Mark started playing back in Sep 1972 when he went to senior school, thanks to finding his grandfathers 1st war cornet (he playing in a mounted band during the war) and that the music teacher played for Kettering Citadel SA Band. There was a brass band in the school and his playing mentor was none other than John Berryman ex Camborne and GUS.
Whilst at school Mark started playing with Bilton Silver Rugby Band. His first contest experience was in 1974 at the De Monfort Hall in Leicester where he was allowed to get rather drunk and had to go on stage minus his mouth piece, to which his parents were not impressed!
On leaving school in 1978 he joined the RAF as a clerk and also as a Voluntary Musician. There he had a full time Bandmaster at RAF Scampton and was out most weekends at concerts, parades etc. Best jobs included playing at Doncaster Races for the St Ledger in front of the packed grandstand and playing 31 fanfares for the Master Cutler in Sheffield at his annual dinner. The food and drink afterwards were fantastic, trout and champange!!!!!
All through his RAF service he played in local bands depending on his posting, on trips to the Falkland Islands he played the Last Post at two funerals in Stanley Cathedral. Not something you enjoy certainly if you knew the person.
His time in London saw Mark play with Croydon Co Op Band, he even had the pleasure, if you can call it that to play under the Wee Professor (Walter Hargreaves), not an experience to be missed. Playing in the Fairfield Halls in Croydon was the highlight of the year, such good acoustics. He moved to Staines in Jan 1988 were they qualified for the 2nd section national finals only to get posted to RAF Buchan in Aberdeen in May 1988, so Mark missed the finals later that year.
Mark moved to RAF Innsworth in Gloucester from Aberdeen in Aug 1990, when he started my first stint with the band. After a period playing with the donkeys (Mark's back row terminology for the solo cornets) he moved to the back row and has remained a fully paid up member of the back row union ever since. Whilst not at the top end of the banding tree he found the Tewkesbury family to be one of the most friendly and committed to their hobby.
A posting to Washington DC Apr 1995 to Apr 1998 saw Mark playing with the local SA band, (although he is not a SA member) again such a friendly and welcoming bunch of people. They know how to organise playing carols during Christmas or Kettling as they call it. The American version of Away in a Manger came as a shock the first time he played it!
Coming back to RAF Innsworth in 1998 saw him coming back to Tewkesbury again on the back row, this has meant that many of the cornet youngsters or learners passed through his hands. His daughter Grace started playing the cornet in April 2003 and now has passed her Grade 4, Lucy started in Oct 2004 and has now passed her Grade 1. His wife Penny was seconded to the percussion section for the 2006 Area contest at Torquay and she has now moved to E flat horn. Marks says she puts in far more practice time then he does, currently up to an hour per night!!!!! They have an interesting time coordinating cars, pick ups and drop offs so that they can all get to Training and Senior Bands!
So with 33 unbroken years playing and with the rest of the family now fully involved it just goes to show what a full and wholesome hobby brass banding can be.
Heres to the next 33!!!!!!!!
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