RN Volunteer Band HMS Seahawk
BdCSgt N DednumBMus(Hons) AMusTCL Royal Marines
Well once again it's time for the article you've all been waiting for; the opportunity to enter the lives of the Kernow Massive, who are all ready for their latest TV appearance. More of that later.
At the tail end of 2011 it was time for Bandy to attend the annual Volunteer Band Conference, which this year clashed with a Wings Parade for 824NAS. With that in mind it was only right that we shared some of our love, so enter stage-right Band Sergeant Pete Woffenden from Plymouth Band to experience his first piece of life as a VBI.
It was a typical VB gig for Pete really; not sure of numbers until the last minute, Bass players not sure of the dots, and an inspecting officer who is not sure of the way things should go. This led to the Great Escape 'escaping', and a tap on the shoulder from the Base Warrant Officer sixteen bars into Scipio to inform Pete that the inspecting officer had broken the land speed record whilst inspecting the guard, and it was now our turn! Thanks to Pete though for standing in – hope you enjoyed it!
The Taranto Night Dinner followed shortly afterwards in the Wardroom, and after recent complaints that the Band couldn't see Bandy's baton properly in the low light levels, Bandy had a plan. Out came a mini light sabre, or rather a light-up baton, and that was the end of our excuse for wrong notes, not watching, bad tuning, or any other faux pas we could make!
Remembrance Ceremonies are an important occasion in any Military Band's diary, and we are no exception. Chief Petty Officer Mark Rooke once again sounded a faultless Last Post and Reveille over the Station tannoy system for the 2 minutes' silence, which this year came with the added pressure of station personnel lining the roadways at the same time to say farewell to Captain Toby Williamson RN, our Commanding Officer.
Captain Williamson, himself a keen musician, has always been a keen supporter of his Band throughout his eighteen months in charge, always encouraging us, and incredibly proud at last year's festival. We wish him all the best in his new appointment.
Remembrance Sunday saw the first official appearance of Captain Willie Entwistle RN, who it turns out, is a keen bagpiper. That is a little bit of a shame as we were all hoping for another musician as our CO, but beggars can't be choosers, and we'll do our best to convert him!
Our own bagpiper, AET Dave Gallie, joined with us to play a lament during the RNAS Culdrose service, and as Chief Petty Officer Rooke was displaying his talents in Falmouth, Barrie Trevena stepped into the breach to deliver our second faultless Last Post and Reveille of the week. Dave and Rookie's day didn't even finish there though, as they also performed at Carbis Bay in the evening. I'm pleased to announce that Rookie was even fully clothed this year!
All too soon, and I mean all too soon, it was once again time for the Station Panto. Petty Officer 'Tato' Jo Rooke decided that this year she was to turn to the 'luvvies' side of things and tread the boards as the fairy godmother. This was actually quite handy as it meant we had an inside track on what was going on. The sayings that refer to picnics in Tescos, and 'certain celebrations" in breweries immediately spring to mind!
Somehow though, the pantomime passed without too many incidents. Nathan won nearly all the raffle prizes, we all did our best understand the storyline, and when we got bored we hurled abuse at Jo. It was quite funny though when Cadence Rooke decided that she would join Mummy on the stage, as Daddy Rooke's face was a picture. To be fair though, Cadence was one of the better actors!
Now, to our forthcoming TV appearance. Many of you will know Sarah Watson; yes, she of pitbull fame, one half of Seahawk's Dumb and Dumber. Well, apparently leather-clad motorcycle paramedics of the female variety are a little unusual, and so Sarah had her very own film crew following her for Channel 5's Emergency Biker series.
Not content with seeing her read magazines, drink tea, and put band-aids on cuts all day, they wanted to see some real band-aid, and rocked up at our Penryn Christmas Concert. Now the idea was just to record Sarah arriving, but in the end they loved us and recorded the full concert! Now we do realise that our moment of fame will probably last about three seconds, but as long as it's the three seconds that included Sarah's honking wrong note, we don't care! We look forward to receiving our BAFTA.
Christmas continued with the lights switch-on in the mecca of Praze-an-Beeble, which conveniently is where Bandy lives, and the meeting point is the pub, which is fine with us. Even the lights that Bandy had put up worked, and luckily no children have been harmed due to his lack of electrical awareness! Free beer afterwards was even 'more fine' with us!
Sadly not all of the beer was free at the Christmas social, but that didn't stop us drinking plenty of it. This led to a variety of headaches, with Drummy and Bandy seeming to be particularly affected. However, Bandy showed the light-weight matelot how it should be done by still woofing down his full English in the morning!
In February our Sax quartet took part in a fundraising day for Malina Bowman, a local lady who has sadly been suffering with a very aggressive form of cancer. Malina had been undertaking some very pioneering treatments to try and cure her illness, and throughout it all she remained cheerful and a real fighter. She still performed in this year's panto, and her singing of Somewhere over the rainbow to open the show, left a lump in many people's throats. Sadly, just a few weeks after the fundraiser Malina was to lose her battle, and in doing so left a gap in many people's lives. Our thoughts and prayers as a Band are with her husband Lieutenant Commander Bob Bowman, and their young son Aaron.
The annual pilgrimage to Cologne was soon upon us, and with Bandy unable to attend, it just left the usual suspects of Debs Williams, Sarah Watson, Bob Wilton, Ginge Broughal, Mark Rooke, plus the Cologne virgin Caroline Penrose to hold up the Seahawk end.
Sarah obviously turned up to leave with no uniform, forcing Bandy to enter the dressing-up cupboard, and then once she got there her Sax got trodden on, and to avoid it happening again she simply forgot her Sax for a gig! Just an average couple of days in the life of Pitbull!
The rest of the Band acquitted themselves well. The Great Wafu amazed all with his slight of hand both on and off the cornet, Debs amazed all with her manipulation skills, Bob amazed all with his Bass Trombone volume switch which goes all the way to eleven, Ginge was purely and simply amazing, and Caroline is a Cologne veteran!
Not long now until the 'Classroom Four' receive the results of their recent grade 5 theory exams. After a period of lessons with Bandy, and copious amounts of past papers, Debs, Jo, Peter and Lou, have done all the hard work, and will soon be able to stop sweating over the outcome of their efforts.
Bandy: As I approach the end of my tenure as Bandmaster of the finest RN Volunteer Band, I just want to thank you all for your dedication and hard work over the past two years. Gigs with six, gigs with thirty, players come, players go, but you've never let me down, and to think you do all this as volunteers, makes me think you've all got a screw loose!
Big thanks go to Mark and Jo for keeping me sane during lunch hours, to Gillian for the inside knowledge, to Barrie for my increased appreciation of real ales, to Peter for his cheerful whistle whenever he pops in, to Squibby for bursting my eardrums with his sop skills, and to all the rest of you for simply being there and making my two years some of the most enjoyable in my career.
But to quote the words of WO2 Freddie Lomas, 'it's time for a draft'.
Thanks everyone 'it's been emotional'!
Last updated 10 August 2012