National Association of Brass Band Conductors

BBC News Norfolk

Eastern Daily Press, 31st December 2011

North Norfolk News , Thursday January 5th 2012

Great Yarmouth Mercury, Friday January 6th 2012

British Bandsman, 7th January 2012

Town & Country News, February 2012

New Year Honours List

In the New Year 2012 Honours List, Her Majesty The Queen has appointed Tim Thirst, a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), meaning that Tim has become the second generation of his family to be so honoured. While it may not be unusual for a father and son to both be appointed an MBE, it is very rare for them to be appointed for service to the same brass band and community.  
The appointment has been made for services to the Stalham Brass Band, the brass band movement, youth music and to the community in Stalham, Norfolk. Tim has been with Stalham Brass Band for 50 years as a player and as the current Director of Music. He first started playing with the band at the age of nine although he had already been collecting for them at Christmas for a couple of years.

“One day I thought : ‘I could be a player’ “. So off I went secretly to my dad’s shed where he had various instruments in states of repair. I selected a cornet and started practicing on it unbeknown to him. After a few weeks - when I could at last manage a scale – I proudly went to him with the cornet and played. “What was that like?” I asked him. “Pretty good” he said “but you would have found it much easier if you hadn’t picked a Soprano cornet!”

Tim’s dad Gerald Thirst (pictured below) had also started with the band when aged nine and he remained in the band for more than 75 years for over 50 of which he was Director of Music. In the New Year 2000 Honours List he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), also for services to the Stalham Brass Band, the brass band movement, youth music and the community in Stalham. Gerald was very happy to learn of his appointment, but sadly died a few months later, before his Investiture was due to take place. The family went to Buckingham Palace later that year to collect his MBE from Her Majesty in a private ceremony.

  Gerald Thirst

Tim, as Gerald before him,  is understandably very enthusiastic about young people taking up music in a brass band.


“Starting to play an instrument when you are young, builds up your confidence and concentration.  It can also have a marked effect on raising your education attainment, particularly in maths. It teaches you team work and also enables you to mix with other players of differing ages and backgrounds. Brass banding is a world-wide community. Wherever you travel, if there is a local brass band, you will be welcomed in.” he said.

Tim’s nomination was co-ordinated by John Wellings, and the letters of support for the nomination came not only from those who have been involved in community events but also from children from the area who were taught to play in the band; ex-servicemen grateful for the support Tim and the band have given to the Royal British Legion over the years and from parishioners showing appreciation for help he has given to the churches in the area.
Among the comments received were:

‘His helpful, friendly nature and his vast knowledge of music help him transform ordinary, young musicians into professional players.’


‘He has been an inspiration to the children with his encouragement to pupils at all levels - some of whom have learning disabilities – showing the children that they can all achieve, blossom and contribute to both the school and outside communities.’

(parents comments)

‘Tim’s enthusiasm, assistance and good humour are always appreciated by everyone involved in our fund raising efforts.’
(charity organiser's comments)


‘In time when many youngsters struggle to deal with the pressures of modern life – the work carried out by Tim sets the standard for us all who volunteer our time not only in giving entertainment to many, but pride and a skill to many youngsters.’
(another brass band's comment)

Many players in the band have taken up music in their retirement:

‘We have had the great privilege of being Tim’s students, and through his immense patience and understanding are gaining tremendous enjoyment and purpose.’ they said.

Tim’s wife Tricia, son Robert (13) and daughter Jasmine (5) also play with the band - give the children a few decades and who knows...


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