I always enjoy the British Association of Steelbands (BAS) Awards. I’ve been attending annually since I was a teenager, when I was a part of the Ebony Steelband. It’s a great way to celebrate your accomplishments in the steelpan arena. From that time, into my early 20s, I continued to enjoy the wonderful festive dinner and the dancefloor that kicks off after the awards ceremony, until 2am.
Steelpan became my livelihood and lifestyle when I formed my business, Steel Pan Agency, in 2010 and my charity, Steel Pan Trust, in 2013. Now the meaning for me of the awards presentation has changed, and in 2015 I received the Outstanding Achievements Award in honour of my work. I now look forward to the ceremony, and to learning what people have achieved during the year; you often discover for the first time work that is underway. Thanks to the BAS Awards, people are recognised for their wonderful achievements and accomplishments.
Steel Pan Trust events have added four new BAS Awards to the ceremony, with Pan Clash and Classorama. Our table was a full house with trustees, BAS Award winners and their guests. Pan Clash Champions included Ebow Mensah, who won the over 16’s category, and Lola Peach, who won the under 16’s category. Both of these young people, aged 14 and 16 respectively, were also the champions of Classorama (School Steelband Competition) in July, with Kingsdale Foundation School. Marlon Hibbert, their tutor at the school, received an award on their behalf, as did steelpan tutor Dan Sadler for winning the Classorama primary school championship with Harris Academy Coloraine Park.
Other awards on the night included Best Traditional Steelband, which went to Nostalgia Steelband; Best Youth Steelband joint winners were Ebony Steelband and St Michael and All Angels Steel Orchestra. The latter also won the Best Conventional Steelband at Notting Hill Carnival. The Ebony Steelband won Junior Panorama, J’Ouvert Bomb Competition and UK National Panorama.
The Crystal Gail Holder Award is in memory and celebration of Crystal Holder, a talented pannist and all-round musician. Crystal was noted for the support and encouragement she gave to young people. The award is presented to someone who’s 25 or younger and is dedicated and talented, with that extra something which sets them aside from their peers – and Ashley Gateson was the recipient this year. She has played in Panorama in London and Trinidad and has started her own steelband, Pan Up, which this year met the requirements necessary to achieve membership of BAS.
The Outstanding Achievement Award went to Jacqueline Roberts. Director of SV2G, based in High Wycombe, she is achieving great things in building the capacity of steelpan tutors in schools. Jacqueline is a member of the local council’s Minority Ethnic Advisory Committee, and is Deputy Chair of the Wycombe Caribbean Association.
The BAS Hall Of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award went to Mary-Veneita Genis, founder of CultureMix in Reading. In 2006 she received a BBC Radio Berkshire Community Award, and in 2013 was listed as one of the top 10 women in the cultural life of Berkshire.