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A century of sweet sounds

I was never particularly keen on brass instruments until I met the man who was destined to be my husband. To my delight, he actually serenaded me on his trumpet with Caro mio bien, … and my life was changed for ever.

However, he was shy about playing if anyone else could hear him, so it took quite a lot of persuasion to get him to join the Kingsbridge Silver Band. Once there, however, he started to enjoy himself so much that I reckoned it might be worth joining in the fun. I therefore borrowed a flugel horn and, after a few shaky weeks (I’m sure you know that a flugel horn played badly can sound unnervingly like a cow farting!) I joined the band as well. My moment of glory arrived in 2016 when I won the band’s cup for the player who had made the most improvement; but I’m sure that was only because I had started from such a low base!

Over the next few years we played in plenty of gigs: at Christmas there’s always been a huge demand for us to play carols at pubs, open air gatherings and the local nativity play; and in summer, we expended all the breath we didn’t know we had, by processing down Fore Street from top to bottom playing the Floral Dance (ad infinitum), while the rest of the town danced along in their festive clothes behind us. This is generally great fun, though the year we had to do this in pouring rain took slightly more determination. More restfully, we played each summer for an open-air service at Hope Cove, put on by the Methodist church; in November we normally do our civic duty by playing for the Remembrance Day Parade; and we perform in the bandstand in Kingsbridge on various occasions.

Most of the members of the band, including the wonderful band-leader, Irene, are long-time local residents; and some of them have been in the band for more decades than one could imagine (over 70 years in one case!). The age range has therefore been between 12 and 90 plus.

Not surprisingly, because of covid we have not been able to play as a band for nearly two years now; and this is particularly disappointing as this year, 2021, was our centenary year. The Kingsbridge Silver Band might, in fact, be the only band in the country that, until the pandemic, has played without a break for 100 years, as the practices and some gigs continued right through both world wars.

We had hoped to celebrate the centenary in style, but not only was that not possible, but we also got almost to the end of the year without playing together once. Fortunately, we managed a couple of outdoor events this December, and are now all hoping against hope that we can resume normal activities before TOO long. With some luck and imagination, we might even find a creative way to make up for our disappointment over the centenary with a delayed celebration in the next year or two.

Happy New Year to you all, and may you make music, sweet or otherwise, in 2022.