Sarah takes over the baton in Heathfield

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A woman who was taken to one of Heathfield Silver Band’s rehearsals at the age of ten has just been appointed its new conductor.

The Band is delighted to announce that Sarah Leeves, 33 has just taken over the baton from Richard Sherlock who is leaving to progress his musical career after six years with Heathfield.

Sarah’s love for the distinctive sound of a silver band was sparked when a family friend took her to a rehearsal.

Her interest blossomed and while studying at Heathfield Community College she played in the National Youth Wind Orchestra, going on to study euphonium at the Royal Northern College of Music.

Since then she has been a full-time brass instrument teacher in Brighton and Hove and also conducts and plays trombone and euphonium in and around Sussex.

She’s the daughter of local farmer and band chairman Richard Leeves. Secretary Mallory Hansford says she will now be bringing her special magic to Heathfield Silver Band which began its busy marching season at the Uckfield Carnival last month.

The Heathfield Band goes back to 1888 when Heathfield National School housed rehearsals of the town’s Fife and Drum band by the light of oil lamps.

It was founded by Edward Bean supported by Fred Adams. The pair got the band off the ground using subscriptions and donations from Leadenhall Market poultry dealers which had dealings with the Beans through the poultry business. For a while it was dubbed The Chicken Fatters Band.

Fred Adams was the first bandmaster and Stephen Saunders from Little London, their tutor. Gradually brass instruments were added and by the end of the century the band was attached to the local Second Sussex Volunteers who used a room at the Cade Street pub.

As a volunteer band Heathfield was expected to go to the military camp at Lydd where they entertained troops, played reveille and for parades. It became a civilian band a few years into the present century and ocntinued playing regularly up to World War I.

From 1930 the band rented its practice room in Alexandra Road but they bought it in 1955 for £225 (with £100 donated by supporters) and still practices there.