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(Formerly Camberley & District Silver Band)
25 YEARS IN THE LIFE OF THE COMMUNITY
1960 – 1985
In this year of 1985, when the Grenadier Guards Band of which I was once Director of Music celebrates its 300th anniversary, the 25th anniversary of the Charles Church Camberley Band may seem to call for little in the way of notice. But as anyone in the musical world knows it is the first 25 years of the formation, training, achieving a standard of performance and quality of membership and, above all, maintaining the enthusiasm and loyalty of that membership which are the most difficult.
Once that nucleus of a band has been formed and moulded there is then a need for a regular influx of new players, preferably young people, learning from the older and more experienced players and, in their turn, growing older and wiser in the service of that band.
So it is with much pleasure that I am, from time to time, able to observe this natural evolution taking place in the band of which I have the privilege to be the Patron, aided by the wise counsel and musical guidance of its bandmaster and senior members, the enthusiasm of the young and, of course, the overall stability made possible by its supporters and the generosity of its sponsor, Charles Church.
Congratulations to all on the first twenty-five. May there be many more years of happy music making to come.
Lt. Col. Rodney Bashford, O. B. E. (Kneller Hall)
I was surprised to realise that the band will have been in existence for 25 years in November 1985 and, in looking back, one wonders where all those years have gone.
I was not one of its original members, but joined as a playing member early in 1961. In 1959, I had given up playing owing to pressure of work and it was two years later that Mr Hughes approached me and offered me the presidency of the band. I accepted this honour and started once again to play the cornet as a full member of the band. After 15 happy years of banding, my doctor ordered me to stop playing, and my offer then to resign as President was not accepted.
The atmosphere of the band is a very happy one, largely due to the Musical Director and Conductor, Mr Gerallt Hughes, who has the happy knack of getting the best out of people. To my knowledge, he has taught well over 100 young people, and quite a few older, to play an instrument which, over the years, has had the making of a comradeship in the band second to none.
Naturally, young people grow up, find other interests and give up playing, others move away and some stay; but nearly all who are taught an instrument have a better understanding and appreciation of music in all its forms.
Mr Hughes cares greatly about the welfare of the band’s personnel. His kindness, help and visitations to all members in times of illness has always been something that has helped to bind the band into a friendly community. His musicianship and ability as a cornet player is of the very best and one would have a difficult task in finding a person to take his place and do such excellent work. At this point, I feel it my privilege, on behalf of the members of the band, to say “Thank you very much, Mr Hughes, for all the love and hard work you have put into this band to make it the success that it is. Long may you reign in the position that you hold, and may we never forget what you have done”.
We are honoured to have, as our Patron, Lt. Col. Rodney Bashford, 0.B.E. (Kneller Hall), formerly Director of Music of the Grenadier Guards Band, and privileged to have him occasionally conduct the band at concerts.
We are also glad to have a very “Special Friend of the Band” by the name of Mr Jimmy Savile, O.B.E., K.C. S.G., who tries to visit us at least once a year to open and attend the annual ‘Camberley Organisations Quality Fair’. He generally takes up the baton to conduct the band while he’s there.
The Quality Fair, organised entirely by the band (and the brainchild of our President – Ed.) gives local charities the opportunity to have a stall in the Civic Hall, thus combining to make a large fair, usually on a Saturday in June. This fair is now in its 15th year and has been the means of collecting many thousands of pounds for local charities.
Those who have known the band for many years will probably wonder why the name was changed to the Charles Church Camberley Band. In 1983, Charles Church Developments Limited became the band’s sponsor, benefitting the band financially and practically. We now have new uniforms and several new instruments, thanks to the generosity of Mr Church.
The band’s officers serve it loyally, and mention should be made especially of Mr George Clarke, a founder member and the band’s treasurer from the outset, who has given his services freely, willingly and with a ready smile; also of our secretary, Mr John Roberts, who, with the support and help of his wife, Jill, has worked hard for the band since 1982 in this busy office; and of all the members of the band committee for their varied and valuable service. We are also grateful to the Camberley Methodist Church who, for several years now, have allowed us to make their Central Hall our bandroom.
May the next 25 years find us possibly with our own bandroom, so that members can come any night for practice, which will help us build an even better band; but let us not forget that this is a band with a family spirit – not for what we can get out of it, but for what we can put into it.
Happy Banding to you all!
CAMBERLEY & DISTRICT SILVER BAND – CHARLES CHURCH CAMBERLEY BAND
Just a Few Memories
Nov — Formation of band under Gerallt Hughes – dark streets – gas lighting – carolling huddled round tilley lamp — George Clarke and Frank Poston cycling from Sandhurst with their instruments on their backs.
1st Prize Hove – Major Thirt le patron – David Marson president – E D Beck secretary.
Harry Hines introduces batteries and bulbs for lyres – many contest successes – near panic as a barrel of torches flare up next to the band in the torchlight procession.
Band fete at Kingsclear.
Concert with college band at Bishops Otter College, Chichester (Major Jaegar).
Band film attains distinction at Amateur Film Festival in London.
Top ‘Cs’ now easier, low pitch adopted (Alillo) – band form choir for evening rehearsal – broadcast from St Michael’s Church.
S. Counties Quartets etc very successful – Lt. Col. Jaegar becomes patron of the band – 7 Contest awards and upgrading to 3rd Section – ‘A’ Quartet champions of S. Counties and London Home Counties.
Town Twinning Sucy-en-Brie in France. 1st Quality Fair – Lt. Col. Bashford, O.B.E., becomes our patron.
‘A’ Quartet 6th at Oxford (Championship of Great Britain contest) – delegates to Bietigheim Town Twinning.
Perform in “Hello Dolly” (7 nights).
We faced a deluge at the beginning of the Camberley Carnival – win 3rd Section Reading.
We march the Wombles to Harveys (A & N) – carolling changed from fifteen evenings to six.
Thanks to John Roberts, Jimmy Savile O.B.E. attends our Quality Fair – first visit to folk dance at Bath University.
Jimmy Savile walks from Land’s End to London – Kennet and Avon boat trip – sweltering fete at Westfield’s C. J. School.
Folk Dance at Cecil Sharpe House (London) – one hundred tunes (sponsored!) – Queen’s Silver Jubliee Concert.
Band and Youth play in Camberley Shopping Centre – Cap and Muffler evening with Jimmy Savile O.B.E. (pie and mushy peas).
Basingstoke Canal Trip.
Four of our young players appear on “Jim’ll Fix It” – Lt. Col. Bashford O.B.E. retires from Kneller Hall — Ken Thomas Body Scanner Concert raised £400.
Year of the Disabled town centre concert raised £228.
First visit to Pontins playing “The Shipbuilders” – concert for Green Jackets bomb tragedy with Watchetts School Choir.
After 22 years of devoted service Ted Beck resigns from the secretarial post – John Roberts becomes the new secretary – sponsorship by Charles Church Developments Limited gives us a welcome boost – after spending a week up a tree (for charity) Peter Wickham of the White Hart gets back to terra firma to the strains of our music — Guildford Cathedral fete – three Fridays at Army Cadet Training Centre.
Concert with Ravenscote C M School Choir in aid of Dogs for the Blind – Bietigheim/Bissingen Accordian Band visit (4 days) – South Hart Whit Monday fete, marches and church service etc, for the first time – played at Charles Church Esq’s residence on a Saturday and Sunday.
Played in marquee for Charles Church’s staff lunch – John Roberts fixes Jimmy Savile to present a silver salver to marathon runner Peter Hull (disabled) – enter our first entertainment contest – visit to Wisley Gardens – Concert with Watchetts C M School in aid of Frimley Park Hospital.
The Quest for Funds
As the only Treasurer the band has ever known, I am very grateful to the supporters who, over the years, have worked so hard to increase our funds.
We started off with an empty purse so it was agreed that all our adult members should pay one shilling (5p) a week and children sixpence (2 1/2p) to cover the rent due for an evening’s rehearsal at St Mary’s Hall, situated opposite Watchetts Road.
Then came our first Christmas – a bold effort indeed, as were the many following years, when, in spite of snow, rain, hail and frozen roads, we trouped the dark streets for fifteen nights of glorious(?) carol playing.
Mr Hughes, who trained a School Band at Mytchett, played carols with them for two hours before joining our band carolling. He then had to pump up a Tilley lamp and arrive on time, with his wife tumbling out of the car clutching the pole and lamp.
Mr Ted Beck and Mrs Beck were also stalwarts throughout those years and were backed by other dedicated collectors, including Mrs P Smith.
Then followed years of jumble sales, collections, engagements and one solitary fete held at Kingsclear in 1964, which raised £340, and these enabled the band to build up its library, instrument and uniform funds.
Another great asset to the band was the Quality Fair, the brainchild of Mr David Marson, which has continued to flourish under our present secretary, Mr John Roberts, who, together with his wife, has organised such highly successful fund-raisers that the band has managed to buy many new instruments. In latter years we owe a debt of gratitude to Charles Church Developments Limited for its generous sponsorship which has eased our financial burdens; but our own efforts also must continue to maintain standards.
The following figures may be of interest to you:-
- To equip a band with instruments: £2,500.00 (1960); £40,000.00 (1984)
- Collections – Christmas Carols: £123.81 (1961); £337.40 (1984)
- Rent for one evening: £0.37 1/2 (1960); £10.00 (1984)
- Engagement Fee: £10.00 (1963); £50-£80 (1984)
- Jumble Sale: £34.60 (1961); £100.00 (1983)
- Bandroom Raffle: £0.90 (1962); £7.00 (1984)
When the band started in 1960 we were fortunate enough to obtain some old music from the Fleet Town Band, which included a number of marches and items which suited the small combination of the band at that time.
The first item the band played was the hymn tune “Abide with Me” and this was followed by a march with the rather long and interesting title “The Captain of the Fire Brigade (introducing ‘The Driver of the 8.15’)”. This became very popular with the band during those early days. Another item was a one-step called “Let’s All Be a Happy Family” which could well have been an omen for the band’s future. Strangely enough, too, there was a march dedicated to the RMA called “Sandhurst” by J A Greenwood. RᎿ this time the band was also indebted to a Mr C E F Wood from Worthing who wrote out a lot of music for us (i.e. manuscript copies).
The first Christmas proved a great help to the content of the library for, after 15 nights of carol playing, the band had managed to collect a reasonable amount of money which enabled them to purchase some high standard brass band music, including selections from the musical comedies, Gilbert and Sullivan, ballads of the day and especially the ever popular music of Eric Ball.
Today the band’s library contains over one thousand items, including some of the great classical symphonies, overtures, suites, ballets and marches, besides innumerable solos for various instruments – music for all tastes.
Times have changed since the early days of the band and the concert repertoire of the brass band is considerably different, for a great number of eminent composers are flooding the market with contemporary music for brass bands in the modern idiom, both classical and, indeed, “Rock/Pop”!
We are keeping up with the times and present our audiences with a variety of music to suit all tastes from our library which must be the envy of many bands.
The band’s music is listed on computer so that the ‘print-out” can be used for the library index and can be constantly updated as new music is added.
Memories of a Founder Member
Finding myself now the oldest member of the band (75 years of age), I will confine my contribution to the old days. I wonder if a few unrehearsed “happenings” might be of interest?
At our first practice in 1960, when our membership totalled seven, we met at St Mary’s Hall, having obtained instruments from the defunct Fleet Band, after applying to buy them thanks to the then oldest member, Mr Bill Soane. How well I remember Mr George Clarke being given what we thought was an Eb Bass but after a very embarrassing performance of “Abide with Me” we discovered this to be an old single Bb Bass. After being given the proper part for this, we continued in harmony and “Abide with Me” regained its elegance. My own instrument, a rather dented euphonium, after the removal of some very obstinate slides and a couple of dead spiders, seemed to work pretty well.
Our first fund-raising effort, however, was a huge success. I believe the entrance fee was 3d. My wife made cakes which sold for 2d and Jennifer (now Mrs Cherry), who had much to do with organising this grand affair, put me in charge of what is known as “menswear”. I remember gents’ ties selling slowly at 6d; these I reduced to half-price and sold the lot.
Another memory, this one at Kingsclear Fete, when we were joined by St Sebastians Band for a massed bands concert. During the last item, Mr John Bird, then our principal trombone player, dropped his instrument, ran and jumped into a nearby lily-pond, fishing out a yelling toddler who had fallen in. After our cheering, he continued playing but, as the smell of stagnant water pervaded the area, we noticed that no-one was sitting very near our hero!
Then there was my own watery experience. One very cold winter night the band was holding a concert at the Civic Hall, Camberley. This had not long been built and I was not acquainted with its ‘landscaping”. It was a very dark night and, as I walked across to the brightly lit main entrance, what I thought was new shining paving was, in fact, a frozen-over lake. One slip onto this and, with a crash of broken ice, in I went and the bass I was carrying sunk! It’s not a deep lake, but quite deep enough at that temperature and, as I retrieved my instrument from its murky depths, I remembered our Bandmaster’s advice – “Make sure you blow any water out of your instrument before a performance” – normally a simple procedure but, on this occasion, more difficult, as it amounted to about 3 gallons, to say nothing of a few water-lily roots!
Yet another memory…… This occurred on the Band’s trip to France. We played at a palatial hall near Paris and posters for the concert indicated that we should be sharing the programme with lady dancers. We assumed, I think, that our performances would be separate items, but found ourselves all on stage together and, although it was a very big stage, with a full band and a large troupe of ladies attired in 18th century costumes complete with crinolines, it was, to say the least, thickly populated. The band did its bit then hurried to the wings as the ladies took the stage. On this occasion I was using the bass drum and, rushing to the wings, accidentally caught a lady’s bustle with it. This at once transferred her bustle from its proper place at her back to a rather undignified one in front! Whether she understood my stammered apology I shall never know, but I still hate to think what could have happened if our collision had been even more violent!
One cannot look back over 25 years without some serious thought and so, in closing, I pay tribute to four old members who have been called to a Higher Service. They are Bill Soane, Bob Bunton, Jim Haw and Ted Beck – all great Bandsmen and good friends.
Among those “still in business” it must be Happy Anniversary for Mr “Dave” Marson, our president, who has worked so hard for the band, and for Mr “Gerry” Hughes, our Bandmaster, who has brought us from our humble beginnings to the band we are today.
As the current oldest member, a position only ‘bestowed’ (I nearly said “inflicted”) on me by the passage of time, I would like to pay tribute finally to all the very young, the young and the ‘not so young’ – the boys and girls, mums and dads, fellow Bandsmen and Bandswomen who have, in so many ways, helped to build the Charles Church Camberley Band, of which Iam proud and happy to be a member.
As a founder member looking back over the last 25 years I am amazed at the tremendous amount of wonderful experiences that have been packed into those years. I was, for example, the first female to compete at the Solo Championship of Great Britain Contest at Oxford — my personal “blow” for the female sex. I have always been fortunate to be a solo horn player and together with Alan and David Beck and a number of changing 2nd Cornet players have been the privileged member of a quartet which has been the most consistently successful quartet in the whole of Southern England.
I have found that even on holidays we are blessed with the pleasures of brass bands. In 1968 whilst on holiday at Cousin Bob’s place in Canada with my husband Michael we were taken on a trip to Bus faloe, USA, and there had the pleasure of playing with a group of Hungarians. Then later to our delight we were introduced to Eric Ball who was visiting Danforth Salvation Army Citadel.
The following year brought us another surprise visit from Cousin Bob who entered our bandroom as we were rehearsing “American Sketches” by Eric Ball! Incidentally we won lith prize on it in the National Finals.
I have changed a little from those days, now having two keen children in the band and so to compensate I have changed my instrument to a slightly larger one – a baritone. In another 25 years time I might even be a bass player – I hope not as I am already exhausted carrying drum kits around!
…….. from the newspapers in the 1960s
The band now boasts 27 members…. Family links are very prominent……….
Among the top three bands of its class in the South – that’s the status the Camberley and District Silver Band won, along with a trophy and £7 money prize, at the area championships at London’s Seymour Hall.
The band now has a membership of 30 – 8 of them are women.
Camberley Silver Band has gone from strength to strength in the past 5 years, and its members are now the proud holders of 3 cups won in open competition at Hove.
….Band has just laid out £200 to keep up with current trends to convert all their instruments to standard pitch — no mean feat for on outfit which thrives purely on its own efforts.
….music is still a Cinderella subject in schools…. music can carry the day at Harvest Festivals, Carol Services, Open Days…. what a tremendous part it plays in people’s lives!
“The top band in its class” – …at the London and Southern Counties regional qualifying finals…. at Wembley. Playing the test piece “Petite Suite de Ballet”, the band – in competition with 11 others – scored 177 points out of a possible 200.
….just started special junior rehearsals for the youngsters who want to join the band.
As a result of its success this year in the fourth section of the National Brass Band Championships, the Camberley and District Silver Band has been regraded to third section.
The Banding Year
The banding year starts with a flurry of paperwork and a hectic rush to get players registered with the London and Home Counties and Southern Counties Brass Band Associations. Obtaining signatures from 95% of the members usually takes a couple of rehearsal nights but getting the remaining 5% out of their Christmas hibernation is quite a task. The situation is not helped by a certain percussionist who will insist on signing in the space reserved for second cornet players. His parents will never fully appreciate the trouble they have caused by giving their two offspring christian names which start with the same letter, but then he is the type who would cause me trouble if he had a unique name.
Over the years a number of innovations have been introduced, designed, I am assured, to streamline the system, but which always seem to end up giving band secretaries more paperwork. This year it is the need to provide signed passport photographs for each player registered nationally. If my experience of the varying quality of the do-it-yourself booth photographs is anything to go by, I may be on a winner in the blackmail stakes – the going rate this year is 50p for band funds or I’ll show them around!
With all the registration problems out of the way the next task is to sort out the Band’s entries for the Southern Counties Quartet and Ensemble Competition. This is an event at which the Band has a proud record over many years. Not only have prizes been won in all age sections and the ‘blue riband’ classes, but the support given to the competition has been second to none.
This contest has probably given more young players their first taste of competitive playing (and often of playing in public for the first time) than any other event. The strains of “Clouds and Sunshine”, “Golden Sands” and many other classic junior quartet pieces will remain as vivid memories of past successes and occasional disappointments. The atmosphere is great and it is a joy to see parents and non-players giving their encouragement and support.
With thoughts of competition in mind, early March comes round all too soon. Additional rehearsals are hurriedly arranged in preparation for the Area Contest at Watford. Gone are the days when we would compete agains 15 or so other bands and the whole process was over in half a day. Such has been the explosion in the number of entries in recent years that it now takes 3 full days of contesting to complete the programme for all sections. Entries in the Fourth and Third sections have soared and one of the big dreads is to have to report at some unearthly hour in the morning only to find that I have picked a late draw, as band number 30 or thereabouts.
Over recent years our participation in full band contests has been twice or three times per year. However, during this year we entered our first Entertainment Contest where programme content and deportment are assessed along with playing skills. This proved a most enjoyable experience with the Band not only putting up a good performance but also looking smart and disciplined. Disaster nearly struck but we were fortunate that the adjudicator was slightly colour blind and failed to notice that socks of a different shade were worn by that certain percussionist. Oh! he is a burden to me!!
In addition to band contests a small group of players compete in various local and Band Association solo competitions. This gives excellent experience (and ensures that they practise). There is a long history of outstanding successes and the band has produced local, regional and national prizewinners. Competition days are long and involve much travelling but all this is forgotten when players give good performances and enter into the spirit of the day. The support given by the group to those competing has been an outstanding feature and rarely has the Band’s name not been included in the prizes at the end of the day.
The main bulk of our public performances and engagement fees come during May, June and July with Fetes and Sunday park concerts. We see many friends year in year out and it is quite usual for these organisations to book the Band for the following year even before we have completed the engagement. Along with the regular fetes we have a sprinkling of first-timers with organisations who may be celebrating some anniversary or other. Despite immaculate planning a few manage to get the Band’s name wrong in their publicity and announcements. These have been a source of – amusement to members but the memory of the beautifully modulated voice of the announcer at one Annual Flower Show who thanked ‘Mr Charles Church and his Band’ will need some topping!
Reference to the Band’s contribution on behalf of charities and local organisations is made in another section of the magazine, but the Quality Fair, Annual Concert and the Carol Concert in the Civic Hall, Camberley, are high spots in a busy year which consistently sees the Band fulfilling some 25 engagements. Additionally, our annual carolling programme has not only been a source of great pleasure to the public but also provided the Band with many amusing anecdotes – usually at the expense of our loyal band of collectors.
In looking at the different types of engagements fulfilled over the years, we could truly qualify for the title of ‘Versatile Brass’. Each year seems to bring something new and it is very much to the credit of everyone that the Band is always prepared to have a go. Congratulations and keep up the good work!
The Spirit of Banding
Various reasons had meant a long lay-off from banding, but the time came when I felt I needed to get back to music making. On more than one occasion previously, George Clarke had suggested if I wanted a “blow” I ought to come to Camberley. Remembering this, I rang Gerry Hughes one summer evening and asked if there was any opportunity to join. I am pleased to say he invited me to come along so, in August 1976, I found myself playing Baritone once again.
My first impression of the band was the general friendliness; even accepting the fact that, apart from knowing George, I had made the acquaintance of one or two other members, everyone seemed to be more than pleasant. John Warner was the first to have a chat at the half-time break and I soon discovered that he came from Aylesbury; as I had lived near the capital of Buckinghamshire, he and I found something else in common as well as brass band music. That first mee ing with him has become a firm and valued friendship, underlining the rather special relationships that exist in the band.
It has to be said that my friendship with George still exists, despite the fact that I now sit next to him playing BBb Bass – that’s friendship indeed.
Just A Note
The door bell sounded – it was a January night. I opened the door and from out of the darkness came a disembodied voice, “I have a baritone here. Would you like to try it?” Into the light of the house stepped Mr Hughes.
“This is how you produce a note”, he volunteered. “With the tongue – like this – tphww!!” (Well, that’s how it sounded! ) “Try it”. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse! A few attempts and out came a terribly tortured note!!
Many tortured notes followed in a happy association with Camberley Band. Many happy experiences of learning the many facets of music-making. Many occasions of sharing in the life of the great fraternity, which is the Brass Band movement.
On the occasion of the band’s 25th anniversary, “Congratulations”. Long may you continue to produce that beautiful ‘ROUND SOUND”!
The Price of Banding!
In 1935, when I was 18, I wanted to play the trombone. At the time I couldn’t possibly afford the £5 to buy one. Someone suggested that, if I joined the Whit Lane Primitive Methodists, they would lend me a trombone. (Whit Lane is a district of Salford, Manchester). I explained my difficulty to the Bandmaster and he asked, “Have you got sixpence a week?” I had and he loaned me a trombone and a uniform – if I had had another sixpence a week he would have tried to teach me to play it!
Many years, and many bands, later I came to meet you and Mr Hughes’ first question to me was, “Have you got a shilling a week?” I expect that he too would have been glad to have tried to teach me to play it. It delighted me then (and now) that in 31 years the cost of joining a band had only doubled. There was a bad time whilst I played with you that I became unemployed and you pleased me no end with the comment, “We don’t take the shilling a week from the unemployed”. And you let me stay with the band for those difficult times.
Good luck to the Band for the future –
The Dunkley Duo
We both joined the band through the link from school – Linda Sandfield, then music teacher at Ravenscote Middle School, was a member of the band and Richard’s music teacher. Richard joined the band, followed 2 years later by Lisa, both playing horns. Although we have not been members for very long, we very much enjoy playing brass instruments, both with the full band and in quartet and solo contests.
During the course of the year, London and Home Counties Brass Band Association runs se veral competitions. These provide a chance to play duets as well as solos. As brother and sister, we enter these duets. This involves ‘studious’ practice at home – often finishing in an argument! However, we really enjoy it and have even attained a few successes.
Lisa and Richard Dunkley
A Beginner’s View (or Disaster on the London Road)
One Friday evening in 1975 I rather nervously took my son, Michael, to the British Legion Hall for his introduction to the Junior Band. During the next few months we attended practice evenings regularly, Michael to play and I to listen. I enjoyed listening and enjoyed the company of the other listeners.
One Friday evening, though, all this was to change. Mr Hughes spoke to me during the interval. “You can’t just sit and listen all the time. Would you like to play an instrument?” Now, for a person at my age, whose only experience of a musical education was confined to 6 years’ lessons on the pianoforte some 30 years previously, I had to swallow and think hard. “Yes”, I said eventually…. There was no indication at this time of the disaster that was to come.
Mr Hughes gave me a Tenor Horn and a Tutor, gave me a few basic lessons and I made a start in the band. After several weeks of sitting at No 9 on the Horn bench, I noticed that there was a severe shortage of Trombones. Taking my courage in both hands, I asked Mr Hughes of the possibility of changing my instrument for a Trombone. To my surprise he agreed and said that the conversion would be easy. I spent several weeks alternating between Tenor Horn and Trombone and eventually sat as 2nd Trombone.
The annual Remembrance Day parade duly arrived in the November and a choice had to be made. I had never marched and played an instrument at the same time. Was it to be the Tenor Horn or the Trombone? Mr Hughes was consulted. “Please yourself”, he said. Clever me decided it would be the Trombone. I put the cards into the lyre and we moved off from the car park. After only a few yards, I noticed that the lyre was somewhat loose and was moving from side to side. Panic? no – but Worry? yes! What could I do now that we were moving? Press on, I thought, nothing will go wrong. We moved into the London Road in Camberley, lined with great crowds of people as is normal for this occasion. Some three minutes later things started to go wrong. The lyre decided to somersault and tipped the cards onto the road – not the first time that this had happened to a bandsman, but my first time. I then made my big mistake. I stopped to pick the music up. Seconds later one Euphonium player, John Roberts, sidestepped past me saying “whoops”; the rest of the band passed by still playing. Then the panic really set in. On bending down, my hat had fallen off. Picking up one’s hat and music while holding a trombone with no slide lock is not easy; this would take some time. I tried to accomplish this feat only to find that the slide had fallen off the trombone. In the meantime, the regiment of marching army personnel had been brought to a halt behind me. I was now on my hands and knees retrieving my fallen possessions and looking for the nearest manhole to disappear into. There was no manhole so I gathered up all the debris and walked off to the side to take no further part in the parade. Head down and in total despair, I slipped away behind the crowd and made my way to the haven of my car. Those few seconds of complete disaster had seemed like a year.
I arrived home thinking I had let the band down so badly that I was sure to get the sack. But no, for typical of the members of this band, I received telephone call after telephone call, all sympathising and having a good laugh about the whole event.
I shall never forget that day – the day that I ‘impressed’ so many people. I have now been banding for nine years and in that time have made many friends. The education I have received, the enjoyment of the experience and of now being able to play a little bit has made it all worthwhile. May the band look forward to the next 25 years with good heart. Congratulations.
I started my banding in Fleet Band when I was about eight years old, and one of my earliest memories was that of being dressed up in band uniform and sent along to give a donation for an extension to Fleet Hospital. The recipient was the Duchess of Gloucester and I well remember that even my headmaster gave me sound advice on what to do, etc.
My grandfather was the bandmaster of Fleet Band and intended me to become a drummer, and, after weeks of practice on a stretched skin, I was allowed to play on a drum! I later went onto the cornet and my brother took over the drums. Unfortunately, he was paralysed down his right side from injuries sustained whilst on active service, so he then played a left-handed bass, which is still held by our band in Camberley.
I joined Camberley Band after the Christmas of 1960, playing cornet, then flugel and, later, the soprano cornet, enjoying many successes over the years. They have certainly been happy years and my only regret is that my work has interfered with my favourite hobby.
I will never forget the first fifteen nights of carolling when my two daughters, Penny and Wendy, started collecting for us. They were only fifteen years and eleven years old respectively then but continued to serve the band for many years. I enjoyed my carol playing but it wasn’t much fun getting up at 11.30am the next morning for the milk round.
My best memory is that of playing with two bands at the same contest in London – our band and Southend-on-Sea. They won first prize and we were second, so you can imagine the amount of stick that I had to put up with from the lads in the coach on the way home.
Ballet dancing is a far cry from the brass band world but it was from such an unlikely beginning that I came into the bandroom at St Michael’s, Yorktown, in May 1966. The link was Jennifer and her rendering on the horn of “Silver Threads Amongst The Gold” at a concert in Sandhurst Methodist Church one evening after ballet class. A quick nudge to my mum – “I’d like to play one of them” – and, by the end of the interval, Mr and Mrs Beck had arranged all the details.
The musty smell inside the instrument case on that first Friday evening remains a vivid memory as does the challenge of producing a clear note. Mr Hughes came to Sandhurst every Monday after school to teach me to play. I remember him saying, “A lot of people start to play and a lot soon give up but I think you’ll stick it”.
He was right. It may be because I want to carry on the banding tradition in my family, active in both drum and fife and brass bands; but I know, too, that I enjoy being part of a team which is happy to make music together. Besides, I’m sure I’ve always been destined more for marching up the High Street than pirouetting across the dance floor!
Many people have been through the band’s ranks since I’ve been a member. Times change, so does the music we play; but one thing I hope will never change – the pleasure we give and get out of music-making as members of the band of which we are a part. Long may it continue and long may we continue to enjoy it.
I remember well my first public engagement with the band – an open air service during Camberley Carnival. It was a proud and happy little tenor horn player who sat alongside Mr Soane in shoes polished specially for the occasion! The oldest member sat next to the youngest, helping each other along.
The brass band scene has doubtless changed over the past 25 years, influenced by television and inflation as is everything else. But some things never change and my hope for the next 25 years is that the family spirit on which this band was built will continue to be valued and promoted as the stable foundation on which our future rests.
Libby (E A Godden)
The Lure of Brass
I started my musical interest when I was ten in 1960. I was at first interested in the clarinet and had lessons on that for about 3 years. I enjoyed playing and it must have been in 1962 that I moved with my mother to Ash Wale from Sutton in Surrey. I had enjoyed at my previous school an active interest in music and was wondering what my new school would bring forth. It was at this school that I first met Mr Hughes. Mr. Hughes taught me music and algebra. I must say I was impressed with the music but not too much with the mysteries of this other subject (no reflection on the teacher). I hadn’t been at this institution for very long when I was asked in a very subtle way if I was interested in playing a brass instrument. I was impressed with the noises that the school band produced so was more than honoured to accept, so off I trundled with a B flat bass for the school holidays after a quick lesson from Mr Hughes on the techniques of playing and the fingering of the first octave. That was it, I rapidly lost interest in woodwind and fell in love with brass. My first contact with the Camberley Band was at a Quartet contest at Egham. The school had entered with about li quartets and there was a junior entry from Camberley Band. I must say I was very impressed with their performance, and they came first. It must have been in 1961/5 that I was asked by Mr Hughes if I would like to go along to a rehearsal on Friday night to the Camberley Band and, of course, it was an offer not to be refused. To me, a mere 11 year old, this was quite an experience. I’m sure Black Dyke Mills wouldn’t have sounded any better. I was by now playing Euphonium at school and at Camberley Band sat alongside Pauline on 2nd Bar 1 tone . I was very glad she kept on pointing out where we were especially in “Coriolanus” with its 2nd Baritone solo – 2 notes, but very important if you came in at the wrong place. That was the start of my first period with the band. I left about 1967 to join an Army band but that didn’t work out and shortly afterwards I moved to Bognor with my mum and started a career in electronics. At this point, desperate for a band to play in, I joined Portsmouth City Band and was there for about 2 years and as soon as I had learnt to drive wrote to Mr Hughes and asked if I could rejoin the Camberley Band, this time on Euphonium. Mr Hughes was very nice and said it was OK but as there was no spare instrument he would have to check with the committee and see about the purchase of another one. When that had been sorted out I rejoined as third Euphonium player. When it came to contests I was always put onto 1st Baritone which I must say I enjoyed as it gave me a part to myself, not just a supporting role.
The memorable activity in this time was playing quartets. I really enjoyed this mode as 1 t was you in the hot seat and there was no hiding behind other players. During this period I met Christine, my wife, and of course got her blowing ASAP and she soon became a dedicated convert.
Since late 1982 I haven’t been playing in a band but music still lives on. I do play in the church that I go to. We have about 700 members in our fellowship and some very gifted musicians. 99% of our music is by ear and in every key imaginable. I thought that I would never get the hang of playing without dots but have found that it comes naturally now (I still bloomer occasionally) but still keep up the practice the traditional way on both Euphonium and Flugel, that I also play. One amusing personal incident that comes to mind in 1978 was in the Worthing Band. I was late leaving for a concert in which I was playing a solo and would be standing up, floodlights and all. It was then that the solo cornet player pointed to my shoes. I had got one brown one on and one blue one. The show went on but I have never been so embarrassed!
Memories of Camberley Band
….The journey up there! We used to leave home as soon as Michael got home from work. We had sandwiches and a flask of soup in the car on the way and when we got to Camberley we were usually the first ones there!
….Carolling in December. I really enjoyed playing all the Christmas carols on frosty nights, despite cold feet even with extra socks – and wasn’t it difficult to play with gloves on!
….The trip to Sucy-en-Brie, especially when we missed the ferry home and had to wait hours in Dieppe for the next boat. I well remember the Sun setting and rising on the horizon.
….Contest days. The excitement and tension rising as we waited off stage for our turn to come. The feeling of unity when we were all playing to make one glorious and tuneful sound. There was always a great competitive feeling among all the bandsmen (and women) on these days which never turned sour regardless of the result.
Hitting the High Notes
I am now the soprano player in the band, but it may be news to some that I did in fact start on the cornet (and some say I should have stayed on it!).
Nine years ago I first picked up a brass instrument and, with the watchful eye of Mr Hughes upon me, I began to play. As time went on and my playing developed I found that I had one major problem – my range of notes didn’t reach further than ‘G’, so something had to be done!!
An opportunity arose when David Ruel left the band and the soprano seat was emptied… maybe this was the answer – to swap instrument. This is what I did and found that my lip was strengthened and my range increased.
To the question of “which instrument do I find the more difficult?” I will answer “the soprano”. Many would argue this fact, for every instrument is difficult in its own right; but if you take note of when the soprano is present in the brass band harmonies you will find that it is often featured in a prominent solo.
The tuning on a soprano cornet is also more delicate than a cornet and so a lot of concentrated effort is needed in order not to be the ONE playing out of tune.
One disadvantage of playing this instrument is the lack of accompanied solos (for solo contests). I seem to be doing a lot of transposing when the ‘solo’ season comes round each year!!
I have now been playing the soprano for four years, and I have served nine of the twenty-five years in this band, all of them interesting; and, without interest, there is no possibility of a Band ever ‘coming together’ – so here’s to the next twenty-five!!!
….. from the newspapers in the 1970s
The young members received a special word of praise from the president for their deportment and standard of marching during the town’s carnival and other outdoor events.
….band carried out over 20 engagements during 1970.
The golden notes of Camberley’s Silver Band are being heard farther and farther afield… Bath, when the band played at the University Folk Dance Society’s yearly one-day festival.
….at present as strong as it ever has been.
The 48 members of the band consist of 24 adults and 24 children.
At a special “blow-in” in Camberley town centre the band was starting off its fund-raising efforts to buy instruments for the 25 youngsters under 15 in its ranks.
Letter from a local resident: “….How good it was to see so many youngsters playing with the band under such expert tuition, and I feel sure many other citizens of Camberley will agree that the future of the band is safe in their hands”.
The annual “Quality Fair” organised by Camberley Silver Band raised just under £2,000 for 21 different organisations.
Letter from one of the charity representatives: “…thank the band for the tremendous effort they put into everything on this day for us all, and also the marvellous music they supplied throughout. Long may they continue as an excellent band and long may they continue to organise the Quality Fair”.
….band continues to thrive and now has a membership of 30 players, with a junior band of 33 players.
“JIM’LL FIX IT” – And he did!
Editor’s Note: In May 1978, a visit was arranged to Boosey and Hawkes in London, when band members had a rare opportunity to see brass instruments in the making. Regulations prevented the invitation being extended to junior members, and so….
I can even remember the day that I posted the letter for the “dream come true” programme, “Jim” 11 Fix It” ! I’d been desperately trying to think of an unusual wish – the only type the programme seemed interested in – but I also wanted the idea to be linked with something that I was sincerely interested in.
Then I remembered a band trip to Boosey and Hawkes that I was not allowed to be included in; it would be a very topical wish to have my own special visit, as the band had just bought four brand new basses. It was perfect.
I’d be doing something unusual (how many times had the production of a bass been televised?), I’d be allowed to see something I had otherwise missed and it would also mean a bit of a boast with my friends if I could get on the T.V.!!!
After posting the letter, I spent a whole week running down to every mail delivery, but absolutely nothing arrived. Just as any other impatient 12 year old would react, I decided to forget the whole idea and make sure I didn’t let it slip out that I might have given Jacqueline Beck, Robert Cherry, Julie Beck and myself the opportunity to be 5-minute T.V. stars!
Eventually, a letter did arrive. I quickly ripped it open and read the words, “We are very interested in your wish, and would like to include it in one of our programmes”. I just couldn’t believe it!
This was the beginning for the “Famous Four” and their small part of stardom, viewed by millions of children, all dying to be in our positions.
(So far, Clair Roberts had arranged for Jim to fix it. Robert Cherry takes up the story of events in 1980/81….)
The night before the trip was due to take place, we were put up in the Coburg Hotel in London, at the expense of the B.B.C. At 9 o’clock the next morning, two taxis were waiting outside the hotel to take us to the Boosey and Hawkes factory. On arriving, we had a cup of tea, and then the filming began.
After a small sequence outside, we went inside and had to play some very strange instruments – old instruments which are not played very much now. Filming took time and, at times, was annoying as the same bit was done over and over again. Some of the time we didn’t see what we wanted to see because we had to concentrate on the filming. We saw just as much moving from one place to another! but it was still very interesting. A break was taken for lunch, laid on by Boosey and Hawkes; not a long break, and soon we were filming again.
Everyone had heard of our visit and all were expecting Jimmy Savile to be there. They were to be disappointed as he only does the part in the studio. Filming continued, some parts being completed quickly, others taking longer. A further 15-minute break was taken before filming was completed. We had seen and filmed all the stages of making a Double Bo Bass. So the day ended – time to go home and wait until the day for going to the Studio arrived.
This was to be six months later. We had to be there at 2 o’clock so that we could have a practice. We were told and we practised exactly what we would have to do in front of the cameras that evening, though we did not see the badges. We were to be the first on the show and at 6.30pm the recording began. The title sequence was run and then our film. While this was on, we walked from the beanbags to sit in front of the cameras. Our film lasted about ten minutes and then we were ‘on’. Our badges were presented and a ticket to a concert in the Royal Albert Hall was given to us as well. Our bit was finished.
Those few minutes and it was all over. But it was certainly enjoyable and interesting and a chance we wouldn’t have liked to have missed.
All in the Family
It was bound to come – what with mum, dad and Robert in the band, I was bound to follow on. I always said I would play a trombone but I started off on the cornet at 9 years old and have continued with it. It has been great fun.
Once, during the Aldershot Bus Centenary Year (1983) we played on the top of an open-topped bus. We had rather a jerky start and some of us could hardly play for laughing, especially when we went under a bridge and the sounds became howling distortions.
Another happy memory for me was Jimmy Savile’s first visit to the bandroom. It was lovely. I was one of those who volunteered to conduct the band and they fooled about bouncing up and down and larking about . I didn’t know it was planned and I felt quite put out.
Then there was that exciting bit of news that I was going to play at my first contest. It was at Reading and when we got there a photographer took a picture of the band and it later appeared in the local newspaper. Then we set ourselves up on stage to play that lovely piece, “The Plantagenets”, as our test piece. I felt quite nervous because it was my first contest and you can guess what number we were drawn – yes, you’re right, number one. At the end, I felt quite pleased and thought I played quf te well.
These are only some of the exciting moments I’ve had and enjoyed with the band.
A Percussionist’s Eye View
From a very early age all I wanted to do was to play the drums. Little did I know of what to expect in the years ahead.
It all began when I heard Mr Haw play the whistle; yes, that famous whistle in the piece “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines”. I haven’t been able to master it yet which, I must point out, is no fault of my own – the whistle is faulty! Anyway, after hearing that whistle, all I wanted to be was a percussionist.
After becoming a member of the senior band, I began to learn the most skilled art of all – Stick Dropping. Now this is not as easy as it seems. The correct moment must be chosen. Well, you do it like this. A quiet piece in the music arrives and then you unclasp your fingers from around the stick so that it falls to the ground making a large clatter!
After a while in the band, drumming did not seem such a good idea after all. The famous word which kept appearing on my music was ‘TACET’. Time and time again. Whatever could it mean? The reason was soon discovered. For many years, percussion was not allowed in competitions so new pieces being written did not include a drum part. It is only more recently that percussion has been given more interesting parts to play.
While on the subject of “tacet”, there is a fellow colleague of mine in the band who has been a cause of concern to me for a very long time. The trouble is that he is much older and larger than me and doesn’t appreciate the implications of the word, implied but not expressed, and on that note I’ll finish!
A Wet Welcome
My first engagement with the band was Camberley annual Carnival Procession on a summer weekday evening in 1973. I remember it very well as we had the heaviest shower of rain in the whole of my banding career!
Since then, playing with the band has been a most enjoyable part of my life… long may it remain so.
(The band struck up with a march to cheer the spirits of the drenched participants and onlookers waiting for the procession to begin. By the end of the evening we had marched ourselves dry but our uniforms never quite recovered – shrinking in reaction to the rain! ! – Ed.)
Little did I think!
Little did I think, when my uncle presented me with my first trumpet which he picked up in an antique shop in South Wales, that I would get so much enjoyment out of music. I started playing about 11 years ago just before the Roberts clan invaded Crowthorne. Without knowing that Dad used to play euphonium when he was younger, I came home from school one day and announced that I had signed up for trumpet lessons. Then, when we moved house, Mr Hughes took me under his wing and soon afterwards I joined the training band. It wasn’t long before Dad was playing again after an 18 year rest and Mum suddenly became what is commonly known as a “brass band widow”. Not to be outdone, Clair, my sister, came into the lounge one evening with my cornet and, to our amazement, played a tune that she had taught herself on a couple of previous secret sessions. This was the beginning of music in the Roberts household – it was also the beginning of many arguments regarding when, where, how often and for how long to practise.
It took more than nagging to open all the doors that lay ahead of me and I have Mr Hughes to thank for that. It was he who taught me everything and for that I am very grateful. We are very fortunate to have one of the best teachers around.
As well as playing with the Charles Church Camberley Band I have enjoyed being a member of the National Youth Brass Band of GB (NYBB) and I would recommend trying to join NYBB to any young player – not only because of the chance of playing difficult music under different conductors but because of the opportunity of making new friends in the Brass Band world. If you speak to any member, past or present, I am sure that they will all say the same thing ….. that they are counting the days until the next NYBB course and that time is passing really slowly When you start looking forward to something as much as this, you have reached the stage when you no longer need to be nagged into practising, so this is when the real improvements begin in your playing.
Soon after my time with NYBB I managed to get into the Young Ambassadors Brass Band of GB (YABB) and that was when the fun and travelling really began. I am an established member of the back row cornets now, usually on repiano. When I list the bands in which most of the members play when YABB are not on tour it may give some indication of the general standard.
In the last concert the line-up included Black Dyke Mills, Desford Dowty, Brighouse and Rastrick, GUS, Yorkshire Imps and Charles Church Camberley Band I | The only catch is that YABB as a band does not practise in between tours and, on more than one occasion, we have had to perform a concert of unfamiliar music on the first day of a tour, at sight! ! This happened on my first ever tour with the band and I can definitely say that I have never had such a nerve-racking experience since, The band has taken me all over Europe including Belgium, Holland and Germany but the highlight so far was last year’s 3 week tour of USA and Canada during which we performed 19 concerts. There wasn’t much I didn’t manage to do … … I flew over Niagara falls in a helicopter, climbed up the Empire State Building, walked around the White House, went water skiing (the boat won 1 ) and have never been to so many parties and had so little sleep in such a short space of time. Accommodation on these tours usually entails pairing off with someone in the band and going to stay with a local family for the night. On a tour like USA we got through about 15 families each Together with meeting a fair number of hosts one gets to sleep on a large variety of beds . . . . . I’ve now slept on everything from a kingsized waterbed to a one man caravan in the back garden! !
Although I am away from the area I do enjoy playing with Camberley Band whenever I am home at the weekends and am always very grateful for an extra lesson from Mr Hughes.
His Lady Played the Bugle
It is those special incidents which make for happy memories and over a quarter of a century there are many.
The problem with the Camberley Band is that a friend of mine married one of them, he went even further, he wed the band and has spent much of the time ever since telling me about it. Over the years I have made a few notes which may be of some interest.
Mike married Jenny, who fell into that happy band of young ladies who were once described as ‘always large, nice to look at and very good dancers’. Jennifer, however, is a little different because she blows a bugle, the smallest of the big jobs with three things you push up and down.
His introduction to the band took place out in the eastern suburbs of London, they called it quartets and according to Mike it was held in a very large and extremely cold hall and the music was indescribable.
Several years went by and quartets became a habit. Mike only remembers a few details of his wedding. The rain and all the band soaking wet and looking like drowned rats. He has no recollections of the music they played but he does remember Johnny with his large umbrella who kept them both dry and got in all the pictures. Shortly afterwards he was given a bugle, his description. Actually it was a rather splendid trumpet which eventually got shrunk down to cornet size.
There were two of them, Mike and another fellow called Ray. They made the grade on thirty third cornet because you cannot go any lower. Many times they have described the traumas of going contesting. Because neither could play the pieces very well the musical director used to cut most of it out with a red pencil only to have someone come in like a machine gun on the day when all was quiet. On one occasion the thirty thirds had to play it all, no red pencil this time and the conductor cannot believe the tricks his ears are playing on him. At this point the proceedings take on a familiar pattern. We won’t have the basses, cut out the trombones, gradually working round to the cornets. Ray and Mike look at each other, ‘hear it comes, us again’. Then comes the worst insult of all, the bandmaster picks up the music in disbelief. Heavens above, they have got it right; but it is no good because the situation deteriorates even further. The band is rearranged and they sit in disgrace in front of the Euphoniums with the baton being waved at their noses.
Mike never did take to contesting but there are a few things which he likes. Best of all, he says, is the marching because the band practises in the woods behind Yorktown school, all forty of them. On one occasion a young man called John counter-marched and the two bells of their cornets tried to knock each other’s teeth out. Just about the only time he made the bandmaster laugh.
John was a member of the champion quartet, never lower than third place for more than ten years. Southern Counties and London and Home Counties Champions in the same year. Unfortunately he forgot to turn up, exit John and his beautiful sound. It was to take another ten years before they were champions again.
It was, however, the quartet which prompted the idea that the band should play for some dances at Bath University. Marvellous music except for Swedish Masquerade.
Marching according to Mike is always good for a laugh. He says Armistice Day is special, like the day when the officers of the cadet corps had a glorious row. Everyone laughed so the whole band was in a good mood when they got going. This particular occasion turned out to be the day of the trombone. He dropped his music, ‘twice’, then he disappeared. Apparently on the second retrieval his hat fell off and he fell over, the trombone came to pieces. It sounds like a Giles cartoon but Mike assures me it is true.
Eventually promotion came along, second cornet first and on to bass. The tuba is a must for marching, always good for a few bob chucked down the bell of the instrument which helps to buy a pint afterwards.
Occasionally the band meets famous conductors. In Chilchester the eminent gentleman having tuned the band turned to the few onlookers for approval. Seeing all the knitting which was going on he signalled to Mike who roared with laughter. Quick as a flash he was facing the band and the ladies were mad, because they had missed the joke.
The highest pinnacle of all in the marching band has been given to Mike. I have not seen this extraordinary vision but he tells me that he bangs the big drum. This apparently is even more fun because you can yell at your mates as you go by and look at the reflection of yourself in the windows of the big office blocks.
Over the years, more than twenty, I have made notes about Jenny, Mike and their band. Recently he brought me up-to-date. They all turned up to a park concert, no audience and no chairs, all in the wrong park. Banding is fun, the music is good and the people are nice. As for eccentric Mike, I know of no other who can dance on a drum one day and bang it in a carnival the next.
Finally, there are moments of great satisfaction. From Yorkshire comes a famous band. The conductor’s baton is raised for the finale, someone puts a note in and the bandmaster must start again. Mike and his young son look at each other, gleefully.
….. from the newspapers in the 1980s
….the players found wind for 100 tunes, one after the other without a break. At the end of their marathon sponsored blow they all had tired lips but the band was over £500 better off.
….celebrates its 20th anniversary this month ….Over the last two years, the band has been raising funds to purchase new instruments.
….band and choir performed a concert in Camberley Civic Hall in aid of the families of the Royal Green Jackets band bomb tragedy ….A cheque for £280 was received by its M. D. Capt. Roger Swift …. complimented members of the Camberley Band on their standard.
…Charles Church’s company’s sponsonship of the band, it is to be renamed the Charles Church Camberley Band.
….concert given by Charles Church Camberley Band ….a cheque for £200 was donated to Frimley Park Hospital funds.
….concert in aid of Guide Dogs for the Blind raised £1100.
NEWS OF FORMER MEMBERS
Over 25 years, the band has seen many changes of membership and, both in looking back and in thinking to the future, it is good to remember those who have been involved with us in our band at Camberley. Many former members retain their links through family and friends; others we have sadly lost touch with; but here we remember them all and are especially happy to include contributions from those we have made contact with recently.
Vi Beck: 2nd Cornet, (1961-82). Wi retired from the band in 1982 and was elected a Vice President in recognition of years of dedicated service.
Ray Bevins: 2nd Cornet, (1965–74). Ray played with Ellesborough Silver until January 1985 but has now stopped playing.
Edna Bird: 2nd Trombone, (1961-69 approx). Edna currently plays 1st Baritone with Sandhurst Silver Band. Her father, Reginald Bird, was also a member of Camberley and District Silver Band (1961-67 approx) and played 1st Baritone. Edna wishes the Charles Church Camberley Band every success for the future.
Ron Chalcraft: Eb Bass, (1967-79). Ron retired as a regular playing member but sometimes joins us on the march, banging the big bass drum. He remains a supporter and is a Vice President of the band.
Colin Exley: Trombone, (197l-76). Colin settled in Bristol in 1977 and, after playing and conducting locally, is now out of brass bands. He joined an orchestra on its formation in 1980 and became its Business Manager. The orchestra is ambitious and already well known in the South-West and South Wales. Colin writes, “As a trombone player in the orchestra, I am always very grateful to the Camberley Band because that is where I learnt to play the instrument. The first 25 years have been both eventful and successful. I hope this continues for the next 25 and the band goes from strength to strength”.
W.E.H. (Chuck) Gillman: Drummer, (1965–72). Chuck has not played since leaving the band for health reasons, apart from being happy to help us out on several occasions, all of which were a great joy and pleasure to him. He and his wife “congratulate the band on reaching its 25th anniversary and also for the wonderful performances and pleasure it has given to the public in this and the surrounding districts since its formation, under the leadership of its splendid Bandmaster, Mr Hughes”.
Tony Head: 3rd/2nd/Repiano and Solo Cornet, (1966–1983). Since his move in 1983, Tony has been involved in training at the Isle of Wight Sea Cadet Band. His father, Stan, continues the family involvement by being our mace bearer at carnival processions and the Armistice Parades.
Harry Hines: 3rd cornet/Euphonium/Eb Bass, (1961–69). Although still living locally, Harry is not currently active in banding.
Ted Landels: Eb Bass, (1960–1965). Ted now lives in Worthing. Although he is not involved in banding at present, he has attended some of our recent concerts at the Civic Hall.
Christine and Michael Levett: 2nd Baritone and Euphonium (1961 – 1972 with breaks). Now living near Arundel, neither is now playing in a brass band but they still enjoy music and now have their own family quartet to carry on the banding tradition. Michael writes, “The Camberley Band is the best band that I have been in, not because of its exceptional playing abilities, but because I always felt part of the team and welcome. Many thanks for the very happy times at fetes, donkey derbies, contests, concerts, etc, that I have enjoyed with you.”
David Ludgate: Cornet/Flugel Horn, (1961–1977). David is no longer involved in brass bands. In 1980 he took up morris dancing with Pilgrim Morris from Guildford, during which time he learnt to play the melodeon and accompanied Mayflower Ladies Morris. He writes, “My musical interest now lies with the melodeon and country dance music. However, my trumpet lies in wait, in the dust under the bed, for the days when my jazz interest returns to the fore”. David was elected a Vice President of the band in recognition of his years of service.
Michael Moss: 2nd Baritone/2nd Euphonium, (1970–75). Michael is now playing Solo Euphonium with Farnborough Brass.
Susan Moss: 3rd Cornet – 2nd Principal Cornet, (1970–78). From 1979-81, while at Cambridge University, Susan played 3rd/4th trumpet in the “De Blah De Blah Jazz Orchestra”. She now plays Solo Cornet (part-time!) with Farnborough Brass.
Pauline Noble (née Marson): Tenor Horn/2nd Baritone/2nd Cornet, (1961–69). Pauline has not played recently but her 11 year old daughter, Dawn, is about to take her Grade 8 on Cornet and plays 1st Cornet for the Aylesbury Music Senior Brass Band.
Gillian Parratt (née Beck): Tenor Horn, (1961-70). Gill is no longer involved in banding, but she writes, “I felt that the band made a large contribution to my being able to make friends easily and to mix with all age groups. It was nice to have a hobby that all the family could enjoy”. Gill sends her best wishes to the band and all who remember her.
David Poston: Cornet, (foundation – 1961). David is no longer playing but remains an enthusiastic follower of the band and enjoys the occasions when he can hear the band play and meet old friends. He sends his “Congratulations to the Band on its ’25th’ and best wishes for the future. I am sure your celebrations will be an enjoyable success.”
Derek Purslow: Repiano Cornet, (1978–85). A former member of the R.M. A. Band, Derek is now playing Clarinet/Cornet with the Bagshot Band.
Rodney Spence: 1st Baritone, (1973–81). Rodney now plays 2nd Euphonium with Farnborough Brass, which he joined in September 1983. He was elected to the committee and now serves the band as Public Relations Officer. He writes, “Like many brass players, I started playing in the Salvation Army, at 11, and played for about 5 years in the Aldershot Corps. After leaving, I went to Aldershot Brass Ensemble for 6 years and, after a 2-year break, joined Camberley and District Silver Band. I have gained a lot of experience over the years under the various conductors, to whom I am very grateful, and I now enjoy writing music for the ‘Brass Band’.
Brian Thorn: Euphonium, (foundation – approx 1965). Now living in North Wales, Brian recently surprised us all by unexpectedly dropping in to listen to a Friday evening rehearsal and renew old friendships.
Michael Venner: Bass Trombone, (1969–78 approx). Michael has not been involved with brass bands since 1978. His musical activity now revolves around the violin – playing fiddle for the local Morris Side and chamber music in a local string quartet – which has become his retirement activity.
Maurice Wilks: Tenor Trombone, (1968–77). Maurice still lives locally, but is no longer involved in banding. However, his interest remains and we often see him at our Civic Hall concerts.
In March 1984, members of the band played at the marriage ceremony of Jacqueline Winter and David Ruel, both playing members at Camberley Band when they met. Following this very happy occasion, they left to live in Singapore, where David had been working and was already active in a local band. Since receiving their report, we have been glad to welcome them back ‘ home’ and to have them both rejoin our ranks.
The Singapore Experience
2.30 pm on Sundays at the St John Ambulance Brigade H.Q., Beach Road, Singapore, saw the weekly gathering of between 6 and 17 (unfortunately all too often 6!) members of the St John Ambulance Brigade Band Singapore.
The band had originally been a Brass and Reed Band and in its prime had undertaken many public performances as well as a tour of Malaysia. Alas only one Band had survived five other St John Bands in Singapore, and really it had degenerated to the position where it met only two or three times a year to rehearse for and perform at the Annual St John Ambulance Day Parade.
My first engagement with the band was, indeed, the Annual Parade, in September 1983, after I had been introduced to the band by a Singapore doctor friend and visited at home by two members of the band eager to resurrect it to its former status. The first question of course was Brass and Reed or Brass Band? A meeting was held where the majority of those present were brass players – the question was answered!
Instruments were not at a loss, and the band room adjacent to the hall in which the band rehearsed (approximately as large as the Civic Hall, Camberley) housed numerous instruments, albeit many in need of a good clean! Music was a minor problem, in that the library consisted of few brass band arrangements, but gradually more and more pieces were acquired thanks to associations with both Camberley and Yiewsley Bands. The band did receive an annual budget from the St John Ambulance Brigade and with this we were able to buy new music and instruments as needed.
Jackie and I aside, all other members of the band were Singaporean Chinese. Luckily they could all speak English – although more often than not what we had said was relayed to the other members of the band in Chinese by the band secretary.
A number of engagements were undertaken in addition to the Annual Parade and at times we felt quite at home playing for an afternoon garden party – we could have been in England 1 Christmas 1984 saw the band playing at a church carol concert – quite interesting for us as only the first verse of the first carol was sung in English – the rest of the concert in Chinese.
A Chinese Father Christmas and a Chinese rendition of “Jingle Bells” has to be both seen and heard? In addition, the band played at the Social Services Centre and played carols at the Pavilion Intercontinental Hotel. For these engagements we numbered 12 and produced a well balanced sound.
The technical/theoretical ability of the St John Band members was first class and all had obviously enjoyed excellent tuition in their school bands. Unfortunately, however, all too often the tonal quality suffered from what appeared to be an inherent nature to bang/play as loud as possible to drive/blow away any evil spirits present.
At the September 1983 Annual Parade I had played cornet in the band but with the approach of September 1981 came the rapid rise through the ranks from private to major! – a rank considered by the Chief Commissioner more befitting the conductor. (Jackie who joined me in Singapore in March 1981 remained a private!!)
During our last few months with the band we did have a number of visitors from Camberley: Ron and Kay Winter, Alan Beck and Nigel Winter. Both Alan and Nigel played with us and in fact Nigel was present for our last rehearsal with the band which followed a luncheon hosted by the Chief Commissioner (who was also Band president) where we were presented with commemorative medals by the Singapore St John Ambulance Brigade.
Whilst glad to be home we would have liked to have been present at this year’s Annual Parade – but we do have happy memories of banding in Singapore and of friendships made.
If not our lives, St John did save our sanity, in allowing us to continue enjoying our banding which provided much needed relaxation as well as perhaps just a little piece of home!
David & Jacqueline Ruel
With the passage of time, we have been saddened by the deaths of four of our members, all dedicated bandsmen committed to the band. This is a tribute to them:
Bob Bunton started his career in banding at 7 years old with the famous Blackhall Colliery Band and later played with the R. A.M. C. Band subsequently leaving for India where he was commissioned. After leaving the forces he joined the Civil Service and eventually played with Epping Forest Band. From 1964–68 he was a very capable top cornet player of our band and a short while before his death achieved a life-time ambition when he became our deputy conductor. He was an outstanding bandsman who will always be remembered for his intense love of banding and its music. His death was a shock to us all and a set back for the bandsmen who had lost a dedicated friend.
Bill Soane spent many years of his life in Fleet Band and when it was disbanded he became a member of Sandhurst Band cycling back and fore to rehearsals. Later he became a founder member of Camberley Band and suggested that I wrote to the Fleet Band trustees offering to buy their instruments – a move which proved to be very beneficial for us.
He was a much respected senior member of our band with a deep love of banding and was greatly missed when forced to retire after having a stroke. He lived many years after that but missed his banding more than words could tell; but thanks to his wonderful supportive wife he was able to enjoy his second love of which he was an expert – gardening.
Jim Haw started his musical career as a band boy in the South Wales Borderers and eventually became a Sergeant—Major in the R.A.O.C. During a period of service in the Middle East he became the welter-weight boxing champion but during the war he was captured by the Japanese and became a prisoner of war.
He joined us in 1968 after a lapse of about 20 years from a brass instrument but he soon showed himself to be a very capable and sensitive euphonium player. After a setback in his health in later years he became our very competent percussionist who was always full of enthusiasm. He was a sensitive man and very dedicated to music – his untimely death was a sad blow to us all.
Ted Beck will always be remembered for the many years of dedicated and loyal service he gave to our band during the time that he was our secretary. He came to us in January 1961 with his wife, Vi, and three children – Alan, David and Gillian – and as they were all “learners” it gave me great pleasure to go weekly to their home and give them individual les sons (quite a marathon!). Ted was given a bass and it is to his credit that he developed a good, deep, rich sound and became a real asset to the band.
I cannot speak too highly of his (and his wife’s and family’s) service to the band for, together, we went forward through some golden years of banding. It was sad that illness struck him on the eve of his retirement from work but he will always live on in the memories of those of us who were fortunate enough to enjoy his comradeship and support for over twenty years. The last few words of his retiring speech tell it all:-
To the Band
“Enough said for now, I wish the band well
More enthusiasm, more prizes? – one can never tell!
I’ve enjoyed being Hon. Sec. and words cannot measure
The joy of being with you – t’ was always a pleasure”.
The pleasure, dear Ted, is not at an end
For Bob, Bill and Jim and you, dear friend,
Gave strength to the band that will always live on
When all its weaknesses will be long gone.
The Band in the Community
I cannot think of a nicer way of enjoying oneself than to enthusiastically follow a hobby and raise much needed funds for the less fortunate at the same time. This has been the corner stone of the Band’s activities ever since it started and there will be few, if any, local organisations which can match such a record of achievement and consistency over 25 years.
There have been so many ways then in which Band has contributed to the work of charities and local organisations and to the well-being and quality of life of the community in general. It is much to their credit that Band members have so readily agreed to help with concerts, sponsored walks, town centre collections, carolling and some quite novel events – who will forget playing to the publican who spent 21, hours up a tree!
Each effort brings something new but the one event which is uppermost is our contribution in the annual Quality Fair. It has raised thousands of pounds over the years. Our President’s foresight 15 years ago has set the scene for so many others to copy. Organisations combine under one roof to raise much needed funds and all enjoy themselves in the process. The event is totally organised by the Band who also help things to go with a musical swing throughout the day.
Successive Mayors and Mayoresses of Surrey Heath have given every support and we have been fortunate to get the help of Jimmy Saville – the Prince of fund-raisers and Special Friend of the Band. The relationship with Jimmy is close and warm and because of this association the Band has become expert at playing for Sponsored Walks and other energetic events. It was not always thus and who will forget our first effort at Basingstoke Hospital when he ‘conned’ band members into doing a lap of the course with him – some have never been the same since. Our contribution for other hospitals – Frimley Park, Brookwood and Broadmoor – are well known and our annual Autumn concert in aid of nominated Appeals has become something special.
It is often said that the more you put into life the more you get out of it and it is possibly for this reason that our Band has remained a ‘family’ throughout its history. Long may it continue.
J R Roberts
As Camberley and District Silver Band, we were involved in the Town Twinning ceremonies and celebrations with Camberley’s two twin towns — Sucy-en-Brie in France and Bietigheim in West Germany.
In 1970, several members attended the official celebrations at Sucy and, in April 1979, the band (then Camberley Silver Band) provided the music for the ceremony marking 10 years of successful partnership.
In 1971, our Bandmaster and Treasurer, together with their wives, represented the band at the official town twinning celebrations in Bietigheim.
The band hosted a visit from musicians from our German twin town in 1981, and again was represented by two members at further celebrations in Bietigheim later that year.
The band in 1985 is arranging a visit to Bietigheim at Easter 1986 following the very happy and successful experience of their band’s visit last year.
7am Friday, 18th September, 1970: Highly polished instruments sparkled in the bright sunshine. Excitement was in the air. This was the Day – off to Sucy – Town Twinning!!
By coach through Surrey/Sussex countryside to Newhaven, and bad sailors were grateful that the sea was “calm as a mill pond”. “Engines Ahead” for Dieppe!
Our coach bumped on to French soil and all was well, until our driver suddenly announced, “This is my first time of driving on the Continent”. A sudden rush of volunteers – “We’ll look out for oncoming traffic – don’t worry!”
But it was the roadway system around the Paris environs that brought worried glances. It’s his first time. We had heard about French drivers, too. Let it be known that, having regard to all the circumstances, our driver deserved a Le Mans accolade.
21.00 hours: and we were safely in the Cultural Centre at Sucy. A tremendous welcome – this was Le Jumelage – the Partnership. Tired travellers, ident if led by name tags, were introduced to charming hosts and hostesses, and hustled away through the Sucy streets to experience a weekend of wonderful friendship and great hospitality.
Jean Fischer, Secretary-General of Sucy-en-Brie, wrote of ideals of Jumelage, of Europe, and of hopes for world peace: “In order to make Europe, it is necessary that Europeans know themselves and , their real faces . . . . . this knowledge does not yet exist. To acquire it, one must have lived with other Europeans, shared their worries and pursued the same efforts”. 39 hours in Sucy presented opportunities for a beginning.
Saturday: Breakfast – conversation – walking in the garden – sharing life and experience. ‘Pidgin’ English mingled with its French counterpart. When that failed, pencilled sketches continued the conversation.
11.00 hours: To the Town Hall for the official ceremonies of Town Twinning. National Anthems were played by Camberley Silver Band and the Principal Music of the Marine Troops, Paris, then it was on to the Banquet Hall for a civic banquet – a memorable feast shared with our hosts and civic leaders.
15.00 hours: Visit to Paris – the Eiffel Tower, Cathedral of Notre Dame, banks of the River Seine and more. ‘Home’ for dinner and then on to the “Evening Show”—”Presentation of the SILVER ORCHESTRA and the OPERATIC of Camberley and dancing by Janine Solane Company”. (No prizes for naming the Silver Orchestra!)
23.00 hours: Fireworks at the Town Hall Esplanade to end the day of celebration. It had been sunshine all the way.
Sunday, 12.00 hours: “Au revoir – Goodbye” – flowers and flags. Then engine trouble at Rouen and we were too late for the ferry, having to wait till midnight. Frantic ‘phonings to Camberley! but time to see Dieppe. I bought some Camembert – soft, rich, Normandy cheese.
The ferry sailed into the night. I joined friends in the Saloon. I have a sensitive nose. “Someone has hot feet”, I deduced, tactfully excused myself and returned to the Boat Deck to take the sea air.
In best nautical fashion, I thrust a hand into blazer pocket. A round package!?? Realisation – voilà – Le Camembert!! and so ‘ot. I found a plastic bag, slipped the by now very soft rich cheese into it and knotted the top, tightly. I returned to the Saloon and rejoined the conversation. “Where have you been?” There was no escape from my questioner. I gently explained about the Camembert, soft and rich. “And I thought, you see”, I stammered, “that someone had hot feet”. “Oh!” they cried in unison, “we noticed that smell, too, but when you went upstairs it quickly disappeared. We thought it was your feet!!” (Collapse of Thin Party!)
The Sucy visit remains a vivid memory – its ideals still valid. “Vive Le Jumelage!” – Long Live the Partnership!
(Publicity Officer, 1968–73)
Visit to Camberley of Bietigheim-Bissingen Accordian Band
In April 1984, the band hosted an enthusiastic visit from the Bietigheim-Bissingen Musikschule’s Accordian Band – 30 young German musicians visiting England for the first time.
Members spent four very happy days as guests of members and supporters of our band. Besides visiting London and Windsor and attending a civic function hosted by the Mayor of Surrey Heath, the highlight of their visit was the Sunday evening concert which featured both bands on 29th April. This was followed by a social evening on the Monday, which showed the young German visitors to be as proficient on the dance floor as they were at the accordian keys!
In every way, it was an enjoyable and worthwhile venture – one which our German friends are very keen to reciprocate.
Visit to Bettigheim Easter 1986
We are all looking forward to our band’s first visit to Bietigheim during the Easter weekend 1986. This is our first official visit abroad as a band since our highly successful visit to Sucy-en-Brie in 1970.
We will be leaving Camberley on Thursday, 27th March in the even Ing to catch the overnight ferry to Calais. The journey will continue through Belgium and into Germany arriving at Bietigheim late Friday afternoon. Our return journey will depart from Bietigheim early Tuesday morning and we will arrive back in Camberley in the early hours of Wednesday morning, 2nd April.
The programme of events is still to be finalised but will include concerts by the band.
Not Without Support
We cannot celebrate 25 years of successful banding without mentioning those members of our families and friends who have given support, both financial and practical, over the years. Fund-raising, through Jumble Sales, Bazaars and Fetes, sales of plants and Christmas goods, and other ingenious methods, is a very necessary facet of our activities as a band and we owe a debt of gratitude probably to more people than we are aware of – wives, husbands, parents, children, wider relations, friends – who have always been willing to give a supporting hand, be it house-to-house collecting during the Christmas Carol playing season, manning stalls, selling tickets at concerts and the Quality Fair, etc, etc. The contribution they make to the band is invaluable and here we record our thanks to them all .
The band’s Vice-Presidents have been among its leading supporters:
- Mrs Marson
- Mrs Chipp
- Mrs Smith
- Mr Ludgate
- Mr Nye
- Mrs Warner
- Mrs Hughes
- Mr & Mrs W Inter
- Mr Bush
- Mrs Beck
- Mr Carmichael
- Mr & Mrs Chalcraft
- Mrs Cox
- Mr Dunkley
- Mrs Roberts
Band Officers – 1985–86
President: D H Marson
Bandmaster: G Hughes
Assistant Bandmaster: D Ruel
Secretary: J R Roberts
Treasurer: G Clarke
Librarian: N Winter
Equipment Officer: M. Warner
Publicity Officer: E Godden
Committee Members: J Cherry (founder member); F Poston (founder member); R Waite; J. Warner
Only the position of Hon. Fund Raiser remains vacant! Applicants are warmly invited!
The band’s 25th anniversary celebrations begin in November 1985 – 4th November, 1960 being the date on which the first practice of the band was held.
This magazine has been a celebration of the band through those changing years and an appreciation of its founder, Mr Gerallt Hughes, who has led it to this day.
At the time of going to press, we will already have made presentations of silver salvers to Mr Hughes and the other three founder members still playing with the band – Frank Poston, George Clarke and Jennifer Cherry – at our concert in aid of Frimley Park Hospital on 13th October.
An anniversary supper continues the celebrations on 23rd November and further events are planned for 1986, the highlight being the forthcoming trip to Bietigheim at Easter.
TO THE FUTURE
During the last 25 years some of our biggest changes included the change to low-pitched instruments; a change in the band’s tone colour due to bigger-bore instruments; the introduction of percussion into contes ting which escalated into widescale vigorous music incorporating a large variety of percussive instruments; the new entertainment contests and the supportive, much valued sponsorship by Charles Church Developments Limited.
What of the next 25 years? There will probably be further progressive improvements in the manufacturing of instruments; perhaps more outlandish uniforms to match the everyday scene; more frequent overseas engagements due to faster and improved transport arrangements, and the entertainment contest with its emphasis on lighter music ousting the traditional “set-piece” contests and possibly eliminating some of our more cultured music.
What was the most important factor of the last 25 years and will still be the most important factor in the year 2010 AD? The answer is obvious – having contented band members bent on ensuring the highest standards in all their efforts, for it is the only inheritance that will ensure a rich and lasting future in the world of music making.
Thank you all over the years for your efforts. We face the future together with hope and enthusiasm.
Band Members – November 1985
Bandmaster: Gerallt Hughes (1960)
Soprano Cornet: Michael Warner (1976)
Principal Solo Cornet: Clair Roberts (1976)
Solo Cornets: John Kerry (1984); Brian Osborne (1969); David Ruel (1978); Les Horrocks (1983); Alan Roberts (1975)
Repiano Cornet: Joe Chipp (1970); Cyril Robinson (1961)
Flugel: Nigel Winter (1972)
2nd Cornet: Ruth Cherry (1981); Karen Ellis (1979); Neil Berry (1984)
3rd Cornet: David Bennett (1984); Martin Curtis (1980); Richard Hill (1984)
Solo Horn: Richard Dunkley (1980)
1st Horn: Elizabeth Godden (1966)
2nd Horn: Lisa Dunkley (1982); Jacqueline Ruel (1970)
1st Baritone: Jennifer Cherry (1960)
2nd Baritone: Jacqueline Beck (1978)
Principal Euphonium: Alan Beck (1961)
Euphonium: John Roberts (1975); Joanne Ellis (1981)
Solo Trombone: Kevin Beckwith (1985)
2nd Trombone: Alan Curtis (1980)
Bass Trombone: John Warner (1976)
Eb Bass: Arthur Wyness (1973); Frank Poston (1960); Dennis Knight (1985)
Bb Bass: George Clarke (1960); Ray Waite (1976)
Percussion: Robert Cherry (1979)
Assistants: Michael Cherry (1965); Ron Chalcraft (1968); Ron Winter (1970)