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Published in Band News on 2015-07-23 by Empty Chairs

More news from Shepway Brass Academy

Less than two years after being founded, a children’s brass band – the Folkestone-based Shepway Brass Academy - has been rocked by its founder and leader standing down.

Christer Aberg and his wife Karin have decided they must leave their home in Hawkinge and return to their native Sweden due to Mrs Aberg’s ill-health - she was unable to attend the band’s farewell concert for her husband in Folkestone on Saturday.

The concert, held at the bandstand on The Leas, was a rip-roaring celebration of some Shepway Brass Academy (SBA) standards such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Bare Necessities, and formed part of a charity event by local schools and youth groups in aid of the Nepal earthquake appeal.

Members of the band had met earlier for their usual Saturday morning rehearsal at Folkestone Academy and took time out, along with parents and friends of SBA, to thank Mr Aberg for his hard work and perseverance in realising a dream to nurture young brass-playing talent within Shepway and the neighbouring Canterbury and Ashford areas.

Members of Mr Aberg’s support team and parents, led by friend Paul Driscoll, vowed that SBA must carry on, having seen many young novices already graduate from beginner status to joining the band’s concert line-up.

Mr Driscoll admitted “We are going to miss you” but added: “As the founder, we would like you to know that you will continue to be part of our band, by becoming our life president.”

At this point, Mr Aberg was presented with a framed declaration of his new office, along with two scenes from Folkestone and two conductor’s batons –for himself and Mrs Aberg, a musician and mentor too to many of the youngest SBA members.

Band members also gave him a signed T-shirt, which he wore with pride over his usual formal black shirt when later directing the band in concert.

Clearly moved, Mr Aberg urged SBA to set-up a Facebook page in addition to its website, so that he could keep up with band news, even from Sweden, and added:

“I wish you all the best; please keep (SBA) going – you need it, you want it, and I look forward to following your future successes.”

Mr Aberg – also standing down as Director of the Snowdown Colliery Welfare Band - is well-known in the brass band community at county, national and international level, and founded SBA in late 2013 with support from a 'band within a band' of experienced musicians and young mentors.

Within a few months, it had played its first public concert. Such early success attracted financial support for Mr Aberg and his team to buy badly needed instruments – larger brass instruments can cost several thousand pounds.

Backing included a £10,000 grant from the MOD’s Community Covenant Fund, which aims to bring together civilian and armed forces communities, and £5,000 from the Shepway District Council Community Chest.

On presenting both cheques last year, the council’s Leader Cllr David Monk said: “Instead of using their thumbs to play on computer games, it is great to see young people using many more fingers and making such fantastic music. This is just the kind of project we are delighted to support.”

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