Jack Butcher OAM

The League extends hearty congratulations to Jack Butcher on the occasion of his receiving the Medal of the Order of Australia in the 1999 Australia Day Awards. Jack has had a long association with the VBL as a both a Musical Director and as a Champion flugel horn player. The award was given “for service to the community through brass bands and choirs”.

Jack Butcher OAMJack was born in Colac on 7th January 1927 to parents with a strong Salvation Army background and musical interests. He learned the piano together with his brother Allen, and played cornet and tenor horn in the Colac Salvation Army Band, where his brother also played trombone. They often played duets together.

His brother joined the Merchant Navy, but Jack worked with his father around the Western District, painting and decorating many of the local homes. His community service began there through the scouting movement as a Patrol Leader and Deputy Scoutmaster. Joining the RAAF near the end of World War 2, Jack trained in signals, and was posted to “Frognall” in Camberwell and then to Darwin. After demobilisation he joined the PMG’s Department (now Telstra).

Boarding in Glenhuntly brought him to the local Methodist Church, where he met a young lady in the choir named Elva, who played the piano. They married in 1950 and built a home in Chadstone, which was then a largely undeveloped area. They stayed there 30 years, and were members at the Chadstone Methodist Church, where they were both deeply involved in the musical side of worship, with Jack as choirmaster, and Elva as pianist and organist.

Just two years after their marriage Jack joined Malvern Municipal Band, where MD Bill Philpott encouraged him to play the flugel horn. On that instrument he won the National title in Perth in 1959, and went on to win three more:

  • 1964 Ballarat
  • 1969 Tasmania
  • 1980 South Australia

He was appointed Deputy Bandmaster at Malvern in 1970. The picture above shows Jack in the uniform of the Shire of Flinders Concert Band on the occasion of his winning the Victorian Open Flugel Horn Championship in 1985.

In 1974 Jack became Musical Director of Croydon Citizens’ Brass Band, and during his tenure of seven years raised the standard of the band from ‘D’ to ‘B’ grade. Jack said he enjoyed his time at Croydon, teaching Junior players, and raising the general standard of the band. A particular highlight was the winning of the South Australian ‘C’ grade championship in 1978 from eight other bands. He left Croydon in 1980 as he had moved to his beach home in Rye, and on leaving was made an Honorary Life Member of Croydon Citizens’ Bands. He was already an Honorary Life Member of Malvern Band (1978). He travelled to work in Melbourne each weekday for the next ten years.

Visiting the Shire of Flinders Concert Band in 1982, he was persuaded to become MD where once again he raised the standard of this non-contesting band, persuading them to join the VBL. In 1986 Jack and two young members from Flinders won at the VBL Solos, a feat which Jack repeated in 1989. Meanwhile Jack organised a church choir which grew to become the “Southern Peninsula Interchurch Choir”; the Band and the choir held joint concerts, and the choir tackled some quite difficult works under his direction. When he left the Flinders Band in 1991 he received another Honorary Life Membership.

In 1997 he retired from the choir, but continues to make music with a local group of five. His four children and at least nine grandchildren also keep him busy. Various members of the local Mornington Peninsula community groups submitted Jack’s name for well deserved recognition, culminating in his receipt of an OAM.

The VBL congratulates Jack, and encourages bands and local communities to submit other names for awards. There were two other awards in the 1999 Australia Day honours relating to community music, and both were from NSW. We are sure there are many other worthy recipients in Victoria. The necessary papers for submission can be obtained from the Premier’s Department.

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