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About us

We are swcomms Band, a first section band based in Devon in the South West of England led by musical director Chris Spreadbury. 

We hold our rehearsals on Mondays and Thursdays 7.45pm-9.45pm in the band room, which is located not far from the railway station and a stone’s throw from The Swan Inn and The Globe Inn in Lympstone.


Anyone out for a stroll is welcome to drop by to listen. 

If you wish to book us, or for any other enquiries, please use the enquiries link on our homepage.

Paul Luford

Paul is originally from Micklefield in Yorkshire. He joined the Band of HM Royal Marines in 1982, a job he is still doing. Paul is 49 years old and lives in Exmouth with his wife, Claire, daughters Hannah and Beckie and their dog Brodie.

Soprano cornet

Ian Hobbs

Joined the band in 2013 having spent 17 years with LGB Brass and five successful years with Horsham Borough Band. He started playing aged 11 with the Swindon Youth Brass Band, reaching youth finals at the RAH. He is the dairy farm manager at Riverford Organics and likes to spend time with Tala the dog! 

Solo cornet

Megan Newbery

Megan joined the band in 2015, at the age of 11. She started learning the cornet when she was 8 years old, and soon joined the fantastic Lympstone Training Band. She quickly moved up to the principal cornet seat which she currently still holds. Megan was delighted to be invited to join the swcomms Band, and her favourites evenings are of course, Mondays and Thursdays - band nights! Megan also enjoys playing the trumpet in her school jazz band and orchestra, as well as playing netball and spending time with her friends and family.

Principal cornet

Alex Hignett

Alex, originally from Northumberland, has been playing a brass instrument her whole life under the tutelage of her trumpet-playing father. While at Huddersfield University, Alex caught the brass band bug and received tuition from Phillip McCann. While living in Yorkshire, Alex played for the Wakefield Metropolitan Brass Band as well as organising the university brass band when they won the Unibrass competition. Alex moved down to Devon with her boyfriend that she met at university, Matthew, who plays tuba, and was eager to join the swcomms Band. 

Solo cornet

​Helen Brocklebank

My banding career began aged 12 as a tenor horn player in the Fishponds British Legion Band in Bristol. Then at 15, after qualifying in the area's championship section, I then played in the National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall and was found to be the only female to be playing in the contest that day. I was honoured to be a founder member of the Stanshawe/Sun Life band where I played cornet. After my marriage to Colin, a Royal Marines musician, I had a break from banding while our two daughters were young. Then, when living in Scotland, I joined Dunfermline Town Band. On moving to Exmouth, I played in two local wind bands with Colin and our daughter Claire, both clarinet players. Finally, in 1997 I was persuaded by a friend, Charlie Fleming, to join the swcomms Band and I am proud to still be playing in this band. 

2nd cornet

Fran Bard

Fran first started to learn the cornet age six, playing for South Derbyshire Youth Band. At the age of 11, she had taken and passed my grade eight with distinction. I joined Gresley Colliery band and became their principal cornet at the age of 13 and enjoyed much success within the band, both on and off the contest stage! I studied classical music at Birmingham Conservatoire and then went on to do my PGCE, specialising in music at Exeter University. On moving to Devon, I have played with various bands on both cornet and flugel, but am now happy playing bumper up for the swcomms Band. As well as brass bands, I enjoy spending time with my family and attending dog shows.

Flugal horn

Sandie Heyworth

Sandie joined the band in June 2009 from Torbay Brass where she held the solo horn seat. She has played horn for most of her banding career but has also dabbled on cornet, flugel and baritone. She says she always manages to return to horn in the end! Sandie is a NHS Manager at Torbay Hospital and is married to Brent on solo baritone, with whom she has two children.

Solo horn

Annabelle Grose

Annabelle has been playing for 32 years. She started with Lympstone 23 years ago when starting teacher training at Rolle College. After a two-year break, she is enjoying the friendly band while continuing to teach in Devon. 

1st horn

​Carol McEwen

Carol joined the band at the beginning of 2014, five years after her husband Colin joined on euphonium. When he joined, he promised never to go on the committee and only play for a few years before they took up dancing as a hobby. Another ex-Torbay brass player to move over to Lympstone, Carol finally agreed to join after being promised by Colin that he would cook the evening meal before Monday rehearsals. Colin is now chairman, dinner on Mondays only lasted a couple of weeks, and she's still waiting to take up dancing! If you can't beat them, you might as well join them.

1st horn

Jan Wallis

Jan joined Beginner's Band after seeing Brassed Off and meeting friends who had joined the band. I will never be a great player but enjoy playing and participating in communal music-making (but not competing!) I am retired from teaching.

2nd horn

​Colin McEwen

Colin joined the band as principal euphonium at the beginning of 2009 and is married to Carol on second horn. A chartered accountant responsible for the accounting and finance of a hotel group, Colin has suffered greatly over the past few years as a Plymouth Argyll fan, but still believes there are better times ahead. Having declared there was no way he would sit on the band's committee, Colin is now the band' chairman having previously been treasurer.

Solo euphonium ​

Claire Luford

Originally from Leeds, now Exmouth, Claire has played the euphonium since the age of 10 and LOVE band! She is also the band manager/control freak, making sure all runs smoothly. Claire a registered nurse and, having worked in intensive care for many years, now helps keep most of Exmouth healthy in her role as a senior practice nurse. She is also the liaison to the training band. Claire won the 'Bandsperson of the Year' award in the first year of its inception.

2nd euphonium

​Brent Heyworth

Brent joined Lympstone Band in June 2009 from Torbay Brass where he played principal euphonium. He is married to Sandie on solo horn and has two children. Brent is a welder fabricator for a fencing contractor and his interests outside of banding include playing golf, even though he isn’t very good, and reading, especially American history.

Solo baritone

Jane Sword

I started playing baritone in primary school in Scotland and played in various town and youth bands until I left school for university to study medicine. I didn't start playing again until I came to Devon when I got a consultant job in the RDE and settled for long enough in one place. I now live in Lympstone with my family and enjoy playing with the swcomms band as well as taking part in the Lympstone Cub Scout Group, sailing, gardening and other village clubs. 

2nd baritone

​Matthew Hawkins

Matthew first played in the junior band when he was nine. He moved from cornet through several instruments before settling on bass and joining the senior band with his mum Gill. Matthew studied music at Huddersfield university where he was proud to play with Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band for nearly three years competing at the Yorkshire areas, Masters, British Open, Brass in Concert and the Championship National Finals in the Royal Albert Hall. He has since moved back to Devon with his girlfriend Alex, also in the band, and is now a music teacher in Bridgwater.

​Matthew Hawkins - EEb bass

Nigel Strawbridge

Nigel decided to learn the Eb Bass as he didn’t want to get bored waiting for his sons who were also playing in the band! Great idea Nigel, and look at you now! Nigel is a data processing technician and in his spare time enjoys researching his family history.

EEb bass

Alex Thomas

Originally from just outside Tewkesbury, Alex started playing cornet at 10 years old, moving to euphonium at about 15. He stopped playing when he went to university at 19, and didn't play for 10 years. Alex is now a Trading Standards officer covering Devon and Somerset.

BBb bass

Stephen France

Stephen moved to Torbay in 2007 having not played a tuba for about 18 years. He then remembered how to play EEb bass with Torbay Brass for several years before being asked to help swcomms Band on a number of occasions, including his first ever contest win, at Weston. For the last couple of years he has slipped into a more regular role of BBb bass player when family commitments allows him to get away with it! 

Bbb Bass

Gareth Davies

Since the age of four, Gaz has had a love of music. Joining Pillowell Silver Band at this young age he spent his childhood playing a number of brass instruments. As a teen and needing braces, he made the leap to percussion and through his drum tutor, Steve Barnett, Gaz was invited to play for championship band Flowers under the direction of Philip Harper.  


Gaz went on to study music at Dartington College of Arts and during this time took up the baton for The City of Exeter Railway Band.  Heavily influenced by Phil Harpers direction and enthusiasm, Gaz continues to conduct a local concert wind band as well as playing percussion with fellow percussionist Simon Manley and the occasional brass instrument for swcomms.  When he's not playing you'll find Gaz up on the moors climbing up and abseiling down whatever rock he can.

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Andrew Stark
Principal cornet

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