National Band tour of Devon 27th-31st July 2015
Our summer tour this year took in the many sights of the beautiful county of Devon. National Band hasn’t been to Devon for around twenty years so we thought it was about time we went back.
Our base was Grenville House Outdoor Education Centre in Brixham. www.grenvillehouse.co.uk . It’s right on the harbour and was a perfect centre, providing everything we needed in terms of accommodation, rehearsal space and communal areas. We had sole use of the place which meant we were able to use the space as we wished, including bugle calls! We were very well looked after and the staff couldn’t do enough for us, especially the kitchen staff on curry night!
The Monday morning journey down was, for some, very long and arduous. Those from the North West had a particularly horrendous time thanks to the good old M6! While we were waiting, the rest of us got settled into our rooms and even had time for a visit to the beach-some even took a dip in the sea!
Monday evening was a quiet affair as everyone was tired but teams were sorted and challenges for the week were set including a scavenger hunt and a collage project!
On Tuesday we were up bright and early for breakfast and a last minute run through of the music and routine on the playground.
Then it was into uniform for a march down to the harbour for our first performance of the day. The audience were fantastic and very generous providing some lovely comments and several opportunities to promote the work of the Brigade and the National Band. We then went back to the centre for lunch before parading back down to the harbour for our second performance.
Tuesday evening was the aforementioned curry night. We were leaving shortly after dinner for a concert at the Royal Marines Commando Training Centre so we’d all got ready beforehand. The kitchen staff were adamant that no one spoilt their outfits so they were handing out tea towels and even a full apron to cover a white dress!
The concert was brilliant and it was so good to see three ex-National Band members in the band. My son in particular was transfixed by the drum corps!
Wednesday was the busiest with a performance in the morning at Paignton Green as part of the Torbay Carnival, another performance at Goodrington Sands at lunchtime, followed by some free time involving a water park, some crazy golf and sandcastle building. After dinner we were back out in uniform to have the great honour of leading the Torbay carnival on a two mile route through Paignton. A fantastic effort from everyone involved! Three performances in one day is tough but we did it! We even managed to squeeze in a picture in front of the building (now the Palace hotel) which was Walter Mallock Gee’s childhood home.
Thursday morning was rather quieter with a team “sports day” challenge and a last minute chance to get the remaining items on the scavenger hunt list and put the finishing touches to the collages for judging that evening. Thursday afternoon saw us doing two performances and Cockington Court which we found out (thanks Rob Bolton) was Walter Mallock Gee’s mother’s family home.
On returning to the centre we headed down to the beach for a final dip in the sea (for some mad fools) and photos.
The prize giving and judging took place later that evening along with the finals of the hotly contested table football and table tennis competitions with smiles for some and sour grapes for others ;-) The effort and teamwork involved was fantastic and it was evident that everyone had really enjoyed themselves.
Operation clean-up commenced on Friday morning with everyone pitching in to get all the kit in the correct vehicles. Despite having to work around workmen replacing doors at the centre we got everything packed away and said our final goodbyes. The less said about the homeward journeys the better but massive thanks again to the minibus drivers who got everyone home eventually! It had been a fantastic if tiring few days and we are immensely proud of each and every member for their commitment, resilience and cooperation during what was the first tour in charge for the senior team. They should all be very proud of themselves and their parents should know what remarkable young people they have. It really has been a privilege to spend time with them-just give us a while before we start thinking about the next one ;-)
National Band Senior Team