Stonebridge grandfather wins lifetime achievement award

Tireless work by classical music teacher recognised by the British Association of Steel Bands

A grandfather who teaches children classical music with a Calypso twist on steel pan drums has been presented with a lifetime achievement award.

Alfred Totesaut, affectionately known as Freddy to his friends and family, began playing the steel pan when he was a boy growing up in Trinidad and even performed in front of Princess Margaret during the 1960s.

The father-of-five, who lives in Stonebridge, has won many awards over the years for being a successful musician as well as for helping youngsters stay out of trouble by teaching them how to play the steel drums.

Last year here was crowned a community champion by Brent Council but now he has been handed a lifetime achievement award by the British Association of Steel Bands.

He said: “Nobody told me anything about being given the award. It was a complete surprise. I had not even prepared a speech.

“When you do lots of things in your life, you don’t really think about yourself.

Most Read

“You think about the other people you are helping and you do it because you love it.”

In 1977, Freddy joined Metronomes Steel Orchestra and ploughed all his energies into the band – making drums as well as arranging compositions. His efforts played a major part in the band wining four UK National Panorama titles and establishing them as one of the UK’s leading steel orchestras.

These days Freddy focuses on helping disadvantaged youngsters in Brent.

For the past 16 years he has been working with the St Michael’s Youth Project, in Stonebridge, dedicating his time to helping young people become musicians and be part of The St Michael & All Angels Steel Orchestra.

His speciality is teaching them classical songs by composers including Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Mozart on the drums.

The youngsters then perform at care homes and day centres for older people and those with disabilities. The band is also a regular hit at Notting Hill Carnival.

Debi Gardner, from the British Association of Steel Bands, said: “Freddy is a legend within the UK’s steel band community and is celebrated as one of those responsible for the introduction, integration and continued development of pan in the UK.

“We are delighted to have presented him the life-time achievement award this year because he thoroughly deserves it for all the hard work he has put in over the years.”