Tributes to man who dedicated life to music

Band leader Harry Bentham retires after 77 years

Band leader Harry Bentham retires after 77 years

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A Chorley bandsman who dedicated his life to music has died aged 89.

Harry Bentham, who enjoyed a musical career spanning 77 years, has been described by his family as a ‘true gentleman’.

Born in Coppull in 1922, Mr Bentham came from a talented musical family and his illustrious career began at the age of eight when his father took him to the then Coppull Band.

By 14 he was playing principal cornet and this started a lifetime passion for music which saw him go on to conduct live on national television and across the world on radio.

His son Roy said: “My dad was a really well known figure in the brass band industry. They would give concerts all over the country and as a conductor he travelled all over.

“He was a fantastic guy and a wonderful musician.”

From Coppull Band he progressed to Horwich Old, becoming principal cornet player, and then moved to Leyland Motors Band, then conducted by Harold Moss, again as principal cornet.

He retired as a player and took up the baton with Coppull Band before a successful few years with Haigh Prize Band.

Haigh won their section of the national finals and won the Belle Vue Grand Shield, and were invited to compete in the British Open at the King’s Hall.

This was the start of a successful career in conducting which reached well into the 1980s.

Mr Bentham led numerous bands, including Leyland Motors Band - where he worked for 24 years as a gear cutter - before working as a music tutor at local colleges and high schools.

Bands he led included Crooke Miners Welfare, Wigan Boys Band, Hesketh Bank and Eccleston, who clinched coveted prizes and performed at prestigious events across the country.

His greatest achievement came when he conducted live on the hit BBC television show Champion Bass in 1977.

Mr Bentham announced his retirement in 2007 but continued to teach players locally until early this year.

He died suddenly at his home in Eccleston on Easter Sunday of heart failure, leaving two children, three grand children and three great-grand children.

His funeral will take place at St Michael and All Angels Church in Croston on Friday at 12.30pm.