About AYB

Astley Youth Band is an independent, self funded, community based musical organisation with the following ensembles: Astley Youth Training Band, Astley Youth Band, Astley Unlimited Training Band, Astley Unlimited Band and Astley Unlimited Choir. It is a registered charity (1144563) in England and Wales.

Astley Youth Band was formed in January 1994. The aims of the band are: -
To promote brass music for young people in the area.
To supplement their music lessons at school.
To provide a worthwhile recreational activity in an area where these are very limited.
To give assistance to local schools, churches and organisations and fund raising events.
To enter competitions, giving the band members goals to strive for both in playing and working as a team.
To be a social gathering that the children enjoy attending, enabling them to meet new friends outside their home and school environment.

There were just eight players who attended the first rehearsal for the band. Since then the band has grown dramatically. The organisation caters for all.

Members of Astley Youth Band have appeared with prestigious national youth music groups including the Hallé Youth Orchestra, the National Children's Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra and the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain.

Members have progressed and gone on to study at prestigious music colleges including the Royal College of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music. As well these members and others have performed with some of the outstanding senior brass bands in the country including Fodens and Black Dyke.
The Rotary Club of Astley have given support as well as Leigh Lions Club, Blackmoor Youth club and local companies who have been equally generous with their aid. Astley Youth Band has also held several fund raising events to buy music and instruments. In March 1996 the band was awarded a grant of £27,500 from the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England for the purchase of new instruments.

The band has also received generous support from the Community Foundation for Greater Manchester, Wigan Council for Voluntary Youth Services Fund, Wigan Community Chest,
Wigan Local Network Fund and the Wigan Council Youth Opportunity Fund.

The band has been on a number of tours to places such as France, Luxembourg, Germany & Holland, Ireland (2008), Ayr in Scotland (2009), Northern Ireland (2010), Annan in Scotland (2011),
Gosforth in Cumbria (2012) to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the Isle of Man (2013), the Isle of Arran (2015) and in 2017 to Ayr in Scotland. The band will be touring to Jersey in 2019.

The band perform throughout the year, and are noted for the diversity of their engagements which include Concerts, Garden Fetes, Local Processions, Church Functions, Birthday Parties and Garden Parties.

Astley Youth Band has successfully competed in the Youth Section of the North West Counties Brass Band Association Championships coming 1st three times in 2005, 2007 and 2008.

Astley Youth Band were the National Champions in the Junior Section of the National Youth Brass Band Championships in 2010. In 2011 & 2012 the band have competed in the Intermediate Section of the National Youth Brass Band Championships, in 2011 the band were announced as 'The Band With The Most Potential'.

Astley Youth Training Band entered the 2011, 2012 & 2016 National Youth Brass Band Championships in the Training Band Section and in 2011 were awarded the 'Band Of The Day' prize.

Astley Unlimited Band were formed in 2015 and is aimed at connecting up with adults with a love of brass banding who have time to spare in the day to enjoy playing music, it now attracts over 30 players for its weekly rehearsal at St Stephen's Church in Astley. The band play at a number of joint concerts with the organisation and also take on their own concerts throughout the year.

Astley Unlimited Choir were formed in 2017 and has been growing from strength to strength with regular Monday morning rehearsals and performing at a number of concerts throughout the year.

Each year the band hosts a prizegiving ceremony, attended by local dignitaries, celebrating the ongoing success of the band where the opportunity is taken to reward band members for their attendance, dedication and hard work and to thank all those who make the band possible.


Astley Youth Training Band and Astley Youth Band rehearse every Thursday night in the Upper School building at Bedford High School in Leigh, see the Contact Us page for a map.

Players of any standard, whether on brass or percussion, are more than welcome. The band has a number of instruments available to loan.

Rehearsals start at 6.30pm for both Astley Youth Training and Senior Band.
  1. Training Band rehearse from 6:30-7:30pm.
  2. Senior Band rehearse from 6:30-8:45pm.
Training Band members are given extra coaching by highly qualified graduates of the Royal Northern College of Music.

If you'd like to join in or help this great organisation, please do come along; the band would be delighted to see you.

Astley Unlimited Choir and Astley Unlimited Band rehearse at St Stephen's Church, Manchester Road, Astley every Monday morning. ALL are welcome from complete beginners to those players who may have a dusty instrument in their loft.

Astley Unlimited Choir rehearse between 10am and 11am.

Astley Unlimited Band rehearse from 11:30am to 1pm, a beginner band rehearse from 11:30am to 12 noon.

Musical Directors

The Senior Band's Musical Director is Toby Hobson PPRNCM.

Toby Hobson, a very experienced brass teacher, player and conductor was the principal BBb Tuba from Foden's Band.

The Training Band's Musical Director is Helen Minshall LTCL G.Mus PGCE.

Helen, who with her husband Steve formed the band in 1994, has been involved in the brass band movement for many years as both player and conductor.

The Training Band's Assistant Musical Director is Sue Stirzaker B.Ed (Hons) who also leads Astley Unlimited Choir, a very experienced brass teacher, player and conductor.

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