Our Trustees

Who we are

The UniBrass Foundation is led by a board of trustees, all of whom are passionate about promoting brass bands within universities. They are collectively responsible for running the charity and helping it meet its charitable objectives. Some of the trustees are previous members of the organising committee, whilst others have come from a diverse range of backgrounds and help promote the work of the charity.

 Trustees are elected at the Foundation’s AGM to serve for a term of 3 years, according to the UniBrass Foundation’s constitution. In addition, there are two ex-officio trustee positions which are reserved for the Chair and the Treasurer of the current organising committee, and a position for a nominated trustee, who is appointed by Brass Bands England.

If you are interested in becoming a trustee have a look at our become a trustee page

Andy Straiton


Originally from Leeds, Andy is studying for a PhD in inorganic chemistry at the University of Bath. He is a trombone player, who has played in brass bands since the age of ten.  Having started banding under his teacher Gordon Eddison at Leeds Schools Brass Band, he progressed to play for his local band, the Otley Brass Band, as well as Elland Silver Youth Band. Whilst an undergraduate at the University of York he played for the University of York Brass Band, York Railway Institute Band and Chiltern Hills Brass (whilst on placement in Oxford). He now plays for the Bath Spa Band.

He became involved in UniBrass whilst at York, being chair for the 2017 contest hosted in Harrogate, and subsequently joined the Foundation as a trustee.

Thomas Hicken

Vice Chair

Thomas is physics PhD student at the University of Durham, having completed his undergraduate degree at Warwick whilst the competition was there. He was on the UniBrass Contest Organising Committee for all three years at Warwick and now is a trustee for the UniBrass Foundation. Outside of UniBrass Thomas plays cornet and conducts the university brass band and trumpet/conducts in the concert band.

Andy Baldacchino


Andy graduated from Durham University in July 2019 with a masters degree in Physics and Astronomy. He began playing cornet aged 9 and later joined his school concert band and community concert band. He is relatively new to the world of brass banding, having joined his first brass band in 2017 and attended his first UniBrass event at York in the following year. At university Andy was involved in several music societies, gaining experience of treasuring. He now works as a software engineer and enjoys playing in his local brass band.

Sam Hartharn-Evans


Sam is a studying for a PhD in applied maths at Newcastle University. He has played brass instruments since year 4 and moved to the dark side of the trombone a couple of years later. He has played with his local brass band, Port Sunlight Lyceum Brass Band for a number of years, and whilst at university was a member of the university’s Concert Band, symphony orchestra, and brass band, for which he has been the treasurer and chair, as well as playing for Menai Bridge Band.

Sam got involved in UniBrass by leading the bid to bring it to Bangor at the end of his second year and chaired the contest in its first year in Bangor, following which he became a UniBrass Foundation trustee as the secretary. 

Abi Groocock

Originally from the Midlands, Abi is the Regional Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Royal Northern Sinfonia, the orchestra based at Sage Gateshead - home of the Brass in Concert Championships - where she works on and promotes the community and education work of the orchestra. Prior to working in arts administration and marketing, Abi studied music at Durham University. Here she was President and then Conductor of the university band, whom she conducted in their winning performance at the first UniBrass Shield competition, as well as President of the music society. Abi is an active member of the brass band community in North East England where she plays baritone for Fishburn Band and has worked for the Northern Regional Brass Band Trust. 

Brett Baker

Brett Baker is viewed internationally as a leading brass performer and educator. He is passionate about encouraging composers to write pioneering new repertoire and is one of the most recorded brass soloists in his chosen genre. Brett is General Manager of Geneva Group, an ambassador for Michael Rath Brass Instruments and Principal Trombone of the world-famous Black Dyke Band. He is a Past Chair and Past President of the British Trombone Society and increasingly works as a conductor and adjudicator in festivals as well as in brass and wind band competitions.


In 2000 Brett was invited to join Black Dyke Band achieving enviable concert and contest successes most recently the European Brass Band Championships in 2015 and Yorkshire Area in 2020. As well as a busy performance schedule, Brett enjoys presenting workshops, specialising in solo performance and band training and adjudicating. Brett has played as a soloist at the International Trombone Festival (USA) and Trombonanza in Argentina, the American Trombone Workshop in Virginia, the Great American Brass Band
Festival in Kentucky, as well as the Singapore, Philippine and Thai Low Brass Festivals. In 2020 he won the ITA Presidents Award for Solo Performance and services to the International Trombone Association.

Alex Parker

BBE Nominated Trustee

"Parky” has been playing the cornet since childhood, studying with Harrow Young Musicians and at the Guildhall where he had his first brass band. In 2008, he became heavily involved in the university brass band at the University of Warwick where he studied chemistry for 9 years as an undergraduate and PhD student. He is also a budding conductor and has conducted prize-winning performances at Whit Friday, National Concert Band Festivals and at the Leicester Brass Band Association contest with the University of Warwick brass band.

As well as playing and conducting he has also become heavily involved in many other areas of banding. He was heavily involved in UniBrass during all three years at Warwick and was crucial in helping UniBrass grow to be what it is today. He has also worked in Kampala for “Brass for Africa” and in 2018 joined BBE as their relationship and development manager.

Organising Committee Ex-Officio Trustees

To facilitate strong links between the trustees and the UniBrass Organising Committee, and to assist in our aim of supporting the contest, each year the chair and treasurer of the current organising committee are invited to join the board of trustees during their term. You can find out more about them on the Organising Committee page by clicking their images below

Voirrey Baker
(UOC Chair)

Rebecca Rowley
(UOC Treasurer)

Become a Trustee Button

Become a Trustee

Get involved as a trustee of our charity


Organising Committee

The people behind the contest