Terence "Terry" Noel MBE

Terence "Terry" Noel was born in 1940, Arima, Trinidad.

He spent his formative years at Arima Boys Roman Catholic School. At the age of 14, he began to play steelpans with Teenstars and later joined the Arima Melodians (now Melodians Steel Orchestra).

Many Trinidadians who mastered the steelpans while growing up pursue a career in music, but Terrence chose a completely different career path.

In 1962, he joined the Trinidad and Tobago Police Force and then became a member of the inaugural independence Squad. His passion for horseracing led him to join the Mounted Police Branch.

In 1967, after reading about job opportunities in the nursing profession in England, Terence decided to emigrate and make a career change. Shortly after his arrival he began his training as a psychiatric nurse at the University of Leicester. During this time, he replied to an advertisement for a steelband, and this led him to join a steelband group who also responded to the advertisement. It was not long before he seized the opportunity to become the bandleader as the previous bandleader emigrated to America. After taking charge of the steelband, Terence changed the name to the 'Melodians', and within a few years the band's popularity grew tremendously.

In 1972, The Melodians recorded an album " In the mood for dancing” with Terence featuring on the front cover. Later that year Terence left the Melodians and returned to Trinidad to work as a social worker and then as an assistant Director of the Chaguramus Youth Camp. He returned to England in 1973, this time settling in Harrow and worked as a Youth Community Officer.

In 1975, he organised the first Adult Steelband Music Festival held at the Commonwealth Institute in London; became a founding member and chairman of the Commonwealth Arts Association and founded the world famous Groovers Steel Orchestra sponsored by British Airways.

In 1976, he became one of the founding members of the Steelband Association of Great Britain (SAGB).

In 1977, he wrote a steelpan book titled 'The steelband: From Bamboo to Pan' published by the Commonwealth Institute.

In 1978, he staged the first ever Commonwealth Arts Festival in conjunction with the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada. To coincide with this, the Groovers produced their first single 'Commonwealth Tempo', which was the theme to the BBC coverage of the Commonwealth games.

In 1982, Terence commissioned a piece of music which was recorded by the Groovers and presented to the late Princess Diana on the birth of her son Prince William.

In 1987, Terry acquired a national sponsor (British Telecom) for his band, which he then renamed the Melodians Steel Orchestra.

In 1988, Terry founded the Steel Advisory Service, an organisation set up to advise anyone interested in setting up a steelband or getting involved in its running. He also wrote a steelband book 'Play Pan: Learn music the steelband way'. This book was the first publication in a series by Trentham Books, celebrating various types of music, and was transcribed to a compact disc.

In 1992, Terence returned to law enforcement as a magistrate for the London Borough of Brent.

In 2000, Terence united pupils from both a Catholic and a Protestant School for a steelpan workshop. This came about as a member of the Melodians band was also a steelband tutor in Northern Ireland. The workshop resulted in the two steelbands performing as one band in a Junior Festival held in Barbados.

In 2008, Terence was awarded the Community Centre and Culture award from the Royal Chartered Borough of Arima, Trinidad, as acknowledgement for his contribution to the promotion of steelpan music globally. Malabar Housing Development has a street named in his honour - 'Terence Noel Place'.

In 2010, Terence retired as a Magistrate and turned his energies to playing steelband full-time.

In 2012, Terence and Dr Jill Scafe launched a series of steelpan examinations.

In 2013, the Melodians produced the background music for 'English Magic', an Exhibition created by Jeremy Deller from the British Council, and was the British representation at the Venice Bienniale 2013.

Terence's globe-trotting achievements in promoting English and Trinidadian steelpan culture have with no doubt laid the foundations for many steelbands and provided entertainment for Royalty in various parts of the world.  

In 2015, Terry was awarded an MBE (Member of the Most excellent Order of the British Empire) for his services to music.