©2019 by 14th Eastleigh Scout and Guide Band. 

 

History of the

14th Eastleigh Scout and Guide Band

 

In 1968 the Group Scout Leader (Bill Hogg) was determined to start a band. He took all the money that the Group had at the time (£50.00) to George Potters of Aldershot and told them his vision. They asked what the budget was, and when told £50.00 they laughed and told Bill to “come back in 2 weeks and I will see what I can do”. Two weeks later Potters provided 8 Eb trumpets. The percussion section was made up of a bass drum loaned from the Salvation Army and 1 brass side drum; in the early days the cymbals were borrowed from any band they could at the displays they attended.

The first public display was Eastleigh Carnival. The first Bandmaster, Josh Bowmaker, was poached from the Boy’s Brigade band and led the band until 1972 when Trevor Dacombe took over as Bandmaster. Two years later in 1974, Ian Cole took over and has been dedicated to the band ever since. The band prospered and money was raised to provide better quality instruments, which enabled the band to take part in many prestigious events and competitions with great success. Because competitions started in April the band were often found practising in the cold Spring months at the Pirelli car park in Bishopstoke. You probably wouldn't have recognised them because of the amount of clothing that had to be worn to keep the cold out, but determination and enjoyment for music pushed the band on.

 

The band continued to attend prestigious events and were regular visitors to the Dell (the home of Southampton Football Club) where they performed before the match and at half-time, often with the majorettes. One of the band's claim to fame is being filmed whilst performing at the Dell; this film was often shown on the 70's children's television programme "play school".

(The band performing at The Dell - 1970's)

(The band at an early competition - 1970's)

The band was initially a Scout Group band but in the early 1970's was opened up to the 4th Eastleigh Guides and later to other members of the associations outside of the group. In addition to the main band a 'cub band' was formed playing brass side drums and kazoos. In 1981 the band were invited to Eastleigh's twin town of Kornwestheim in Germany. This was a very successful first trip and led to many trips over to Germany over future years, mostly to play in their large scale carnival processions.

 

At the beginning of the 1980's the band had a change of direction and moved from a traditional style to the American show band style. This continued with some success until 1984 when the restrictions of being a Scout and Guide band proved too much for many of the members. It was decided that the band would split their separate ways, with the majority of members forming the "Senators Drum and Bugle Corps" (who later went on to become very successful both in the UK and Europe). 

(The band during the 1980's)

The 14th Eastleigh band was left with just 12 members and could have gone the way of many other Scout and Guide bands at the time and folded, but for the dedication of the Bandmaster (Ian Cole) and the Assistant Bandmasters (Tony Cole and Ian West) who pulled the band back from the brink of extinction. It took a long time to build the band back up, and with new instrumentation, but this was done with some success, and in 1992 the band became British Youth Band Association National champions. The band has continued to prosper and competed in many National and European competitions winning bronze, silver, and gold awards.

(The band's winning performance at the NIA, 1992, to become National BYBA Champions)

 

The band was led musically through the 90's and early 2000's by Liz Kinloch and later Dick Whittington, who continued to push the band with harder repertoire, leading to the band performing more static engagements and concerts with their repertoire of 20 - 30 concert pieces. It's worth noting at this point that all of the band's marching repertoire was taught by ear and there wasn't a sheet of music in sight!

(The band performing in their pilots fancy dress - Eastleigh Carnival, August 2000)

Ex-Grenadier Guards Bandsman David Cole took over the reigns as Director of Music in late 2003, introducing the band to further repertoire and an increase in concert performances in the local area, performing alongside many other local community groups. It was in this period (2004) that the band moved over to their blue uniforms and white caps, which they still wear to this day. Every year between 2002 and 2007 the band visited the band competition at Midsomer Norton, where they competed in the formal parade, the carnival/fancy dress parade, and the concert competition. The results developed as the band grew, with the band receiving many 'gold' awards before the competition unfortunately folded. David also started the band's Saxophone Ensemble, who were winners of many awards in the British Youth Band Assocation Ensembles competition.

(The Saxophone Ensemble's gold-winning performance at the Midsomer Norton ensemble competition - 2005)

 

Unfortunately in 2007, work commitments meant that David Cole had to take a step back from the band, and the post of Director of Music was taken up by Greg Walker, who was at the time conducting the band in David's absence. Only eighteen months later, Greg led the band in a large scale concert at "The Point" in Eastleigh to celebrate the band's 40th Anniversary, including lots of repertoire the band wouldn't have dreamed of playing a few years earlier. The band has continued to flourish ever since, with highlights including performing at the World Scout Jamboree in 2007, performing at the National St George's Day Parade at Windsor Castle in front of Her Majesty the Queen in 2012, and 4 consecutive annual performances in the Birmingham International Tattoo between 2013 and 2016 in front of thousands of people. In recent years, alongside the band's busy marching season of Carnivals and parades, the band performs between 2 and 3 large concerts a year to audiences of over 300.

(The 14th Eastleigh Scout and Guide Band present "Spitfires in Concert" to celebrate their 40th Anniversary, 17th October 2008)

 

The band are well travelled flying the flag for Eastleigh. Alongside many trips to Germany the band has taken part in the Battle of Flowers in Jersey and has travelled all over England to perform, including multiple performances at the National Indoor Arena, the Royal Albert Hall, and outside St Paul's Cathedral. During the St Paul's performance the band played an arrangement of "Jesus Christ Superstar" whilst unknowingly being watched by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, who later commented “I didn't write it to be played like that.” OOPS! (that was a long time ago!)

The band has always put Scouting and Guiding first and supports as many Scouting events as they can including Gang Shows and St George’s Day parades. They will also do their best to support any charitable event whether it is for the benefit of the Scout and Guide Associations or for the benefit of others. Over the years the band has raised thousands of pounds for well deserved charities all over the UK.

The band has played to many celebrities in the past; as well as Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber the list includes Arthur Askey, Roy Castle, The Suns page 3 girls (fully clothed), Buster Merrifield, Lionel Blair, and Michaela Strachan.

Many of the band members have also had great success in other local and national bands and orchestras, as well as the National Scout and Guide Marching Band and NSAGO (National Scout and Guide Orchestra). The band has had many members pass through its ranks and go on to be professional musicians. In the early days Mark Biddlecombe, a snare drummer, was 1 of only 6 recruits to be accepted in to Her Majesty's Band of the Royal Marines and the only one selected for training in the percussion section. In more recent years, many members of the band have gone into the military band services, on to read music at University, or onto music college/conservatoire, all leading to a professional career in music.

(The 14th Eastleigh Scout and Guide Band and Corps of Drums in Concert - 2016)

The band is only one of three Scout Bands left in Hampshire, and the band remains to be thought of as one of the top Scout and Guide marching and concert bands in the country.  It has always been the band's policy to make instruments and uniforms available to loan to members and that all new members will immediately join the band to learn by experience.  This policy will continue and with the dedication of the members and the many volunteers that support the band the future is assured and we look forward to supporting many more young people and charities over the upcoming years.  Such is the fame of the band that a quiz question asked on BBC Radio Solent was “What is the nickname of the 14th Eastleigh Scout and Guide band?” The answer of course being...

 

THE SPITFIRES!!