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Michelle Gray

I began playing clarinet at the age of 10 in Surrey, where I grew up. I started playing in the local youth orchestra, and then joined the Surrey County Wind Orchestra. This gave me a huge appreciation of playing together with other musicians, and also meant I had to raise my game significantly! After university, and having moved to Kent, I played the clarinet less and less (and more and more guitar!). My instrument remained in the case for many years, only being brought out for carols at Christmas, until my friend’s daughter started playing clarinet. She joined the Gravesend Training Band, and when I heard them, it rekindled all the wonderful memories of playing in an orchestra. I joined the training band, then Gravesend Borough Band, and the rest is history. Although I am not a professional musician, I am extremely glad to say music is once again a part of my life, and I love playing all styles of music.

Helen Hopkins

"I started playing piano at 7 and then took up the saxophone whilst at secondary school. I loved playing in the school swing band, The Moonlighters, and was lucky enough to join the West Kent Wind Band and the Kent Youth Wind Orchestra. My love of music led me to study at Colchester Institute of Higher Education gaining a GMus. Alongside my career in charity fundraising, I was in a duo '2 the Rhythm', playing rock, pop, blues and funk music and Blues Brothers tribute evenings. Music took a back seat for a few years with a young family and then I challenged myself to learn piano swing and blues standards and now play at drinks receptions for dinner dances and private parties. I joined Peninsula Big Band rhythm section playing keyboard in 2017 - it's good to be back playing fantastic music and being part of a band again."

Harry Poile

Harry's musical life started at the age of 7 when he took up the recorder. He then progressed to the clarinet which he played for some time, joining the Darenth Valley youth band which his teacher ran. Whilst at secondary school he was introduced to the Gravesend Borough training band and main band. Having a brief time on a clarinet stand he moved on to the alto sax and eventually played 1st alto at many bandstand Sunday concerts.  Whilst still at Chatham Boys Grammar he joined The Kent Youth Jazz Band and was then invited to join the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.

More recently he took over the 1st tenor stand for the PBB and has also just embarked on his degree at The London College of Creative Media where he is doing his BA in Contemporary Music, performance and production.

Suzanne Francis

I grew up in Medway and spent much of my time playing recorder, piano and violin and alto saxophone in various orchestras and music groups – before a sideways move onto the baritone saxophone led to me joining Kent Youth Jazz Orchestra on top of everything else! After leaving school I went to the University of East Anglia, Norwich, graduating with a BA (Hons) Music degree in 2004, a Masters in Music Research (MMus) in 2006 and a PhD in Musicology in 2011 (it’s a standing joke that I studied Beethoven, a composer not known for his saxophone output!) I now work full-time for a London-based organisation but still enjoy making music whenever I can, both as a solo and ensemble performer. I’m a member of Kaleidoscope Creative Arts Centre in Medway and joined Peninsula Big Band in late 2019.