Gosport veteran with dementia says tuba donation has given him his life back

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joyful navy veteran Clive Pearce says he has been given a new lease of life after his wish to once again play the tuba was granted.

The 81-year-old has been desperate to play an encore on his beloved musical instrument after recently being diagnosed with dementia.

Left to right - Colour Sergeant Andrew Laishley, care home manager Viv Coombs, Clive Pearce, Ashley Vingoe, Royal British Legion case officer for the Isle of Wight, Hampshire and Dorset, and carer Kerry Hall

Left to right - Colour Sergeant Andrew Laishley, care home manager Viv Coombs, Clive Pearce, Ashley Vingoe, Royal British Legion case officer for the Isle of Wight, Hampshire and Dorset, and carer Kerry Hall

After hearing of his musical background with the Royal Navy, staff at his care home St Vincent House, in Gosport, hatched a plan to give the sailor an early Christmas gift.

In secret the team approached the Royal British Legion, which called upon the nation’s armed forces to donate the brass instrument.

And, after months of scouring the country, members from the Army Air Corps Band of the Queen’s Division, based at RAF Henlow, stepped up and donated a £5,000 decommissioned tuba to Clive on a long-term loan.

It was presented to him at his home in Forton Road by Gosport man Colour Sergeant Andrew Laishley, who is part of the Queen’s Division.

I am just overwhelemed with emotion... You have made my life.

Clive Pearce, 81

Delighted Clive said: ‘This is the best thing I could’ve ever have wished for.

‘I have been a musician all my life. That I can pick up the tuba again and play once more is the best thing.

‘I’m just overwhelmed with emotion. I’m very grateful. You have made my life. This will not be wasted.’

Clive was a diver in the Royal Navy, serving for 12 years.

During his time in the Senior Service he served all over the world in minesweepers, as well as aboard HMS Warrior, HMS Bulwark and HMS Kenya.

He was part of the HMS Sultan band based in Gosport.

Kerry Hall, one of Clive’s carers at St Vincent House, said: ‘This has given him a new lease of life. It’s given him a purpose again.’

Ashley Vingoe is the Royal British Legion’s case officer for the area and was instrumental in the donation.

The former army veteran said: ‘The response we’ve had from all the services has been amazing.

‘It’s taken months of hard work but it’s all been worth it. This is exactly what the Royal British Legion can do.’

Colour Sgt Laishley added: ‘When I gave him the tuba he perked up immediately, it was incredible.

‘It was just great. I can’t get over his smile – it’s massive.’

Clive said he is determined to join a local band and that he will play his new tuba every day.