TRIBUTES have been paid to long-standing North Yorkshire band leader Les Maw who has died at the age of 90.
Mr Maw, who led Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band, died peacefully at his home while listening to a record, which was a fitting end to a life filled with music.
He joined the band when he was nine as a cornet player after his father moved to the North East to find work. By the mid-1930s, Mr Maw was a member of the solo cornet team, where he stayed until January 1952, when he was appointed bandmaster.
John Woodward paid tribute to Mr Maw on behalf of Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band, and said "his enthusiasm and appetite for banding never waned", and he still attended band rehearsals in his later years.
Mr Woodward said: "It is hard to put into words just what a hugely influential role Les Maw had within the Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band. Without Les, few feel that this little market town on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors would have the band that it does today, with over 100 active musicians, a senior band that flits between Championship and 1st Section status."
In the early 1950s, the band had only a few members, and Mr Maw built the band up, encouraging young people to pick up instruments and eventually forming a junior band.
Mr Woodward said Mr Maw was "a great inspirational teacher, a competent cornet player, trombonist and percussionist", who took the band to its highest ranking in 1983 in the penultimate round of the National Brass Band Championship, where they narrowly missed out on a trip to the Royal Albert Hall.
Mr Maw retired as bandmaster in 1988 after 36 years, and was awarded the British Empire Medal. The band also created the post of Musical Director specially for Mr Maw on his retirement as bandmaster, which he voluntarily handed over 2005.
Mr Maw continued to give lessons up until the last week of his life, and Mr Woodward said his efforts with the band were recognised at his birthday celebrations last year.
He said: "It was with great warmth and affection that the band joined with his family and friends for Les’ 90th birthday celebrations in October last year. Of course, Les had to conduct the band and we all enjoyed his direction through the hymn tune Bradford, which Les had transcribed for the band many years back."
A funeral service will be held at All Saints Church, Kirkbymoorside, on Saturday at 11am. Donations in lieu of flowers to St Catherine's Hospice and Macmillan Nurses.