2013 Royal Australian Navy Band Association Reunion, Sydney 4th to the 7th October.
The Royal Australian Navy turned on a spectacular celebration of 100 years with events all over Sydney and the Association also used the opportunity to celebrate its historic 20th Anniversary.
With a record number of members of the Association attending this historical reunion, it is only appropriate that we capture the events of the weekend.
The 20th Anniversary Reunion took place at the Parkroyal, Darling Harbour and provided a perfect base for all of the functions that were to be held and a platform for departing to our locations for performances. Those not staying at the Parkroyal were in close vicinity and public transport (Trains) was a bonus for other band members to get to the functions. Members started arriving on Thursday in preparation for our Band commitments on the Friday.
FRIDAY THE 4th OF OCTOBER.
Rehearsal of the Veterans Band and the Meet and Greet.
St Patricks College was once again our destination on the Friday morning for rehearsals of the Veterans Band. A bus left the Parkroyal with a full compliment and met others already there for a busy day. The band numbered over 50 and was the largest band since the 2000 reunion to take to the stage. This proved a bonus and a problem to our conductor, Rob Bedwell. With plenty of eager players the balance and volume did get a little out of control but with words of wisdom from Rob and suggestions from others it became a very good sound for a band with less than 3 hours rehearsal.
The program were some of the previous pieces performed on our cruises and also new selections to give us a balanced folio for the coming performances.
St Patricks College was the perfect venue for our rehearsal and thanks to Rob for aquiring the college. It was great to have a meaningful rehearsal location as there was all the percussion gear, stands and seating readily available. Ralph and Cheryle provided a substantial lunch for the members and the afternoon rehearsal session was a more relaxed affair. Once the rehearsal was over the bus made its way back to the Parkroyal for the evenings function, The Meet & Greet.
MEET & GREET Friday the 4th October.
The first official function was the Meet & Greet in the Connections Bar at the Parkroyal. With the function intending to start at 6pm it was well underway well before that. This put pressure on the Bar staff who thought (stupid idea) they had a bit of time to prepare. They were still trying to stock the fridges with beer and spirits as orders were coming over the Bar. Eventually they got it under control and the Happy Hour period and open Bar tab merged into each other. Did hear someone paid $14.00 for a beer between the changeover but I'm sure they got over it.
The evening was well attended and the photos above and below show the evening was a total success. Food flowed through the night and the usual raffle did very well, thanks to those that put their hands in their pockets. Cheryle (The apparel Queen) did well and sold plenty of Caps, T-Shirts and other association products. I'm sure all left the evening looking forward to the other functions ahead of us.
SATURDAY THE 5th OF OCTOBER
Saturday morning at 9.00am saw a large gathering for the Special General Meeting discussing the acceptance of the Constitution and By-Laws put forward in our August Newsletter. Questions from the floor were answered and a vote taken. With a overwhelming vote of confidence, the Constitution and By-Laws were accepted with some cosmetic changes to be done by Ralph, we then moved to the AGM proper. After an emotional speech by our President, Minutes read by the Secretary and a apology given by our Treasurer who had an accident the night before (Ron is now on the road to recovery), the executive declared the positions opened.
The following members were put forward via the "nomination for commitee forms" sent to the Secretary and were accepted.
President: John Widdicombe
Vice President: Ralph Daines
Secretary: Don Buntine
Treasurer: Errol Hatch
State Representatives were also appointed.
Rob Himbury (NSW)
Len Nurse (Vic)
John Lennon (Qld)
Brian Ellis (Tas)
Randall (Ned) Kellis (SA)
Arthur Timms (WA)
John was applauded to the chair and took over the meeting as if he had been doing it for years. He thanked the previous Executive/Commitee who had steered the Association to new highs and gave the members good cause to be looking forward to the future. After general business and some excellent motions from the floor the meeting was declared closed. More on the specifics from the AGM will be in John's first report to members so look out for that.
From there it was a quick morning tea before band members changed for our first engagement as the Veterans Band.
Saturday Afternoon 5th October Sydney Opera House.
With public transport as our only means of getting to our alloted entertainment spot (Sydney Opera House) groups headed to the Town Hall station to catch the Train to Circular Quay. Well, so were thousands of others also trying to get to the Opera House where all the festivities and displays were happening. Finally making it to the Quay we had to fight our way to a gate to try to get in. John Lennon did an excellent job of convincing the gate keeper that us oldies couldn't walk up that steep hill (Macquarie Street). She eventaully gave in and about 20 of us made it through to the disappointement of all the civvies trying to do the same thing.
All band members eventually made it in time and it was just a matter of waiting for our turn to take to the stage. The New Zealand Navy Band were well into their routine when we arrived and played a variety of different combinations. One minute they were a Concert Band, Next Dixie, then a Trombone Quartet. A very slick combination. The Veterans Band made it to the stage and were warmly welcomed with our opening Heart of Oak/Life On The Ocean Wave.
As we were well into our performance the crowd were also entertained by an F18 which flew past in verying stages of speed and subsequent noise, it was to the bands credit that we came out of the sound barrier in sync with the conductor. He did pass at some opportune moments in our performance that helped the cause, (if you know what I mean). As always the traditional marches proved the winner with the audience and coming from a Veterans Band made them even more significant.
Our hour was up as quick as it started and we were followed by the Navy Rock Band Called the "Corvettes. It was a memorable day and all were proud to be part of the 100 year celebrations at the Opera House. From there some wandered the streets and others made their way to the Sydney Leagues Club for some well desrved refreshments of the gold kind.
SUNDAY THE 6th OCTOBER.
Sunday was a rest day for most as the Association dinner was in the evening. Others went and did cruises of the harbour or visted Darling Harbour for a bit of shopping. A group went and listened to the Royal Marines perform and attended a few ship visits. The weekend was well organised as you had to have session tickets to visit ships and this kept the crowds at a controlable level so you did actually get on and view the ships. It was a very hot day (by Melbourne standards anyway) so many returned and had a Nanna Nap before the evenings proceedings.
120 members and guest arrived for the 20th Anniversary Dinner and were they in for a surprise. Ralph had kept under wraps a wonderful beginning to the evening. After drinks in the foyer we were Bugle called into dinner and took our alloted seating positions. Ralph introduced us to our special guests, LCDR Paul Cottier, Director of Music, Rear Admiral Mark Campbell and his wife Sally.
He went through the usual housekeeping scenario for the evening and then announced, Ladies and gentlemen, The Bugles and Drum Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines.
Standing up the back ready to film this significant event, the the whole room suddenly stood up and applauded the entrance of the corps and continued to be enthralled with their performance. For 15 minutes they performed a perfect display and were cheered off after they saluted the official guests.
It set the trend for the remainder of the evening and the guests went onto enjoy the entertainment and dinner. The Jazz group from the Melbourne Detachment with ABMUSN Stephanie (Monk) McCorkelle providing vocals, entertained us through the first part of the evening. A slide show was also working its magic with over a 1,000 photo's taken from the website. After the main course the official part of the evening took place with ex-secretary but new Vice-President Ralph Daines introducing our new President John Widdicombe. John gave a wonderful speech and mentioned Casterton Victoria a few times before introducing the Director of Music, LCDR Paul Cottier who just happens to come from Casterton. Paul gave a excellent speech and mentioned some wonderful people who influenced him over the years and eventually vacated the the floor for John to introduce our special guest, Rear Admiral Mark Campbell.
Previous to Mark coming to the floor, Ralph, (who was sitting next to him through the evening) had done a number on Paul and Mark (Well not really a number) but had mentioned the "Patron" word and the thoughts of our new direction as an association. As Mark finished his well received speech Ralph asked the question as he returned to his table, "Mark, would you like to be our Patron?", his reply, "Yes", Ralph immediately came to the mic and made the important announcement which brought the house down. Another amazing coup for the evening.The floor was handed Back to John and our original commitee, Jim Hawkins, Robert Bedwell and Ron Henry (Who had recovered from his accident to make the evening). Jim and Rob gave us an insight as to the origins of the association before handing back to John to finalise the official part of the night.
The Melbourne Detachment Big Band then came in, setup and gave us some wonderful music to end the evening. All that attended would agree that it was a memorable night and one not to be forgotten. The organisation skills of Ralph and Cheryle came to the fore that night and they should be commended. Cheryle's raffle team and apparel skills came to the fore also with plenty of ticket sales and cap and shirt purchases.
MONDAY THE 7th OCTOBER.
Monday saw a reasonably early start to our last official day with a performance at the Fleet Review at Barangaroo where an open day for ships was being held. A pleasant walk down Sussex Street got us all there in plenty of time to see the performance from the WA Reseve Detachment.
Some of the members from the WA Reserve Detachment are well known to the Association and it was good to catch up with them as a few of them will payoff after this week. The stage was a tight fit but we managed to all get on. With the wind keeping us on our toes music wise the band performed admirably and did our hour set. The Perth Band came back and continued entertaining the public. With that performace our reunion had officially finished. As always with ending a gig we all made our way to the nearest pub. This was a big problem as the pub everybody was being sent to was actually closed, So groups were wandering Sydney trying to find a watering hole that was actually open. Phone calls were being relayed as to possible locations, after our third attempt our group finally found an Irish pub, (Luckily it had Dave Hardstaff out the front) so in we went, and realised half the Band had already found it.
So we enjoyed the remainder of the day in an Irish Pub and had a good laugh and some good food. Tuesday saw most leave the hotel and start making their journey's home while others continued to soak up the Fleet Review atmosphere. All in all it was a memorable reunion for all. It has already been said but needs to be again, Ralph, Cheryle, thanks from all that attended, it was a hard ask but you both achieved a perfect reunion. To Rob Bedwell who kept the Band together, thanks for taking the stick. To our ex-executive, thanks for your tremendous input over the years. To the Parkroyal who went out of their way to make the reunion a success and finally to the RAN for letting us take part in the historic event, The International Fleet Review and celebrating 100 years of the Royal Australian Navy.
Finally, congratulations to the new executive, commitee members and state representatives.
Bring on Perth, 2015