“The best guitarist that I have ever seen live” – Dorset Island Discs


Philip Coward is chairman of Hillbrush, sits on the Royal Warrant Holders Association executive committee and has been a Mere councillor for 46 years
Philip Coward Chairman of Hillbrush

I grew up in Mere, right across the road from our family’s brush-making business which was started by my grandfather and great-uncle in 1922. I always had an interest in building things and in anything mechanical. My father was an engineer and I followed in his footsteps, gaining a degree in mechanical engineering from Brunel University in 1974.
I married Pammy just after graduating and joined the family company a few months later – after failing to obtain a permit to work in the USA. I managed the production at Hillbrush (then the Hill Brush Company) for several years before taking over the management of the company.
Five years ago we built a new factory on the western side of Mere, which enabled the company to address sustainability issues and be far more efficient. I handed over the running of the company to my son Charlie and nephew Andy, and I am now chairman. This year the company is celebrating its 100th anniversary which is a testimony to the amazing employees past and present.
Over the years I have been involved in our industry manufacturer associations and I’m still a board member of the European Brush Manufacturers Federation, based in the Netherlands.
Our company has held a Royal Warrant to HM the Queen for more than 40 years, and last year I became Honorary Treasurer of the Royal Warrant Holders Association. I sit on the Executive Committee, and I am a trustee of its charity fund.
I have always been interested in the town where our business is located, and I am now in my 46th year as a Mere town councillor, which may be a record!
Since passing on the day-to-day running of the company, I naturally have more time to devote to my interests outside of brushmaking, including maintaining the farm where we live, boating in Poole Harbour and travelling. As well as Charlie, we have a daughter, Clare, who lives not far away, and four grandchildren, who we obviously love seeing regularly.

And so to Philip’s eight music choices, along with how and why they stuck in his life:

We Can Work It Out
The Beatles
I had to have a Beatles song! They were so influential during my schooldays and their songs still stand the test of time. Who would have thought that Paul McCartney would have headlined at Glastonbury at the age of 80!

All Along the Watchtower
Jimi Hendrix
I am a great Hendrix fan – I think he was the best guitarist that I have ever seen live. I just wish that I could have played as well as him!

A Whiter Shade of Pale
Procul Harum
This has to be one of the most amazing pop records ever produced and brings back so many memories of my later school days.

25 or 6 to 4
Just a great record, released when I was at university.
Laudate Dominum
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
… but specifically performed by the Sherborne Chamber Choir with my wife Pammy as soloist. If I had this on my desert island, I could listen to her amazing voice and it would make me determined to escape!

Symphony No 2 in D. Op 43 – I Allegretto
Quite simply, this is a magical piece of music and I love Sibelius.

Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor. Op 18 – III Allegro Scherzando
This is such a moving piece of music, and one which I would never tire of on the island.

If you could see me now
The Script
This record would make me dance around the island!

And if the waves were to wash all your records away but you had time to save just one, which would it be?
It would have to be the Laudate Dominum

My Book
I would be bored re-reading any of my favourite novels, and instead I would like the Complete DIY manual by Readers Digest. Although I am very practical, there is always another skill to learn which might help me to escape from the island.

For my luxury, I would like to have a toolbox, but I suspect that’s not allowed (No! – Ed). So I would like to ask for my choice of pillows, so that could at least have a good night’s sleep.


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