In January 2016, Simone’s father, Harold Cohen died very suddenly. She placed her mum, Fay, in Donisthorpe for respite while she organised care. Sadly she died 10 days later, but she was able to spend those last few days in her sister Josie Vosper’s company at Donisthorpe Hall, where her sister had lived for nine years until passing away last November, aged 96.
When her aunt Josie died, Yvonne Gossett, who was then the Donisthorpe Hall manager, asked Simone, a keen bassoon player for White Rose Concert Band, asked if the band would come and play for the residents. “I informed her that we are a large ensemble, not really suited to that type of performance,” recalls Simone, “But that I would ask the band if they would be willing to perform a concert as a fundraiser for the home, in memory of my parents and aunt.”
“I began playing bassoon about 10 years ago, and joined the White Rose training band, eventually becoming of the standard required to join the main band.” Simone explains. The White Rose Concert Band is a community band in Harrogate, rehearsing in Huby on Thursday evenings, and welcomes any adult players of woodwind or brass without audition, the standard being Grade 3 for training band, and grade 5 and above for main band. The band formed in 1976, and has been under the baton and musical direction of Ben Tierney, a former RAF musician since 1998.
The band chose music which her parents and aunt would have enjoyed, and since her Aunt Josie has a great friendship with Donisthorpe’s Scottish receptionist, they included a Scottish medley of reels and jigs. Simone’s parents loved the theatre, so medleys from West Side Story, My Fair Lady, Phantom of the Opera, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat were selected. Harold’s nickname ‘BeeBop’ as a young man meant they also included some jazz piece, plus many more for a two-hour concert.
The Donisthorpe concert attracted a large audience that included friends, family and neighbours of Simone’s parents, and having raised a substantial amount for the home, the band has been asked to perform again for them on 6th October 2019. “My aunt hated people wearing all black,” Simone reveals, “which is our standard performance dress, so in her honour, our ladies wore coloured scarves, and the men a coloured tie.”
The White Rose Concert Band can be seen performing across the region, such as the Spring and Autumn Harrogate Flower Shows, as well as at the Ilkley bandstand at 2pm on 19th May, Knaresborough Castle at 2pm on 2nd June, Ripon Spa Gardens at 2pm on 16th June, Pateley Bridge Bandstand from 2pm on 30th June and the Valley Gardens in Harrogate at 2pm 14th July.