Alan Charles Albert Finney LRAM RM was born on 14 th August 1931 to
Harry and Annie Finney as one of four children.
It was during his time at William Harvey Grammar School that it was
saw a man in uniform and asked him what his uniform was. The man replied
that it was the Royal Navy School of Music uniform. He was 14 years
foot seven and a half, and had never played a musical instrument when
joined the Royal Marine Band Service.
During his initial training on the Isle of Man he acquired the name
for Benito because of his dark Italian good looks, a name that has stuck
him ever since. He was then drafted to Burford to complete nearly 4
musical training before joining his first ship, the HMS George V in
Ben met his future wife Joan at the dances held in the West Cliff Hall
whilst serving at the Royal Marine School of Music in Deal. Shortly
after he was
drafted to HMS Bermuda where he spent the next 3 years in Cape Town
sailing up and down the East Coast of Africa. Ben kept in touch with
writing beautiful love letters, and on his return to Deal, they married
Luke’s Church in Ramsgate on the 7 th March 1953. Nine months
later they had
their first child, Rebecca followed 20 months later with their second
Ben’s first promotion was to Corporal and soon after to Sergeant,
HMS Implacable under Bandmaster Stan Glasspole. In 1956 he was picked
secondment with the Royal New Zealand Navy. The whole family sailed
HMS Rangitoto taking 5 weeks to get there. Whilst serving for two and
years in New Zealand, he had the good fortune of visiting many of the
Sea Islands with the Band. A third child, Michael was born there in
Returning to England and Deal he was promoted Bandmaster in 1960.
The next draft was to HMS Ganges, Shotley, Nr Ipswich the well-known
Training Barracks. Whilst there he became the Director of Music for
Operatic Society in 1964 at The Gaumont Theatre conducting and orchestrating
Oklahoma, The Student Prince and Kiss-me-Kate after
serving his apprenticeship on West Side Story the previous year.
A draft to join HMS Tiger in 1966 proved very memorable for various
Whilst on HMS Tiger the ship docked in Cardiff only to hear the very
of the Aberfan disaster. He, and a number of his bandsmen, went to assist
rescuers with the consent of the ship’s Captain. Then in the December
Tiger was the venue for the Rhodesian peace talks between PM Harold
and Ian Smith.
From ship to shore and back to Deal School of Music (DoM) where he studied
for his A levels and later his LRAM. His fourth child Rosemary was born
He gained his Commission in 1970 and drafted to HMS Raleigh at Torpoint,
Cornwall. The next draft was to HMS Centurion in Gosport as Drafting
eventually returning to Deal to be Director of Music Training and further
promoted to Captain in 1978. Ben was instrumental in getting the Prince’s
Badge inaugurated for the best all round Musician in each annual intake.
After 36 years Ben retired from the Royal Marine Band Service in August
Post Service career 1981 - 1996
A variety of jobs followed, he worked with Boosey and Hawkes, instrument
mending, and a teaching role at Kings School Canterbury before settling
being at sea again, working for Townsend Thoresen (Later P&O)
in the Foreign
Exchange desk for the next 10 years. Ben changed uniforms briefly and
an RAFVR Officer but the Blue was the wrong colour for him.
Throughout most of his working life he was a Freemason, initiated in
achieving Mastership in 1971. He attended several Lodges, the Globe
the Ark, the Craft and the Rose Croix, eventually promoted to Provincial
Grand Registrar in recognition for his 50 years in 2012. He celebrated
year of service in 2022.
Ben was also a Rotarian and a Past President of the Deal Rotary. He
awarded a Paul Harris Fellow medallion for his work whilst a Rotarian.
particularly interests were the Shelter Boxes, and the Drinking Straws
water. He was also keen to be part of the team awarding Usborne Dictionaries
to the Primary Children of Deal.
his connection with the Royal marine Band Service, Ben played his
clarinet in the “All Stars” concerts at the Winter Gardens
Margate where the
“Old Friends” were able to play together once more.
On the 7 th March 2023 he celebrated 70 years of marriage to Joan, the
his life and mother of his children. Not many can say they have received
from both Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III. Joan has been his
support, companion and driving force throughout all those years. Ben’s
on the Band Service, community and family will be felt as he moves on
next adventure after crossing the bar.