Pioneer Barbara has left a legacy bold as brass to Hemel Hempstead Band

Flashback to early days, with pioneering Barbara Overhead pictured centre, and inset.
Flashback to early days, with pioneering Barbara Overhead pictured centre, and inset.

Tributes have been paid to a woman believed to have been the first female band member in Hemel Hempstead.

Horn-player Barbara Overhead died aged 81 on July 18, after a short period of illness. Fellow musicians in the Hemel Hempstead Band, of which she was a founding member, describe her as a pioneer for young women of her time.

Barbara, whose maiden name was Waite, was born into a brass banding family and in 1945 joined her father William as a teenage player in the Boxmoor Silver Band.

Writing decades later, Barbara recalled: “I was probably the first female in any of the bands in this area.

“I was not to expect any favours. I would put my own music stand up, and after we had finished I would put my own music stand down and put it away in a box.”

The mother and grandmother met her husband Maurice through the band, which was formerly known as the Berkhamsted and Boxmoor Band and then the John Dickinson Apsley Band, before becoming the Hemel Hempstead Band as it is today. Maurice died in 2008, aged 78.

Barbara, who also leaves behind a son, grandson and sister, became the official custodian of the band’s records and later edited them into a book, A History of the Hemel Hempstead Band, 1870-2007, which Maurice lived to see.

The band’s president Peter Davis said: “The book is Barbara’s personal legacy to brass banding.

“She will be missed for her wide knowledge of music, her sharp and ready wit, and above all for her lively personality and most pleasant manner in the band.

“She was an indefatigable treasure, serving the community and the good of her fellow bandsmen and bandswomen.”

Barbara’s funeral is to be held on Thursday, August 1, at 4pm in West Herts Crematorium in Garston. The band will play pieces chosen by Barbara and past players and friends are welcome to attend.