The leader of Kirklees youth music for 20 years is retiring from the role … but he’ll still remain very much on the local music scene.

Thom Meredith joined Kirklees Music School as assistant principal in 1999 which later became Musica Kirklees. He became principal in 2004.

Thom will be handing the baton over to assistant principal Nick Dolling and officially leave at the end of September.

Although 57-year-old Thom will be leaving his role with Musica Youth Orchestra – formerly Kirklees Youth Symphony Orchestra – he is going freelance. As a well-known singer he’s sure to be in demand as a soloist for choirs, running musical workshops and singing in shows and music hall events.

He said: “I’ll certainly carry on being as musical as I can possibly be.”

Thom, a baritone, will also remain principal of Colne Valley Male Voice Choir and will also be taking on a new role as musical director of the 100-strong Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir based in Wakefield.

A special concert will be staged at Huddersfield Town Hall on Saturday, July 15, called Thank You For The Music, Mr Meredith featuring at least 160 musicians who have played in the youth orchestras over the years. They are choosing their favourite pieces to play and after the concert there will be a chance for them to catch up with one another.

The concert to celebrate Thom’s years of dedication starts at 7pm and tickets are available from £10 or £5 for people aged 21 or under at  Alternatively, call 01484 225755.

It’s a charity concert with any proceeds going to the ‘Gift of Music Scheme (  which helps provide pupils with music lessons if they can’t afford them – a topic very close to Thom’s heart.

He said: “It’s been a brilliant job to play such a big part in music throughout Kirklees – a huge honour.

“Sadly, the funding is dreadful for the arts in Kirklees at the moment. We desperately need more funding for young people who can’t afford to pay for music lessons. We need to do more to help children in challenging circumstances to make the most from music.”

Thom said one of his major achievements was founding Kirklees Youth Symphony Orchestra in 2000.

“There was no symphony orchestra for young people in Kirklees when I started and it’s gone from strength to strength,” he said.

Thom studied singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama while reading Music at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he was awarded an Exhibition as conductor of the Chapel Choir (1985-87).

Following his graduation he gained a PGCE qualification from the University of Leeds and taught music in schools in North and West Yorkshire including seven years as Head of Music and then Head of Year at Colne Valley High School in Linthwaite before joining Kirklees Music School.

Thom, of Oakes, is married to Lynn, a conductor formerly in charge of Halifax Young Singers and now with Carlton Community Choir in Halifax.

They have one son, 31-year-old Harry, who said: “Dad has absolutely dedicated his life to music in Kirklees. He’s given it absolutely everything.”

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.