In Jim's own words:

I started at Besses in the Boys Band in 1947 at the age of six. In those days there was only one organisation and the Boys Band was established in 1943 to feed the Senior band with players.  If you were in the Boys Band and went on to play in the Senior Band then you were regarded as joining  Besses from the start                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

My first contest on 2nd cornet was the Daily Herald in 1949 when the Boys Band won First Prize. The same year I entered the annual Slow Melody Competition run by the Band and won First Prize in the Learners Section age eight.    In 1954 the Band entered me for an audition at the BBC on Deansgate in Manchester  and I was awarded a Scholarship to study Trumpet at the Royal Manchester College of Music under Professor Cecil Kidd.   1955 was the year of my first British Open with the Senior band. I was the youngest player in the Senior band and in the Contest that day age 14 years and had been playing with both bands for around two years. This was an amazing experience for me as at the time Besses was regarded as being one of the top ten bands in the World with some of the finest players  of the day with many going on to play professionally .Over the years I have been forced to leave the Band either because of studies or work   (not including the  one mentioned above)  on three occasions 1956 to 1961,  1970 to 1992 and 1997 to 2000 but have never left to join another band and have always been invited back. However due to being absent I have not been in the winning band on the two occasions that Besses have won the British Open

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