Harry Mortimer Memorial Trust

The Trust Awards of £500 and a Commemorative Certificate are made each year to outstanding brass musicians to assist their studies and training, as well as furthering their musical careers. The Trustees are David Read MBE, Dr. Robert Childs, James Scott, Keith Hollinshead, Elgar Howarth, Frank Hodges, and Martin Mortimer.

Born in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, Harry Mortimer was the son of the famous band conductor Fred Mortimer. Following relocation to Luton in 1913, Harry became Principal Cornet for the the Luton Red Cross Band and his father Conductor. In 1923 Luton band became the only southern band ever to win the National Championships.

In late 1924 the Mortimers moved to Fodens and, playing under the baton of Fred, and alongside brothers Alex and Rex that Harry as Principal Cornet really flourished. In the decade that followed, Foden's enjoyed magnificent success including seven National wins.

During this period he also played Trumpet with the Halle Orchestra, Liverpool Philharmonic and the BBC Northern Orchestra and through his friendships and contacts among classical musicians he persuaded such conductors as Sir Hamilton Harty, Sir Adrian Boult and Sir Malcolm Sargeant to conduct brass bands.

In 1942 he was appointed Supervisor for Brass and Military band broadcasts at the BBC and further advanced the cause of brass bands, a position he held for 22 years.

He became the professional conductor of the very best of Britain's brass bands including the Fairey Aviation Works Band, Fodens Motor Works, Black Dyke Mills, Munn and Feltons and Morris Motors and was practically unbeatable on the contest stage. The eighteen wins he gained conducting in the British Open and National Championships is a post war record.

In the mid 1950s Harry Mortimer retired from competition conducting and he then concentrated on the brass orchestra he had formed which included Fairey, Fodens and Morris Motors Bands. This combination gave popular concerts to packed audiences throughout the country.

In his later years he took full responsibility for the organising and administration of the British Open Contest in Manchester and with the enormous support of his wife Margaret was able to maintain the high standards of this long established event which this year itself celebrates its 150th birthday.

He was awarded the OBE and later the CBE for his services to the brass band movement. In 1978 a television programme Harry Mortimer's World of Music proved so popular that it had to be repeated within six months. BBC television produced a special programme to celebrate his 80th birthday and EMI issued Man of Brass - a collection of his recordings between 1926 and 1950 also to mark his 80th birthday - such was the esteem in which he was held.

He was particularly proud to be the president of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain and it was fitting that when he died he left a considerable sum of money to be placed in trust (The Harry Mortimer Memorial Trust) to help promote brass band music and in particular young brass players. 

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