Here at OPM we are proud of our team, their qualities, skills and qualifications make them great at what they do every day – But it is their passion that makes them the best at what they do.

OPM are proud to share an interest and support the passion behind our people.

And so would like to share that passion with you ….

Our Personal Motivation Sarah’s Passion

By Sarah Straughton | Credit Control 

Music is my passion

The first time I was introduced to a musical instrument was when I was in middle school. We had a choice of instruments to learn and my first choice was the clarinet. Unfortunately, I was told they had no more clarinets that I could borrow and so was offered the flute instead. This was where my journey began and I never looked back.  I started off by having weekly lessons, half an hour long in my lunch break. I struggled at first but with determination and practice managed to get the basics in place. From there I was offered the chance to play basic hymns with a group of other students accompanied by a piano at school masses. My time at middle school was then cut short as a decision had been made to close all the middle schools and progress straight to high school.

While at high school, I decided to join the school orchestra. It was very daunting at first as Mr O’Rouke, the teacher in charge of the orchestra, was extremely strict and always demanded we played right first time. As I was still in the early stages of playing I was beginning to wonder if I joined the orchestra too soon. I decided to stick it out and then 6 months later Mr. O’Rouke decided to retire from the school and a new music teacher took over, Miss Howman. She was a lot more relaxed and patient, encouraging the students even when we made mistakes. From here onwards my confidence grew.

There were plenty of opportunities that came about from playing in the school orchestra. I played at the Alhambra Theatre once in an orchestra consisting of students from various schools for an amateur dance school who were putting on a production. It was thoroughly enjoyable and I did make a lot of friends from the experience. My greatest achievement at this time was in 1997. I was asked to be part of an orchestra playing in Centenary Square in Bradford for its grand opening. We would be playing for the Queen who was coming along to do the honours of officially opening it. I do remember this day was also quite a sad day for me. My Grandma had just passed away and her funeral was on the same day. I was still able to do both as the funeral was in the morning and the performance was in the afternoon so I still attended and even got to meet Her Royal Highness.

After high school I then went on to university to study Mathematics at the University of Hertfordshire. During fresher’s week I browsed all the various stands exploring what activities were available to students. This was where I came across the Herfortshire Concert Band. A concert band consisting of adults and students, they rehearsed on campus every Tuesday evening. After a slow start I seemed to settle in well and the other band members were very welcoming. We played a number of concerts at the university itself which I did come to enjoy once the nerves had passed. As I was so far away from home my Mum and Dad were unable to come and see me play but in their place my Aunt and Uncle used to drive all the way from Slough and later on Nottingham to show their support. They were there for every concert and this meant the world to me.

While playing in this band we joined forces with the Minnesota State Band from America for a once in a lifetime concert. It was amazing to play alongside some really established players and to learn some tips and techniques from them too. As my time at university came to an end I knew I would be leaving the band soon as I would be heading back home. We had one last concert to play at the university and I fell in love with one particular piece of music we were playing, Highlights from the Lion King. There were various flute solos within this piece of music and I remember Sian who played first flute come up to me and said “we have decided to share the flute solos this time round and if you feel up to it we would like you to play the one at the very beginning of the piece.” I was so excited at the opportunity to play my first ever solo although when it came to the night of the show I was a complete bag of nerves. As usual my Aunt and Uncle had come along to see my final performance along with a few of my friends that I had made from uni. The icing on the cake for me though was the surprise guests that had arrived. My Aunt and Uncle had arranged for my Mum and Dad to come and see me play. I was so emotional it made me even more determined to get through my solo to make them proud. I managed it perfectly and seeing how proud my parents were was the perfect way to finish.

After leaving uni I stopped playing for a number of years. I was out of the music loop so to speak and focussed more on getting a job and starting to earn a living. My mum is a teaching assistant in primary school and she also helps with the school choir. 7 years after leaving university I attended one of my mum’s school choir concerts. This was where I was introduced to Bradford Concert Band. I listened to them play and it seemed they played all the similar pieces of music that I had played when I was in Herfordshire. I got in touch with the Director and she invited me along “for a blow” to see how I got on. I wasn’t as good as I used to be as I hadn’t played for so long and even playing 2nd flute was challenging enough music for me. Still I stuck it out and I’m still there today.

There have been numerous changes since joining the band. We have had 4 musical directors, I was moved up from 2nd flute to 1st flute, became the section leader, joined the band committee, nominated to play all solos and I was even encouraged to learn to play a new instrument, the piccolo. As a concert band we play concerts all over Leeds and Bradford – Robert’s Park in Saltaire, Christmas Markets at Bradford Industrial Museum, Harrogate Flower Show, Tour De France and the Epilepsy Charity Run in Bradford to name a few. We even went on a tour of Jersey and played various concerts while we were there which was amazing. We also have a social aspect, organising various weekend excursions including Whitby and Keswick where we spend time away from the music and just enjoying each other’s company. Joining this band was the best thing I ever did and has encouraged me to grow in confidence and tackle pieces of music I never thought I would be able to play. The best part is that I have a new family of friends who I love spending time with both inside and outside of the rehearsal room.

For more information about Bradford Concert Band and their upcoming performances please visit