Markyate man to get MBE for 'outstanding' services to music at National Youth Jazz Orchestra

Nigel Tully will head to Buckingham Palace next year to receive his MBE
Nigel Tully will head to Buckingham Palace next year to receive his MBE
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A Markyate man is set to be awarded an MBE for his ‘outstanding’ services to music.

Nigel Tully, who is the chief executive of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, will head to Buckingham Palace to pick up the gong having been included in the New Year’s Honours list.

Nigel. 74, has brought in more than £1million in funding during his time at the helm since 2009.

Before that, he had been on the board of trustees for the orchestra for nine years.

“I’m very glad that I’ve got it,” said Nigel.

“It’s great for me, it’s great for jazz, and it’s good for being treated more seriously when it comes to fundraising!”

Nigel, who grew up in Leeds, first started playing guitar at the age of 12, having been inspired by the ‘King of Scuffle’ Lonnie Donegen.

He has now emulated his hero in getting the MBE.

Mr Tully started his band ‘The Dark Blues’ while he was studying Physics at Oxford.

The band has since performed more than 5,000 gigs, and over 500 for charities at no fee.

As well as being a passionate jazz lover, his work at the NYJO has not gone unnoticed,

During his tenure he has achieved Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation status for NYJO, developed an award-winning Learning and Participation programme with national impact, and established numerous international partnerships -such as with the German and Dutch National Youth Jazz Orchestras.

He said: “We now do a lot of workshops with schools at locations where the orchestra is performing, and I think it’s working very well.”

In addition to his achievements at NYJO, he has done a great deal for the jazz art form through his work with the Worshipful Company of Musicians as a PastMaster, and as the chair of its Jazz Committee.

Outside music, he also enjoyed a long business career at IBM, and now lives on a farm near Markyate with his wife Dr Deborah Cunningham, a fellow jazz fan who sponsors the NYJO flute choir.

Nigel added: “I think jazz is going to have its day again soon.

“I watch all the young people at music college, and 40 years ago they would have been doing classical music.

“Now the most serious musicians are doing jazz. With jazz you have to listen to what the person the other side of you is playing. I think it makes you a more rounded individual.”