Melton marching band members to play at special celebration

Two long-serving members of iconic Melton marching bands will be taking part in a special regional celebration of the movement next month.

By Nick Rennie
Friday, 17th June 2022, 10:43 am
Updated Friday, 17th June 2022, 10:44 am
Melton Toy Soldiers marching band stalwarts, Brian Gordon (left) and Andy Harrison
Melton Toy Soldiers marching band stalwarts, Brian Gordon (left) and Andy Harrison

Banding Together, which will take place at Derby, has been organised to rekindle the era when more 100 carnival bands performed at festivals and fetes throughout the East Midlands.

Brian Gordon, who has played the trumpet with the Melton Mowbray Toy Soldiers for 67 years, will be there along with Andy Harrison, a trombone player with the Melton Tally Ho Carnival Band when he was a child and also a stalwart of the Toy Soldiers.

The event, which is also a fundraiser for a planned movie based around the golden age of marching band, will feature live music by band members and a giant cinema screen showing archive film footage of them in action in bygone years.

Melton Toy Soldiers performing in the United States in 1986

Brian tried to join the Toy Soldiers aged just nine but was turned away for being too small to carry a drum before joining the following year.

He recalled: “I remember starting off on the cymbals as they were light enough for me to carry when I was 10.

"Then I went on to play the side drum, and when the band started getting short of trumpet players I began on that.

“The banding movement was great for teaching discipline.

Actor David Chabeaux, who is organising the Band Together event and planning a film on marching bands

"You didn’t get many kids involved in trouble with the police.

"It instilled camaraderie and gave youngsters something to go and something to do two or three times a week.”

Brian will be performing at the event with the Toy Soldiers alongside Andy, who was a member for three decades until 2020.

Andy, who started off in the Tally Ho’s as a child, met his wife, Keeley, after joining the Toy Soldiers as a teenager.

Melton Toy Soldiers line up for a photo

The special event, which is at Borrowash Victoria Football Club on July 24, has been put together by actor David Chabeaux, who grew up in the Derby Serenaders marching band, playing under the leadership of his grandfather, ‘Moz’ Ward.

David, a star of Peaky Blinders and Netflix horror drama, Red Rose, is the man behind the marching band film, which will be titled Moz’s Band in tribute to his grandfather.

“The loss of the carnival banding movement is felt very keenly amongst many people across the East Midlands, David said.

"It provided a sense of belonging and togetherness that I feel we have lost in today’s society where it seems everybody has become very disconnected, and it can be difficult for different generations to bond as they used to.

Toy Soldiers at a practice jamming session

"I really hope that lots of people can make it to our Banding Together day to find out more about what the movement was all about and enjoy a spectacular and fun afternoon too.”

Other attractions at the event, aside from the bands performing, will be a carnival with stalls, stands, inflatables, a beer tent and walking football. There will also be a parade of band uniforms from down the years, live music and a prize raffle, ending with an ‘old school’ disco with outdoor dance floor.

Tickets for Banding Together are available online at www.mozs.band/tickets or by calling 07437 160832. A £7 early bird ticket is available until the end of this month with tickets after that costing £10, with under 12s getting in free.

The iconic Melton Toy Soldiers uniform
Melton Toy Soldiers members pictured in 1988