Skelmersdale Prize Band

Registered charity number 508535


James Hall

In January 2017, the band were pleased to welcome James Hall as their new Musical Director. James grew up in Lancashire, just a stone’s throw away from our band room, and at the age of 13 made the decision to learn the trombone – a decision that, unbeknown to him, would shape his future. On the back of this, he joined St Helens Youth Brass Band and the Lancashire Youth Symphony Orchestra, where he gained lots of valuable experience of playing as a part of a group.

James chose to continue his musical studies at the Birmingham Conservatoire, before returning to the Northwest to complete a Master’s degree at the Royal Northern College of Music.

Throughout his musical journey so far, James has had the chance to play in some stunning venues – including the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester and Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. While studying for his degree, James was featured as a soloist in the Birmingham Conservatoire Brass Band in a concerto programme that was written for him by Clara Catt. He was also a recipient of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble prize in 2015 as part of the quintet Lowry Brass, who have been featured on BBC Radio 4.

James is also the Musical Director of St Helens Youth Brass Band, where he played whilst learning, and works for Lancashire and St Helens Music Services as a part of their peripatetic and workshop team. He is looking forward to leading Skelmersdale and will enjoy being a part of our banding family in the future.



ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL - Sara Miller Sara learned to play cornet in 2002 at Up Holland High School Band. She joined Skem in 2010 from St. Helen's Youth Brass Band.  The highlight of her banding life so far has been playing in Italy with SHYBB.  Sara graduated from Liverpool John Moores University achieving a degree in Biomedical Science.  Sara also enjoys running, swimming and rock climbing.

SOLO CORNET - Mark Atwood - 

SOLO CORNET - Andy Watkinson - Andy started playing trumpet at high school in 1990. Since then he has played jazz with the Sefton Youth Jazz Orchestra whilst at college in Southport and big band music with the Lancaster University Big Band during his time away at University. After University, Andy joined Marshside Brass Band where he learned the ropes of brass banding. In 2007 he joined Skelmersdale Prize Band after hearing the band play and being impressed with the standard of playing and the range of music. Andy played in his first brass band contest in March 2008 at the North West Regionals and thoroughly enjoyed the experience and is now looking forward to improving his brass band playing with the Skelmersdale Prize Band.


SOPRANO CORNET - Helen Melling - Helen learned to play cornet at St. Helen's Youth Brass Band and quickly moved to sop.  Helen has also played in a jazz band and Jubili Orchestral Youth where she held the position of principal trumpet.  Helen's banding highlights have included touring Italy, Ohio, London, Scotland and Malta with various bands

REPIANO CORNET -   Becky Marsh

2nd CORNET - Bradley Wilson

2nd CORNET - Vacancy

3rd CORNET -   Linda Mawdsley - Linda played with Parr Public Prize Band from 1965 where she met and married Evan Mawdsley (our bass trombone player.)  In 1978 she played with Rainford Silver Band for quite a few years.  Linda eventually returned to Parr Band for a short time, until she was approached by Skemersdale Prize Band to help out at the National Finals (year 2000) at the Royal Albert Hall, London.  Her favourite hymn tune is Diadem by James Ellor.   

3rd CORNET - Colin Knowles - Colin started playing at the age of nine with the Church Army Band in St. Helens.  He first joined Skelmersdale Prize Band in 1985 where he met his wife Linda and the band played at their wedding.  Colin has also been a member of Rainford, Lancashire Constabulary and Pemberton senior and 'B' bands.  Colin gained a BA(hons) degree in Brass Band Studies from Sheffield University in 2006.




SOLO HORN -  Gemma Rowlands - Gemma started playing the cornet back in 2002, after being inspired at one of Rainford Band’s annual ‘Summer Pops’ concerts. Under the tuition of Lynda Nicholson, she enjoyed learning how to play, and joined the St Helens Youth Brass Band in 2004, where she played for 6 years. Her favourite times in banding have included tours to New York and Italy, as well as many concerts both locally and further afield. She took a break from banding whilst studying for a BSc (Hons) degree in Psychology at Liverpool Hope University. Gemma now works as a writer and book editor. After trying out several instruments across the band – most notably including flugelhorn and tuba – after a brief spell on cornet she has now settled back home on horn, where she looks forward to the fun and challenges that band will bring.

1ST HORN - Paul Pilkington -  Paul started to play tenor horn aged 7 at Marshside Brass Band and also played with the successful Stanley High School Band playing for the Queen at her Silver Jubilee in Liverpool. Following many years playing Solo horn with Marshside, Paul moved to Banks Band where highlights were two tours to Belgium in 2012 and 2014, playing at the Menin gate ceremony. Paul joined Skelmersdale in 2014 and has enjoyed helping the band gain promotion in 2015 also playing in the 4th section National Finals. Outside band Paul enjoys all things railway and his two Labradors.

2ND HORN - Chris Thorpe - 

FLUGEL HORN - Ellen Galbraith - Ellen is a not-so-old friend of the band who originally joined in 2005 when she moved to Edge Hill University from her hometown of Buxton.  Ellen  moved back to the area and following her performance at the National Finals with her previous band (Fairfield (Buxton) Band) she joined us permanently in 2008. Ellen is a busy science teacher and has lots of hobbies including roller skating, DIY and gardening, sewing and walking. Ellen enjoys helping the youth band and tutoring beginner players and is the Child Welfare Officer.


SOLO EUPHONIUM - Ste Gordon - 

2ND EUPHONIUM - Laura Crosland

SOLO BARITONE - Gordon Hatton - Gordon started playing when he was 9 years old.  He was given his great-grandfathers cornet as a birthday present!  As a youngster he played with the Lancashire Youth Brass Band and the North West Brass Band Association Youth Band.  He has played with Stretford Borough, Sale Concert, St Johns Ambulance and Skelmersdale Prize Band.  His banding highlights are a trip to Malta, the Royal Tournament and appearing in the finals at the Royal Albert Hall.

2ND BARITONE -  Mark Watkinson -


SOLO TROMBONE - Anthony Bearon

2ND TROMBONE - Dominic Francis - Dominic started playing the piano in 2006 and is currently learning pieces for his grade 8 exam. In 2015 he picked up the trombone after seeing a friend playing the euphonium with Valley Brass Band. He currently plays for St Helens Youth Brass Band.

BASS TROMBONE - Evan Mawdsley - Evan began playing with Parr Public Prize band in 1958, making this his 54th year in brass banding. He and his wife Linda (our 2nd cornet player) joined Rainford Silver Band in 1978. Evan was approached by, and joined Pemberton Old Band in 1997. Evan was later to join Skelmersdale Prize Band in 1999. One of his favourite pieces of music is Bohemian Rhapsody.




EEb BASS - Beth Woodcock - 

EEb BASS - Dave LyonDave is the OAP of Skelmersdale Prize Band! Dave has a long and illustrious career with the band, it has been in his family for generations. The Lyons were the founding members of Skelmersdale Temperence Band, and Dave has been a part of the band all his life. Dave's dedication and loyalty to Skelmersdale Band is greatly admired.

EEb BASS - Andrew Maguire - It was great to see Andy back with us in 2011 after a short break.

BBb BASS - Jon-Paul Coulson - J-P started playing at the tender age of 13 on tenor horn at Skelmersdale Prize Band Youth Band. From there he moved to Orrell B band on euphonium, and he held the solo euphonium seat for ten years. J-P left Orrell as he had the chance to play for the City of Stoke Band on EEb Bass. From there J-P moved back to SPB, remaining on EEb Bass. The bigger J-P's waist line has got, the bigger his instrument has also got, hence him now playing BBb Bass, now his hair is the only thin thing about him. J-P's favourite piece is Elsa's procession to the cathedral. His high point in his banding career was playing at the Royal Albert Hall; his low point, seeing a great band destroyed by an egotistical conductor! In his spare time J-P enjoys 'tinkering' with his classic green mini, more affectionately known as 'Kermit'. He also enjoys walking and completes the grueling 40 mile annual Keswick to Barrow walk for charity. J-P works hard to support both SPB and WLYBB. J-P gives time to tutor beginner players and to conduct the youth band.

BBb BASS - Patrick Kavanah


Alan Penk - Penky has played at Skelmersdale Prize Band for many years.  After a 10 year break from banding Alan joined Skem Band two weeks before a contest (just to help out)....he's been with the band ever since! Alan is kept busy by his 2 sons, daughter and 7 grandchildren and is often called on to help with DIY and gardening. He also enjoys watching most sports. Alan is experienced in all percussion sections and he spends a lot of time helping the younger percussionists coming through the ranks.

Phil Staples -Phil started playing in 2001 with St. Helen's Youth Brass Band. The highlights of his banding life so far have been travelling to America, London and Glasgow and playing at Birmingham Symphony Hall with SHYBB. Phil graduated with a degree in Computing at Edge Hill University. Phil enjoys playing tuned percussion and it's great to have some noise behind the band!

Chris Krelle - 

Sarah Ellen Lofthouse - 


President - Arthur Gore

Vice President - Gordon Hatton

Chairman - Colin Knowles

Vice Chairman - Linda Mawdsley

Secretary - Andrew Maguire

Assistant Secretary - Gemma Rowlands

Treasurer - Paul Pilkington

Librarians - Phil Staples & Danny Kiggins

Committee - Sara Miller, Alan Penk,