In 1975, local brass teachers found there wasn't enough children or instruments at any one school to form a brass band, however this could be achieved by bringing together children from different schools. To meet this demand, Irvine Youth Band was formed with the co-operation of the education department. The band had no funds, but with the support of parents, it was able to play a small part in the community. Gradually through undertaking to play at various functions, support for Irvine Youth Band started to grow.
Irvine Youth Band had achieved it’s initial purpose of creating an environment where individual students learning to play brass instruments could come together and play as a band. All of the instruments used by the band belonged to the education department and children leaving school had to hand back their instruments and relinquish their positions in the band.
In 1982, Chic Keenan took over as musical director of the band and membership began to increase as did the committee. Also at this time, Archie Rowan had left the Dreghorn Youth Band, and it was agreed by the parent’s committee’s that the two youth bands would rehearse together creating a huge band of around 45 members.
Only a year later the band started to compete in Scottish competitions and by the end of that year had taken 1st place in the 4th Section at the Whitburn Invitational Contest. Here are some of the early performances from that contest in 1984. The average age of the competing band on stage that day was only 17! Today, the band still have players who competed in that very contest!
Irvine & Dreghorn Youth Band
Whitburn 1984 - Part 1
Irvine & Dreghorn Youth Band
Whitburn 1984 - Part 2
Irvine and Dreghorn Competing Band are currently competing in the 2nd Section of the Scottish Brass Band Association. We practice on Sundays and Tuesdays.
We will move to the 1st Section in January 2024 following a 1st place finish at the Scottish Championships in March 2023.
View our competing results at: Irvine and Dreghorn Band - Band - Brass Band Results.
Our current MD is John Boax.
Irvine Youth Band was formed in the 70's, later combining with Dreghorn Youth Band to form Irvine and Dreghorn Brass Band. The band celebrated it's 40th Anniversary in 2016 and are looking forward to the next 40 years. The band take part in many events throughout the year from contests and concerts to summer fayres, gala days, charity concerts, parades and carolling.
1984 was a very busy year for the band, they had continued competition success, winning their sections in 4 different contests and also took part in 40 engagements, one of which was a concert to a full house in the Magnum Theatre.The band also travelled overseas for the first time to Dublin and the people of Donaghmede enjoyed having the band there to perform.
1985 saw the band continue their winning streak, taking the 4th Section titles in Motherwell, Aberdeen and Paisley. The band became 4th Section Scottish Champions and went on to represent Scotland at the National Championships. This saw promotion to the 3rd Section and in 1987 the band was placed 2nd at the Scottish Championships, ensuring another trip to London to compete in the National Finals.
As of the 1st of January 1988, the two youth band’s formally merged – and were now known as Irvine and Dreghorn Brass Band. The newly named band went on to win five awards at the Aberdeen Open Contest, including Best Band, Best Entertainment and Best Section Two Band.
In the early 90’s Chic Keenan left the band and John Smilie, another local brass teacher took over the role of Musical Director. This period of change saw many band members leave to go to University, start new jobs and others get married and start families. In March 1996, Robin Thompson took over the conductor’s role and the band began to gain confidence again and rebuild winning the 3rd section prize at the Forth Valley Contest and coming 2nd in the area championships.
In 1997 the band were successfully awarded a Lottery Grant which saw the purchase of 25 much needed new instruments, this was made possible by the hard work of the band and supporters. The next year the band gained promotion to the second section and finished 3rd at the Nationals Finals with Raymond Tennant. Clearly those new instrument did the trick!
1999 saw Robin Thompson relinquish his position as Musical Director but he continued be involved with the band playing cornet. John Boax took up the role of conductor and saw the band to continued success winning the best 2nd Section Prize at the Land O’ Burns Contest and 4th Place in the Scottish Championships. At this time the ‘B’ Band and Junior band were reformed.
From 2005 to 2009 David McKellar took up the baton, bringing many years of top level experience to the band. Subsequently, the band gained 2nd place in the 4th Section area contest and took another trip down to the National Finals. As well as competing every year at the Scottish Championships, the band also takes part in local annual entertainment contests including the Land O’Burns and Borders Competitions.
In 2010, John Boax returned the position of Musical Director and band placed 2nd in that year’s 3rd section Scottish Championships.
2012 saw the exciting development of a third-tier to the organisation, we always had a small youth band which sat side by side to our Senior Band, but the funding saw the formation of the ‘Brasslets’. This youth group comprises of learners and complete beginners. They have since competed at the Scottish Youth Brass Band Championships and continue to go from strength to strength.
In July 2014 the band performed in two prestigious gigs. Firstly, to royalty at the opening of the walled garden at Dumfries House where the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Camilla were all in attendance. Next, the band entertained the world’s top sportsmen and women, marching and performing at the Athlete’s Village as part of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Later that year the band gained its most successful result at the Border’s contest, coming 3rd with conductor Scott Kerr.
In 2015, the band saw change again with the arrival of a new Musical Director - Helen Douthwaite-Teasdale. The band came 2nd at the Scottish Championships (3rd section) and went on to compete at Cheltenham in the September 2015.
In 2017, the band came 1st at the Scottish Championships (3rd Section) again under the Baton of Helen Douthwaite-Teasdale and went on to compete at Cheltenham in the September 2017.
Following our Cheltenham visit, we bid a sad farewell to Helen as she made the move back to England to live. Scott Kerr joined us as resident conductor for a year, until late 2018.
Lewis Bettles then joined as our new MD, and in 2019, the band came 1st at the Scottish Championships (3rd Section) under his baton and we again went on to compete at Cheltenham in the September 2019.
In 2020, just before lockdown we re-joined the 2nd section and got an impressive 4th place position. But it was only 2 weeks later that the UK went into lockdown, and while we did our best to continue in the virtual world - even competing in virtual competitions and continuing with virtual youth lessons, we didn't meet together in person to play together until June 2021.. where we took advantage of the Scottish Summer and practiced outside!
During that downtime, we made best use of our time though. Taking on our new home in Autumn 2020. A community asset transfer from North Ayrshire Council of the Dunlop Hall in Dreghorn. We were able to make the place band ready even though we couldn't play together as a large group.
In the end, Covid saw us not return to performing at the Scottish Championships until March 2022 where we again placed 4th with Lewis.
In 2022, we added yet another tier to our band family. A community band! This saw us welcome back players from yesteryears. Some had continued playing socially, others picked up an instrument for the first time in many years.
In 2023, the competing band came 1st at the Scottish Championships (3rd Section) with Lewis as our MD and went on to compete at Cheltenham in the September 2023 under the baton of Stephanie Kennedy after Lewis returned back home to live down south.
The band continue to play at a variety of local events, contests and concerts and hope to see more success in 2024 as we join the 1st section.
Our Monday night Community Band has only being going since mid 2022, but is proving really popular. A relaxed, social band that is open to all whatever their standard of playing or age. Currently there are around 25 players that come together to have some good fun and play some great music. Playing a variety of music styles including light classical, jazz standards, pop and brass band favourites; the community band perform in several concerts and community events throughout the year. If you are a returning player that hasn't played for a while, or a player that has limited time to commit, or simply just want a fun and easy going band the community band would love to hear from you.
Youth Development: Youth Band & Brasslets
Thanks to generous grant funding, the band were able to start a learners programme for kids from as young as 6 in 2012. This sits alongside our youth band. The Brasslets programme was established for children starting out on a brass instrument, you don't need your own instrument - you just need to bring yourself!
As our Brasslets develop their skills, they then can progress into the Youth Band. Both the Youth Band and Brasslets meet on Wednesday evenings and our youth conductor is John Boax.
WATCH THIS SPACE: Percussion Academy coming soon....
We love to see new faces and all players are welcome! If you are interested in joining the competing band, community band, youth band or brasslets, please contact us for more information, either using the contact us link or by sending a message to Derek Leitch on 07855 062478. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram and X.
Where we are
We are based in the Dunlop Memorial Hall, Dreghorn.
We are perfectly positioned in the heart of the village - on the main street, right next to the public library. A busy bus route passes right by our door, and there is also a small car park. There is another public car park across the road.
Our hall is spacious and perfectly equipped for our youth development programme, community band and competing band rehearsals.
Our competing band meet on Sundays (7pm - 9:00pm) & Tuesdays (7:30pm - 9:30pm.) Our community band meets from 7:30pm - 9:00pm on Mondays. And our Brasslets group and Youth Band meet on Wednesday evenings from 5.30pm and 6:15pm respectively.
Our committee meets regularly throughout the year, and is currently made up of representatives from across all parts of our brass band family.
We hold our AGM in March every year. We welcome new members from across the community - you do not need to be a player or player representative to get involved!
We are a registered Scottish Charity (see OSCR | Charity Details) and you can view our constitution in the members resources section.
Previous Committee Meeting Minutes are available on request.
Irvine & Dreghorn Brass Band
Dunlop Memorial Hall
Main St. Dreghorn