Surprise visit from Royal Marines band brings festive fun

From left, Rosie Rixon, Richard Rixon, Jack Rixon and Gary Lamsdale from Hayling Island, all members of Solent Overlord Executive, with Richard's 1941 GMC CCKW swb truck Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180082-004)

Heroics of Portsmouth’s brave soldiers are remembered at tribute event

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SCHOOLCHILDREN couldn’t believe their eyes when a brass quintet from the Portsmouth band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines came marching through the doors of their school hall.

The musicians took time out of their busy programme to bring a surprise Christmas treat to youngsters at three schools yesterday.

(l-r) Director of music Captain Pete Curtis talking to Harvey Hinchcliffe (5) and Francesca Thornton (5).''Picture: Sarah Standing (124114-8434)

(l-r) Director of music Captain Pete Curtis talking to Harvey Hinchcliffe (5) and Francesca Thornton (5).''Picture: Sarah Standing (124114-8434)

Youngsters sang along, shook bells and smiled as the band performed a series of festive favourites.

The Royal Marines visited Langstone Junior School in Copnor and Solent Infants and Solent Juniors in Farlington.

Lucy Wilby, the headteacher of Solent Infant School, said: ‘Pupils and staff could 
not believe their eyes or ears when the band marched through the assembly hall.

‘They were immediately inspired to sing along as the amazing sound of the instruments filled the school hall.

‘It was particularly special as the songs the band played were those the children have been learning in school ready for their nativity performances and carol concert.

‘Children and staff were encouraged to show their musical talent by joining in.

‘I’m not sure the pupils will ever experience an assembly quite like it again.’

Captain Pete Curtis is the director for music for the Portsmouth band.

He said: ‘It’s been great for us to bring a band to school, especially in an area where there are lots of service families.

‘We had an awesome response with rounds of applause like we were on the X Factor.

‘We may even have inspired one or two of the audience to learn a music instrument.’

Excited youngsters sang along to the festive songs, including Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bells, Away in a Manger and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

Eleanor Grantham, six, a pupil at Solent Infant School, said: ‘That was the best assembly ever. I didn’t want the music to end.’

As well as being world-class musicians, the Royal Marines bandsmen are trained to support on military and humanitarian operations around the world. During operations they work as casualty handlers, drivers, radio operators and handle convoy protection to give support to troops on the ground and at sea.