Stotfold stalwart, 72, retires after 43 years at the helm of Salvation Army band

John Street doing his thing in Biggleswade.

John Street doing his thing in Biggleswade. - Credit: Archant

A Stotfold man who has racked up 43 years as the town’s Salvation Army bandmaster has bowed out in style.

John Street in 1981.

John Street in 1981. - Credit: Archant

John Street’s last session at the helm did not go quietly in the Church Road hall last week, with a special service that ended with the 72-year-old receiving a montage certificate of his greatest hits.

The Sunday retirement ceremony saw several messages of appreciation from friends in the brass band world, including professor Nicholas Childs, conductor of the Black Dyke Band, and bandmaster Stephen Cobb of the International Staff Band of The Salvation Army.

According to John, who will still be playing the cornet in the band: “They don’t come much better than that.”

He said: “I knew there would be a presentation, but I didn’t quite realise the extent of it.

John Street.

John Street. - Credit: Archant

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“Being bandmaster has allowed me to travel to all sorts of places and perform to lots of people.

“We even went on a nine-day tour to Norway in 1984. We performed every day and the experience really knocked us out.

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“Travelling around the snow-covered mountains to entertain people was fantastic.

“Brass bands are not quite as popular as they were 40 years ago, especially in schools, so I suppose that has been the main change – but we still have a strong membership here.”

John’s commitment to the town is not limited to the musical sphere however, the Stotfold Mill trustee was a district councillor representing the town between 1991 and 2010 and remains a governor at St Mary’s Church of England Academy and Etonbury Academy.

He was also awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship in May by the Rotary Club of Baldock, the highest honour bestowed to Rotary Club members.

But John certainly won’t be resting on his laurels, and plans on enjoying his ‘retirement’ to the full.

He said: “I love painting and I will also be sorting through 400 hours of video that I have taken over the years.”

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