The Band was formed on the 14th May, 1965, from a very small group, comprising of five members of the 3rd Hadleigh Scout Band and myself. Capt. Sydney Corbett, who was very keen on the youth movement, agreed to be Chairman and Councillor Ron Williams President, and we were off.
We started practising very hard in the old British Legion Hall, on the now site of the Western School of Dancing. Money was raised and some battered drums and trumpets were purchased. The news started to travel and within two weeks we had 24 boys, all very keen on being members of the Hadleigh Boys Band. After a year of hard practice we appeared in public on the 10th April for the very first time, marching in Hadleigh to the strains of ‘When the Saints come marching in’ and ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’. We were on our way to the Kingsway Cinema to receive our ‘Mace’ from Coun. Ron Williams. The uniforms we wore were cast-offs of the Brigade of Guards, bright scarlet jackets, navy trousers, and ex-Royal Marines white No. 2 hats. We were very proud to be marching through Hadleigh with uniforms which fitted where they touched, but nevertheless, in those days a full uniform cost £2. 7s. 6d. … a lot of difference from today, of over £60.00 each.*
Our first engagement was only two weeks away, at the ‘Renewal of Promise’ Parade for the Boy Scouts of Basildon, and we still had a lot of work to do if we were to perform with some degree of precision. The day arrived and one boy was late… Panic stations… What shall we do? Fifteen minutes later he arrived. That boy is still with the band and still occasionally arrives late, but what a difference in his playing. He has recently completed his studies at the Royal Academy of Music and is now L.R.A.M. and A.R.C.M.
In 1969 the Majorettes were formed and appeared for the first time in April 1969, under their leader and Drum Major Janet Parsons. This group of hard-working little girls added colour and extra movement to the fast increasing list of engagements. In 1975 it was decided to introduce a full woodwind section, but not enough boys wanted to play clarinets, so we introduced girls into the ranks, which swelled the numbers and improved the sound.
Our latest addition to the group is the ‘Colour Guard’, which gives more variety to our precision routines and adds more colour.
Looking back over the years, I can say with all sincerity that we are achieving what we set out to do, and that is to give the children a good sense of moral values, and teach them music and theory, so that these skills can be used in later life. Indeed, we have proved this by the number of ex-boys who have joined the services, and those who haven’t are using their ability in other directions, in the musical and commercial world.
*This story is reproduced with John Willson’s approval. It is important to remember that it was written about 1980, as reflected in the prices of uniforms. I hope that someone will continue the story and bring the history up to date. My pictures were taken in some quite exciting times 1978-80, with appearances at Buckingham Palace and in the Royal Albert Hall in London, so there will be further additions to this story. RH