Formed by Frank Every (grandfather of scaba President Norman Every) in 1931, Saint Sebastian Wokingham Band is a friendly second-section band with an active social life.
The Band’s very first meeting was held in the St Sebastian Parish Hall on 28 August 1931 in response to a request for anyone in the local area who was interested in forming a band to attend. During the meeting some instruments that had been purchased from the Chobham Band were allocated to those present and the St Sebastian Parish Band was formed.
The first business meeting of the St Sebastian Parish Band was held in the Parish Hall on 21 September 1932. The Vicar chaired the meeting with 17 members and Frank Every (the first Bandmaster) attending. This set a precedent since the incumbent vicar at St Sebastian’s Church remains the Band President as well. Subscriptions were set at 2d (2 old pence sterling) per week making the annual subscription 8s/8d (8 Shillings and 8 Pence).
On 17 March 1942 the committee put the Band into suspension (because of the war) until conditions had improved (i.e. the end of the war) with the current committee remaining in office. During this period of suspension a small nucleus of members continued playing together until the Band re-formed again in 1945.
The Band achieved 1st place at the Oxford contest in June 1948 and in 1958 the band won 7 awards at contests: 3 Firsts, 2 Seconds, 1 Third and 1 Fourth.
In 1967 the Band was placed 1st at the Reading contest and 2nd in the Area contest at Watford, qualifying for the Finals. There were 25 engagements and the Band converted to Low pitch.
In 1968 the Band was promoted to the 3rd section. There were 33 players on the books and the Band attended 23 engagements.
In 1975 Ian Peake, a promising teenage member of the Trombone section was killed in a motorcycle accident. A soloist contest (sponsored by Ian’s parents) was organised in his memory with the aim of encouraging young players to play in public.
In 1999 the Band qualified to play at the National Finals in Nottingham.
In 2000 the Band qualified to play at the National Finals in The Royal Albert Hall.
In 2003 the Band gained black dress jackets for use at formal concerts and contests. Our maroon jackets are used for marching and outdoor jobs. The last Ian Peake soloist contest was held at St. Sebastian’s School that year.
Founder member and our longest serving Musical Director (26 years), Alan Clacey, passed away in June 2004, aged 88.
In 2005 the Band qualified for the National Finals in Harrogate.
In 2006 the Band celebrated its 75th anniversary with a gala concert, new regalia and a formal association with Wokingham Town Council. The inaugural Mayor’s annual Charity Concert was held at Wokingham Theatre.
In 2007 the Band introduced two new awards: Musician of the year (chosen by the Musical Director) and Bandsman of the year (Band members’ choice).
In 2009 the Band qualified for the National Finals in Harrogate with a 1st place finish at the Regional Heats. The Band was promoted to the Second Section in that same year.
The Band has since qualified for the National Championships in 2016 and 2018.
We remain a contesting band, but we try to limit our contest appearances to 3 per year, primarily the Regional Competition (Area) and contests organised by scaba (Southern Counties Amateur Bands Association). We do additionally try to attend the Whit Walks events in Saddleworth every other year and have achieved some success; most notably achieving 1st placed 4th Section band at the Greenfield contest in 1999, best 3rd section band at the Diggle contest in 2009 and more recently, best 2nd section band at Greenfield in 2011.
In addition to contesting, the Band’s calendar includes several concerts, fetes and parades.