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News > Life After Hymers > Alumnus is now Head of Hull Music Service

Alumnus is now Head of Hull Music Service

James H. Dickinson attended Hymers College between September 1981 and December 1983
James in his Hymers College Junior School uniform
James in his Hymers College Junior School uniform

We recently heard from James Dickinson, who attended Hymers College before moving out of the area.  Through his career, he has now returned back to Hull.


I grew up In Park Avenue in the 1970's and early 1980's when my dad was a teacher at Sir Henry Cooper School (now Sirius North) I attended Newland Primary School (very briefly) and then had an extremely happy time at Newland St John’s Primary School.

After finishing primary school, I started Hymers in the second year of Junior School. I was joined by my brother Matt the subsequent year and we stayed until December 1983 after I had completed one term of senior school. We then moved to Cambridgeshire. My time at Hymers was therefore quite short - two and a bit years - but I have very happy memories.

I had already started learning the French horn whilst at NSJ and attended Training Orchestra at the old Hull Music Service base in Park Street. The conductor was a (very!) young Chris Maynard (OH 1964-73), also an old Hymerian, who would go on to be Head of Hull Music Service - more of that later!

Music, was, therefore, already a big part of my life when I arrived at Hymers and I remember concerts in red blazers, singing in the choir, and playing in the school orchestra and senior wind band, which was conducted by a (very!) young Andrew Penny. I was very proud of the lunch pass Mr Penny gave me which meant I could jump the lunch queue on the day his ensemble rehearsed! I remember playing Christmas Carols with the Brass Ensemble for the switching on of the lights at Paragon Station, feeling extremely cold in my Junior School shorts whilst everyone else seemed more suitably attired! I was also then playing in Hull Music Service’s Junior Youth Orchestra conducted by the then Head of Service, Geoffrey Heald-Smith.

I have vivid memories of extremely good members of staff, particularly in the Junior School - Mr Chapman, Mr Mann, Mr Harston and of course Mr Ransom - who was very scary (but fair!) I had a French pen-friend (Pierre) who came with me to school for a week and was made to feel very welcome by my friends and staff. The trip to Hadrian’s Wall, and staying at St Hilda’s College in Durham was another highlight.

After leaving Hymers, I traveled back to Hull for horn lessons with my then teacher, long-standing music service, and Hymer's brass teacher, Garry Oglesby. I did this journey regularly until I was 16 when I got into both the National Youth Orchestra and the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music. This finally brought my regular links with Hull to a close.

After reading music at Oxford University and time as a brass teacher and Mastering Studio Manager, I left music altogether becoming the marketing director of two software companies in London. I was then appointed Projects & Activities Manager for Hertfordshire Music Service in 2003 and became Head of Service in 2007. Hertfordshire was awarded three Diplomas of Merit from the National Music Council under my leadership.

I was Federation of Music Services (later to become Music Mark - The UK Association for Music Education) Eastern Regional Convenor 2012-16 and was elected as a Music Mark Trustee in 2016 and became Chair in 2017. From 2010, I also played Solo Horn in Amersham Band.

In October 2018, life came full circle when I succeeded Chris Maynard as Head of Hull Music Service, Lead Partner for Hull Music Hub. Also still on the staff - Garry Oglesby, and on our Hub Board - Andrew Penny! Since returning north I have also become a Trustee of Grimethorpe Colliery Band and Yorkshire Young Musicians.

Based in the purpose built Albemarle Music Centre in the heart of the City, my Hull Music Service team and I are committed to “putting music at the heart of Hull". Our bands, orchestras, ensembles, and choirs are free and are open to all young musicians in Hull - including all at Hymers. I am thoroughly enjoying my role in developing and promoting music-making across the city in as many ways as possible.

For more information on Hull Music Service: www.hullmusichub.com / Twitter: @hullmusichub / FaceBook: The Albemarle Music Centre

Follow James on Twitter: @jdhornblower

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