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Derek began playing the cornet at the age of 10. He became a member of the school band and subsequently the City of Sheffield Youth Brass Band. Further invitations followed, including the Yorkshire Youth Brass Band and the Sheffield Recreation Band. Derek 'worked' his way through the ranks to become principal cornet of the Sheffield Recreation Band at the age of 16 - however the name had now been changed to the City of Sheffield Band. It was during this time that Derek accepted an invitation to join the Grimethorpe Colliery Band. However, after a short spell Derek returned to the 'end chair' back at Sheffield, a position he held for 11 years. In 1983 however, Derek accepted a call from Rockingham Colliery Band to fill the vacant principal chair. During the next twelve months, the band enjoyed four contest wins and Derek was twice awarded 'Best Instrumentalist' along with a most successful tour in Germany.
1984 was to be a major step in Dereks 'banding career' when he made the move to the Yorkshire Imperial Metals Band. Working under the direction of such musicians as Ray Farr, Major Peter Parkes, Geoffrey Brand and James Scott had an enormous influence on Dereks musical career and it was around this time that he seriously moved into conducting - whilst still playing with the band! During his five years with the band, he enjoyed success on Cornet, Flugel Horn and finally Solo Horn and had travelled extensively around Europe appearing on Radio, TV and numerous recordings. Dereks conducting career had already taken off, having directed the Oughtibridge Band, Holme Silver Band, Dodworth Colliery Band and Stannington Band when in 1998 he accepted the position of Musical Director to the Stocksbridge Band.