Skelmersdale Prize Band

Registered charity number 508535


Ben Coulson

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 after his A Levels to study for his degree in Music, where he studied under the expert tutorship of Phillip McCann. Upon his move to Huddersfield, Ben was invited to join the Hammonds 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 has recently qualified as a music teacher and is returning to his hometown of Wigan after successfully securing a job in Warrington. With this brings the opportunity for Ben to look to the future and begin his conducting career at home with Skelmersdale Prize Band – the band who helped him take his first tentative steps into brass musicianship.Through the years, Ben has been a regular visitor and friend to the band, so all members are happy to welcome him back. As a band, we look forward to the exciting changes and challenges that a new MD brings, and we are confident that there is much success on the horizon with Ben at the helm. 

“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



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.

SOLO CORNET - Paul Johnson - 


SOPRANO CORNET - James Beecham - 

REPIANO 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. 

2nd CORNET - Chris Thorpe -

2nd CORNET - Steven Gee -

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 - Matthew Elliott  - 




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 - Wendy 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 - Darren Fawcett

2ND EUPHONIUM - Rob Hayman - 

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 - Anthony started learning trombone with Ormskirk Town Band in 1984, and played in the Lancashire Students Concert Band from 1988-1994. At university, Anthony played with various groups and orchestras, most notably Sforzando Brass, a newly formed 10-piece brass ensemble. Over the next few years, Anthony's musical focus was playing piano, trombone and melodeon for folk dancing and, as the family grew, this migrated to playing piano and organ for church services. Anthony join Skelmersdale Prize Band in 2017, and has become involved with St. Helen's Youth Brass Band where three of his children are starting out in the brass banding world.


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 - Dave Lyon - Dave 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. 

BBb BASS - Keith Sharples


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 - 


Chris Hibberd
Adam Dutch
Helen Melling
Paul Pilkington
Patrick Kavanagh
Sarah Lofthouse
Emma Taylor


President - Arthur Gore

Vice President - Gordon Hatton

Chairman - J-P Coulson

Vice Chairman - Chris Krelle

Secretary - David Coulson

Assistant Secretary - J-P Coulson

Treasurer - Chris Thorpe

Librarians - Stevie Gee & Danny Kiggins

Safeguarding Officer - Ellen Galbraith

Committee - Sara Miller, Alan Penk, Phil