Academy, Thurrock Marching Brass Establish New Future

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After a successful 2013 season celebrating TA’s long and inspiring history, guardians past and present of The Academy got together over the summer to discuss the challenges in taking the much treasured organisation forward. The current Chair, Lisa Darton, would soon have to leave her position heading up the organisation as she prepares for exciting new beginnings that would take her far away from the UK. Topped with further unavoidable personal circumstances of some of TA’s key staff members, TA had to force an important set of decisions that would affect the immediate continuance of one of the UK’s most respected names on the Winterguard circuit.

In light of the decisions taking place at TA, TA Directors approached Thurrock Marching Brass Chairman, Paul Morgan and appointed Head of TMB’s Thurrock Academy Colourguards, Ken Mansfield to inform them of their current situation. Because of TA’s continued strong connection to theirroots, both organisations felt that there was a unique and perhaps one time opportunity to reunite all off-shoots of the once famous Thurrock Marching Brass under the same brand name once more. Discussions have been taking place to see how this could be achieved, while protecting the history, and indeed memory of TA specifically.

Let’s explain the history and connections;

Thurrock Marching Brass was founded on 18 October 1973 by David J. E Loader (co-founder of the British Youth Band Association and mastermind behind the largest parade of marching bands ever seen for the Queens Silver Jubilee in 1977, among so many other great achievements) and ceased as a full Marching Band in 1989. The musicians continued to perform in a Jazz Band that called itself “The Jazz on G Orchestra”, and enjoyed many performances until the end of 1992. The band got
together for a memorable re-union competition and spectacular, held at the Royal Albert Hall in 1993, but has laid dormant until it’s re-launch which took place on 18 October 2010. The band has since being going from strength to strength.

Although the band efforts ceased to exist for many years, under the leadership of John Sharman and Ken Mansfield the Colourguard continued to perform under the well-established name of Thurrock Academy, securing a number of British Championships at the highest levels. In 2005, under the new leadership of Lisa Darton, and as the organisation expanded and broadened its location they brought in the new name “The Academy”, and have continued to compete ever since.

Since the return of Thurrock Marching Brass,the organisation provided their members with a winter program, and in 2011 the very first guard under the same original brand name of Thurrock Academy was unveiled. This symbolised the start of a mutual relationship between the two organisations, as The Academy merged their junior membership into TMB’s new winter program, and in addition dedicated staff to teach as well as supply equipment to help this new venture. The Academy’s senior
group continued to compete in Open Class.

The structure and growth of the TMB organisation quickly assisted the development of the winter program, which saw 2 units competing in the 2013 season, with a third now officially planned forthe 2014 season in the Cadets, Junior and A Class divisions of Winterguard United Kingdom (WGUK).

Moving Forward;

It is easy to see how so many people on the winter circuits often confused the two organisations as being one and the same. The truth is that both winter organisations have their roots firmly fixed with Thurrock Marching Brass, but have branched out into their own directions over time.

It is because of this it was strongly felt there was an opportunity to provide a solution to the challenges facing TA as an organisation, and in doing so to look at facilitating a fourth room specifically to cater for the more advanced Open Class under the Thurrock Academy name and within the membership of Thurrock Marching Brass. Essentially, bringing the whole family back together again under one roof. Details of this program will be released separately to this press release.

As such, effective as of the date of this joint release, the TA organisation will cease, and any and all assets will be transferred to Thurrock Marching Brass by mutual agreement of both organisations boards.

It was agreed that in order to preserve some element of the great efforts made over the years, that a formal change of identity to the Thurrock Marching Brass’s winter program would take place. The name “Thurrock Academy” will remain the brand name, however, a new logo for the winter brand will be created and include elements easily recognisable to anyone who has ever been involved in or followed the TA organisation through the years. This will be used for all Thurrock Academy colourguards going forwards.

Thurrock Marching Brass will open up and facilitate for a fourth room (in addition to the existing Cadet, Junior and A Class rooms) and Open Class Program, which it was agreed would not field a competitive open class unit for the 2014 season. Instead a monthly program will be built that would allow anyone wishing to spin at that level to do so, and to develop a full program to compete at open class level for the 2015 season. Should demand for this room be such that a 2014 competitive unit would be viable then the board of Thurrock Marching Brass will consider this in conjunction with the Corps Director and his appointed head of Winter, and further announcements would then follow.

Speaking of the move, The Academy’s Director Lisa Darton comments “I’ve been a part of the TA organisation since joining as a young girl in September 1991. Over the many years of performing, teaching and directing I have seen many changes, but the fundamentals of our family have always remained the same. TA over the years has helped create many wonderful cherished memories, its built lifelong friendships and bonds, its created magical and inspiring performances and its inspired endless young people to become the very best of whom they are and what they do. It’s taught people to treasure the moments that truly last a life time. And for me, I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for my teachers, the friendships and the opportunities that TA has given to me over the years.

But in the circle of life everything is changing, everything is evolving and moving towards something new. And as I head off for new adventures far away, so too TA head towards new and exciting adventures as they reunite with their roots. Whilst the structure of the TA organisation will now cease to exist, the history, the future, the memories and the talents of everyone at TA has been given the chance to continue forward, taking those cherished family values back home with us to Thurrock Marching Brass. For our staff and membership it provides a secure and flourishing home for them to continue to spin, perform, and to teach. And with so many of TMB’s instructors having long and cherished roots at TA, I know this will be a smooth and homely transition for us.

I have been privileged to teach with both TA and with TMB’s Thurrock Academy over recent years, and I know how talented the membership and staff of both organisations are. When you bring all these talents together under one roof, you just know something incredibly special is going to blossom, and that dreams are going to keep coming true! This is why it was absolutely the right time for our two organisations to reunite, and i am so excited for the future of Thurrock Academy. I
encourage everyone to embrace this change with open arms and help this reunited organisation flourish, be that as a performing member, a teacher, a helper or a supporter.

Special thanks should be made to Fay Darton, Lorraine Smith and Darren Darton who were all instrumental in taking this forward with me, in dedicating themselvesto the survival of TA’s history, and the creating of a new future under Thurrock Marching Brass. And finally I am so very proud that TMB will be showing off our history with the new branding for Thurrock Academy’s winter programs.

One Love, One Thurrock Academy”

Adding to this, Thurrock Marching Brass’ Chairman, Paul Morgan says “I would like to praise the way in which our friends, and family members at The Academy have approached and handled this very delicate situation. I genuinely felt for their situation, but after going through all the detail and looking at all the options available do believe that this is a unique and wonderful opportunity for everyone. My long history on a personal level with Thurrock Marching Brass and with Thurrock
Academy has seen small off-shoots of talent that have developed themselves into amazing performers, teachers and leaders. To be able to unite all of those elements again under the single brand of Thurrock Marching Brass is something that everyone involved embraces with wide and open arms. Lisa Darton has also ensured that through the identification of our winter brand that the great history made by The Academy specifically will be remembered going forwards, and I think anyone involved with TA should congratulate her in the way she has managed this situation to a positive conclusion. Structure is important to me, to my Board, and I know also to the Corps Director, Darren Crisp and his appointed head of Winter, Ken Mansfield, and together we will build a winter program that will cater for all levels from Cadet to Open Class, with the hope that in the
future we might expand that still further and see all 5 classes represented at the same time by a Thurrock Academy team. As the band grows also there are so many additional opportunities for the winter performers to excel and enjoy. As members of Thurrock Marching Brass, the entire year is jam packed with great opportunities to create wonderful memories that will last a lifetime and I would of course recommend to anyone who is not currently associated with any band/corps or winter program to come along and see for themselves just what we have to offer as we all March forward and never look back!”

For further information contact info [at] thurrockmarchingbrass [dot] org or visitthe TMB web site at

For and on behalf of The Academy
Lisa Darton, Chair
Fay Darton, Director

For and on behalf of Thurrock Marching Brass
Paul Morgan, Chairman
Darren Crisp, Corps Director
Ken Mansfield, Head of Winter

Posted by on Sunday, September 1st, 2013. Filed under Current News, Drum Corps U.K..