Northwood HQ Volunteer Band
BdCSgt M Robinson RM
Greetings to you all from the Metropolis; a busy end to 2011 has turned into a relaxed start in 2012. The Christmas period kept everyone busy with plenty of carolling as well as a visit to the Fleet Air Arm Museum for a joint concert with the Band from HMS Heron. The 12 members who could get away from work commitments departed from Northwood HQ on the Wednesday lunchtime and sadly, due to lack of available accommodation at RNAS Yeovilton, we had to head for a local Travelodge instead! After checking in, we had our evening meal in the Mess which was followed by a rehearsal with our friends from HMS Heron. A successful rehearsal and a few beers and buffet after kept everyone happy. The following day the Band headed for the annual shopping trip to Street, a wonderful place to shop (or so I'm told?!). The concert takes place in the evening in a wonderful setting under Concorde and is a fantastic opportunity for all; a big thanks to the entire Band in Yeovil for hosting us and especially to Colour Sergeant Tom Crane for his assistance in organising the long-standing gig. The programme was an enjoyable one from start to finish and the audience could not have been more welcoming; we hope that we can keep it in the diary for many years to come.
The next longstanding Christmas engagement was for Commander-in-Chief Fleet, Admiral Sir Trevor Soar KCB OBE, in which the Band traditionally turns up and knocks on the door carolling before being invited in to continue (something that is unheard of in the Royal Marines Band but works in the 'Vollies' world). A big thanks to Colour Sergeant Tim Carter for taking the Band for the evening in my absence; I hope they looked after you?
Following on with the Christmas theme we only had a quick concert in St Thomas' Church, our local concert venue, and some carolling in the Harlequin Centre, Watford before leave. The concert went very well, with a few helpers from Portsmouth (thanks guys you're always welcome, but not the hangover!), including some great singing from the audience and the Band played out of its skin. The carolling went very well but was somewhat limited for instruments, as the Harlequin Centre does not allow brass instruments to perform inside. So with a group of nine, including a Double Bass, it made a nicely even group of instruments apart from the tenor part and so, after much thought and consideration all that was left was to use my new found skill (well, inability) to play some Tenor Sax. After a few hours' enjoyable music and a free coffee from John Lewis, we headed home with a sizeable collection for the RNRM Charities.
Also before Christmas, the Band enjoyed their Christmas Social at the Sandy Lodge Golf Club – but sadly we also had to bid farewell to one of the longest serving members of the Band Sally Marshall, who has recently left her job as a civil servant to begin a new life in the West Country studying pottery! We all wish Sally well in her new venture and hope she will continue to play her Flute as well.
On return from Christmas leave, the Band continues to rehearse twice a week and apart from a Burns Night Dinner in the Northwood Officers' Mess, we have been quiet throughout the term. This has, however, given us the chance to expand our repertoire with plenty of new music. We have also had a surge in numbers recently and are lucky enough to have recruited Michael Bawden on Tuba and there are even rumours afoot that a Trombonist may be interested? Welcome to all new joiners; we are hoping to continue growing to symphonic size! On another sad note, the Band has just said a fond farewell to its Band Officer, Lieutenant Maxine Stiles RN. Max has been very involved with the Band during her time at Northwood and has done a lot of fantastic work behind the scenes, so a big thanks to her from all as she heads north to join HMS Neptune, and she will hopefully make an appearance at the Festival again this year. As one Band Officer departs, it is only right to welcome Flight Lieutenant Emma Palethorpe RAF into post. As a former member of the Band of HMS Ark Royal, she is no stranger to the Volunteer Band world and has been in the Band for almost a year already, so I'm sure everything will be in capable hands.
At this point, there is no more news from Premier UK HQ, apart from a big thanks to all who looked after me in Cologne; as no-one else from the Band could be spared from their work commitments, it was down to me to represent the Band! The life of a VBI is never dull! TTFN
Music in the Harlequin Centre, Watford with a bass player on sax!
Last updated 10 August 2012