THOUSANDS of people enjoyed the glitz of the proms as it returned to Portsmouth last night.
Nearly 3,000 families and music-lovers set up picnics on the lawn at HMS Excellent, on Whale Island, for the opening performance of the two-night South Coast Proms.
Crowds enjoyed music from the massed bands of the Royal Marines, along with Royal Navy Pipe Band, Portsmouth Military Wives Choir and others.
The impressive music was not the only attraction, with a Second World War Royal Navy Sea Fury roaring through the sky to start the main section of the night.
As reported in The News, veterans who served in the Second World War were specially invited to enjoy the performance and to a preview on June 25.
In a moving show, 1943 was performed from the Battle of Atlantic Suite, written for this year’s 70th anniversary.
Arthur Light, 84, of Gosport, served in the Merchant Navy aged just 14 during the war on board pilot cutters.
He was sat with his partner Chris Thomas in the veterans’ section.
He said: ‘I met a number of the musicians who are performing.
‘I’m listening for the piece of music that was specially composed for the Battle of the Atlantic – I was a young man then.’
‘It’s absolutely marvellous, the Royal Marines have looked after us very well indeed.’
But the night did not only draw in current and former members of the forces, as mums and dads and their little ones sat on the lawn and camping chairs with picnics.
Mini Elliot, 41, and her husband Giles, 43, had brought their two sons, Archie, seven, and Finn, 11.
The family, from Funtington, were enjoying the title song from the James Bond film Skyfall, sung by Musician Ellie Lomas.
Archie said: ‘I like the music – I think the Royal Marines Band are really good.
‘They’re very smart and I like the uniform as well.’
His brother Finn added: ‘It’s really good – the atmosphere and the songs that they play.’
The grand finale saw the gathered thousands stand up and wave the Union flag to the March Past of the Royal Navy, Heart of Oak, and the Regimental March of the Royal Marines, A Life on the Ocean Wave.
WO2 Reg Sheen, proms manager, said: ‘To see all these people here is fabulous.
‘Our shows are more visually entertaining than a normal concert.’