The corps welcomed back the Royal Navy voluntary band from HMS Nelson under the baton of Band Colour-Sergeant Steve Green for the annual festival of remembrance. Alongside the HMS Nelson musicians was Hadleigh Temple Band and the bands played some massed numbers as well as individual contributions. One of the massed numbers introduced the HMS Nelson Corps of Drums who had regained their crown as top naval drum corps since their last visit.
Hadleigh Temple timbrels then joined the drummers on the platform as Sgt Green led the massed bands in ‘Red Shield’. Lights were extinguished and an ultra violet light picked out the performers’ white gloves, drum sticks and timbrel ribbons.
Following this overture, colours were paraded. Bill Tiffin led with the union flag and was followed by the British Legion Standard, colours of 1341 (Thundersley) Squadron Air Training Corps, 5th Canvey Island Air Scouts and flags of various sections of the corps. Hadleigh Temple Singing Company and Songsters contributed.
Special guest was international vocalist Vickee Lester from Preston. She was born up and brought up locally; her late father having owned a camera shop in Highlands. Vickee always has a photo of her father on stage when she performs. Our picture shows her with the photo of her father. Dressed in a wartime military uniform, Vickee brought songs from the Second World War and encouraged audience participation.
Dignitaries were also present. They included the Mayor of Castle Point, Cllr. David Cross, councillors and other dignitaries from Castle Point Borough and Essex County Councils, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the county, Richard Boyd (who is also an adherent member of the corps), members of the armed forces and MP Rebecca Harris. Mrs. Harris spoke of the respect the House of Commons has for the military and pointed out that parliament can only sit as it does thanks to the sacrifices of our defence forces in the past. The sermon was given by Reverend David Childs, rector of St James the Less in Hadleigh, in which he spoke of freedom, making references to the Hadleigh community over the centuries and referring to the freedom found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
The solemn service of remembrance was led by Major Gillian Dicker. It opened with the massed bands playing Elgar’s Nimrod. As the congregation rose to sing ‘Eternal Father Strong to Save’ members of the HMS Nelson drum corps entered with their instruments to build a drumhead altar – as is common in the theatre of war when there is no church available. Two flags were placed on the altar: Salvation Army colours were brought in Robin Bryant, who organised the festival. The Union Flag was carried by Lieutenant Helen Oliphant who was keen to point out that serves aboard the Royal Navy’s newest ship, HMS Diamond.
Alan Brend, who has served as a gunner in the Royal Artillery, topped the altar with the Hadleigh Book of Remembrance. A naval bugler signalled the start of two minutes’ silence during which poppy petals drifted onto the congregation. The silence was puctuated by the sound of fireworks outside which was reminiscent of gunfire.
Video of Two Minutes’ silence
Following the massed bands playing of ‘The Old City’ (composed by Steve Green) the colours left the hall to the strains of the British Legion March.
The finale to the evening was the massed bands’ performance of William Walton’s ‘Crown Imperial’ under the baton of Bandmaster Ken Hillson.