Festival of Remembrance 2020
This year, the Royal British Legion’s annual Festival of Remembrance marked 75 years since the end of the Second World War. In a socially distanced event, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall paid special tribute to the contributions of Her Majesty’s armed forces. The Band of the RAF Regiment were honoured to take part in the event which was pre-recorded on Wednesday 28 October at the Royal Albert Hall.
For the main performance, the band under the direction of Principal Director of Music Wing Commander (Wg Cdr) Piers Morrell and Senior Drum Major Flight Sergeant (FS) Paul Phelan, performed a display in the arena of the Royal Albert Hall and were supported by The Orchestra of the Household Division. The display commemorated the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain and featured music from traditional military marches including Battle of Britain, Aces High, Eagle Squadron and the RAF March Past, all expertly arranged by clarinettist Corporal (Cpl) Jonathan Read.
Wg Cdr Piers Morrell and FS Paul Phelan salute at the end of the Band’s display. Image provided by Royal British Legion
The second act for the band was a performance by it's Big Band, RAF Shades of Blue led by Cpl Stephen Hunter. The Band played a medley of tunes by the Andrews Sisters and were accompanied by the wonderful Laura Main; who you may have seen on the BBC’s show Call the Midwife. The medley was skilfully arranged by trombonist Sergeant Hamish Dean and included: Glenn Miller’s In the Mood followed by Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree and finally Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy which was kick started by a superb trumpet solo by Cpl Malcom Knapp.
RAF Shades of Blue performing with Laura Main and dancers choreographed by Patrick Helm. Image provided by Royal British Legion
For the first time in it's century long history, the National Act of Remembrance held at the Cenotaph, was closed to members of the public. The Band of the RAF Regiment were honoured to provide four buglers to play as part of the service: Chief Technician (Chief Tech) Andrew Rigby, Cpls Ben Murray and Adam Rosbottom, and Senior Aircraftman (SAC) Alex Smith. The group were conducted by Bandmaster, Warrant Officer Steve McGuinness.
Cpl Adam Rosbottom commented:
“It is always an absolute privilege to contribute to the National Act of Remembrance. This year marks the Centenary of the event and although the parade was reduced in numbers due to Covid-19 restrictions, the tribute in honouring all those who sacrificed themselves was as poignant as ever. It was an honour to be part of the RAF representation at the Cenotaph.”
Buglers from the band preparing for the Act of Remembrance. From left to right; Cpl Adam Rosbottom, Chief Tech Andrew Rigby, Cpl Ben Murray and SAC Alex Smith. Image provided by RAF Music
In normal times, all RAF musicians would be involved in the remembrance weekend commemorations. Sadly, this year it was not possible so some took it upon themselves to mark the occasion and pay their respects by sounding the Last Post and Reveille from their own doorsteps.
Reverend James White, a local resident and Assistant Curate of St Martin of Tours Church in Ruislip, was not expecting to be able to observe the two-minute silence in the current climate and was particularly moved and impressed by the gesture. He notes:
“It was an unexpected gift from the trumpeters, that even in the current circumstances, the occasion could be marked with dignified tribute. I wish to share my sincere gratitude for what they did. Though it seems a small thing, these gestures are important for the soul of the Nation, and the mindful commemoration of private citizens alike. Rest assured of my continued prayers for all members of the RAF during this time of pandemic”.
Trumpeter Cpl Cris Richards sounding the Last Post and Reveille at 11am on Sunday 8th November. Image provided by Samantha Richards-Hall
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. We will remember them.”
If you missed either of the events, you can see them by following the links below:
Written by Senior Aircraftman James Richardson, Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment