Bader’s Big Band Follow in Glenn Miller’s Footsteps

Bader’s Big Band put on a concert on Saturday 17th August at the beautiful Bentley Priory Museum and it was a resounding success.

The concert marked the 75th anniversary of Glenn Miller’s renowned performance at RAF Bentley Priory in 1944 and we have no doubt that the reputedly hard-to-please Glenn Miller himself would have been impressed. Certainly those fortunate enough to be there were treated to an hour of uplifting music, well-known and not so well-known pieces some featuring the beautiful voice of Bader’s Big Band vocalist, Emma. The Band was rewarded by a standing ovation!

This was foot-tapping music at its best and it was hard for many to stay in their chairs at all! The band performed 11 songs, some written and/or performed by Glen Miller himself, followed by an encore by very popular demand to a full house; every ticket having been snapped up almost as soon as the event was publicised.


Not having heard them perform live since their very first rehearsal almost 3 years ago I was bowled over by the Band’s development. From a random group of talented musicians, they are now a cohesive, confident unit producing a tight sound and the musical trust between them is palpable.

Paul, who led them yesterday, introduced each piece of music with interesting and often humorous facts (who knew that Skyfall, the powerful introductory song to the James Bond film of the same name, was released at 7 minutes past midnight….? Get it?!)

If the date was auspicious, so was the venue; as Headquarters Fighter Command, Bentley Priory played a pivotal role during the Battle of Britain in 1940 and the Museum tells its fascinating story. The Band played in the  Ballroom, which as well as its amazing sky-painted ceiling (could have been made for Skyfall!) and views over the Italian Gardens had the added bonus of wonderful acoustics. 

Watching these talented musicians play together was heart-warming. And a very emotional experience – as was evidenced when David Bickers, visibly moved, got up to congratulate the Band at the end of their performance. 

We are very grateful to all at Bentley Priory for their support; for providing the Big Band with such a perfect venue and for looking after us all so well.

Bader's Big Band at Bentley Priory Programme Cover
Bader’s Big Band at Bentley Priory Programme Cover
Bader's Big Band at Bentley Priory Concert Programme
Bader’s Big Band at Bentley Park Concert Programme

About the Band

Bader’s Big Band are proud to be the first British Big Band consisting predominantly of musicians with a physical or mental disability. All the musicians have had to overcome a broad range of personal challenges and represent the indomitable spirit of Sir Douglas Bader himself. The initiative was created by the Douglas Bader Foundation to showcase ability, to continue to challenge people’s perception of disability and to highlight the tremendous benefits that music can bring. Together we aim to encourage others to take up music to help to support their rehabilitation and enhance their lives.

Join Bader’s Big Band

Especially now that they are playing concerts, Bader’s Big Band is looking for new members both to perform regularly and to act as back up in the event of absence. It would be ideal to try to achieve strength in depth across as many different instruments as possible.

If you’d be interested in joining, please contact Charley Bickers in the first instance by emailing: for a chat. This is a wonderfully friendly, supportive group of people and as well as the satisfaction of making good music with a lovely group of musicians, we hope you’ll have a lot of fun doing it!

Video Link:


  • Glenn Miller (for more information about Glenn Miller and his Band)

Huge thanks to all the musicians of Bader’s Big Band. We couldn’t be more proud of you all and what you’ve achieved. Thank you for your faith in this project and the work and time you put into it. Your dedication and commitment means that, exactly as we intended, Bader’s Big Band is not simply the first Big Band formed almost entirely of musicians with disabilities, but is a great Band in its own right. That is truly inspiring!