Influenced by his parents, who have both played in various brass bands in the local area, Ben first started to learn the cornet at Skelmersdale Prize Band. After a successful four years of contesting and performing in events in the local area with the band, Ben left the principal cornet seat to play for the acclaimed Blackburn and Darwen Band. Here, he settled on the flugel seat, before moving to Huddersfield to study for his degree in Music. where At University, Ben studied under the legendary cornet player and conductor Dr Phillip McCann. Upon his move to Huddersfield, Ben was invited to join the Hammonds Band (formerly the YBS Band). Here, Ben enjoyed qualifying out of the Grand Shield on two occasions, along with taking part in many competitions including the British Open, the National Finals and Brass in Concert. Ben lives in his hometown of wigan, while teaching music at a secondary school / 6th form in Warrington.
Away from brass bands, Ben still plays cornet, trumpet and piano in various different ensembles. He also conducts many other ensembles including children's choirs.
Since Ben has taken over as Musical Director, the band have had one of their most successful periods. Since Ben started in August 2018, the band have recruited some excellent players, taken part in new events and been promoted to the 3rd section.
In 2020, Ben is looking forward to preparing an exciting concert programme and working hard with the aim of continuing the contesting success.
Upon being appointed as musical director, Ben said “With the Hammonds Band, I have been very fortunate to enjoy years of playing at the best contests in some amazing venues, and also some brilliant concerts around the country. The best part for me though was the amazing team spirit within the band. I think it’s too rare now to find a band where every player has total commitment, whilst also enjoying a great social time as a group of 25 good friends. This attitude is something that I would now like to bring home. I am looking forward to taking Skelmersdale through this next chapter in the band’s amazing history; it’s great to conduct William Rimmer’s former band.” – Ben Coulson 2018
PRINCIPAL CORNET - James Ball - James is a 'local lad' here at Skelmersdale, and grew up playing for the St Helens Youth Brass Band under the direction of Lynda Nicholson. As with many of our other players, as James become too old for youth bands, he joined Skelmersdale. James has won many awards at contests and we're sure that he'll win plenty more. You can enjoy a solo feature from James at most of our concerts.
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 - 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.
SOLO CORNET - VACANCY -
SOLO CORNET - JAMES BEECHAM - James has been an associate of the band since Ben took over as MD. James studied under Phillip McCann at the University of Huddersfield, and was a member of Black Dyke before joining us at Skem, where he has played everything from Soprano cornet to 2nd Baritone. As a fine conductor himself, James often ends a critical ear to help Ben in preparing for major performances.
SOPRANO CORNET - Eddie Hill - Eddie is well known in the banding circle, having played for many fine bands across the North West and Yorkshire. Eddie is a true 'bandsman' and is always amongst the first to be at rehearsals and warmed up. His experience has been a great asset to the cornet section as well as the band a s whole.
REPIANO CORNET - Jenny Littlehales - Jenny has recently returned to her home town of Wigan after studying music at the University of Hull. Having previously been a flugel horn player she has brought a lovely warm tone to the repiano cornet seat.
2nd CORNET - Chris Thorpe - Back int he 80's, Chris had an enjoyable spell as the band's solo horn player. But when he and Wendy had their first child, they decided that banding was too much to fit in to family life, and Chris retired from playing. Now that their son has flown the nest, Chris enjoys playing on the back row.
2nd CORNET - Melissa Taylor -