Wigan musician honoured with special award to mark 70 years of volunteering with band

A talented musician who has been hitting the right notes for 70 years has been honoured for his decades of volunteering.

By Gaynor Clarke
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 12:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 2:57 pm

Derek Green, 82, received the Heart of the Community Award during a ceremony at Wigan Town Hall for his lifetime of dedication to music.

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He started playing tenor horn when he was eight years old and after playing with other groups, he joined Pemberton Old Brass Band in 1954, at the age of 14.

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Friends and family of Derek Green surprised him at Wigan Town Hall as he was presented with the Heart of the Community Award

Around 40 years ago he moved on to play the Bb flat bass tuba, the largest instrument in the band.

He said: “I stated on a tenor horn in 1948. My dad taught me in another band and then I went to Wigan Boys’ Club Band and then Pemberton.

"We got short of bass players and the conductor asked if I fancied playing this instrument and I said I would give it a try. The rest is history, as they say.”

Derek has been involved with the band ever since and despite retiring from playing six years ago, he still has several jobs including looking after the music library for all three bands.

Derek Green with his award and certificate

It has become an integral part of his life and he has made many friends over the years through the band.

He said: “My dad James was in it for over 50 years and it’s a family organisation. There’s a lot of friendship and camaraderie.

"We go on walking days and to competitions. I have been all over the country and abroad playing. I have been to Belgium and Scotland and Torquay.”

Since joining the band 70 years ago, Derek has met his wife and welcomed four daughters, five grandchildren and his first great-grandchild.

Derek Green has been awarded the Heart of the Community Award for years of volunteering with Pemberton Old Brass Band

He spent 10 years working as a fireman on steam engines and 21 years as a forklift driver at Heinz, before retiring when he was 50.

It was Derek’s decades of dedication to the band that led to him receiving the Heart of the Community Award, which was presented by then-Mayor of Wigan Coun Yvonne Klieve.

He was given an award and a certificate signed by Wigan Council leader Coun David Molyneux and councillors Chris Ready, Pat Draper and Mary Callaghan.

Derek, who lives in Pemberton, said: “It came completely out of the blue. Even members of the band were there playing in the town hall and my family was there.

"We had been presented with an ancient and loyal emblem and I thought I was going to show it to the mayor. Little did I know all this had been arranged and all my family and friends were there. It was a complete surprise.

"I was very honoured. It’s nice that so many people wanted to do this.”

The special event at the atrium in the town hall included a performance by the band and a buffet organised by Fur Clemt.

Coun Ready, cabinet member for communities, said: “What a magnificent evening and a worthy award to Derek Green for over 70 years of volunteering.”

Derek’s sister Kathleen Barlow worked with Coun Draper for three years to arrange the award and have it presented to him.

Coun Draper said: “It was an absolute honour and privilege to organise this event and community award to Derek, who has given so much to his community in the past 75 years. It was time for us to honour a true legend and gentleman.”