was born in Coventry on 17 October 1945, the younger brother of two sisters
Sheila and June. Growing up in the immediate post-war years in a city
heavily devastated by the Luftwaffe, he appears to have developed an interest
in music which led to enlisting as a Junior Musician in the Royal Marines
Band Service in June 1961 when he was 15.
At the RM School of Music at Deal he learned Flute and Tenor Saxophone,
extending this versatility, as he developed, with the Piccolo and Baritone
Sax. At the age of 18 he was advanced to Musician and went to his first
ship, the shore establishment HMS Ganges in Ipswich, moving in October
1964 to HMS St Angelo, Malta for 18 months with the Med. Fleet band.
On return to England in April 66 he had 18 months in Chatham at HMS Pembroke
until being selected for a ship`s band in the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle
under Bandmaster David Elliott, for the usual 18 months commission, in
which saw the usual Med runs ashore- Gib., Malta, Naples, Toulon and over
to Norfolk Virginia where the band played at a Red Sox baseball gig. It
was during this period that he and Pam became engaged.
On conclusion of this period of sea-time, he was drafted again to Chatham
in the naval barracks, and during the next 3 years he went on the qualifying
Junior Command Course at CTCRM Lympstone, as well as getting married to
Pam in December 1970.
Promotion to Band Corporal came in November 1973 and during the following
years he and Pam became the proud parents of three sons; twins Douglas
and Gareth and Anthony, at the same time buying their own home in Gillingham.
Stability was always a key attribute to Rivers. I was delighted to be
selected to take over as Director of Music of the sea-going Staff band
of the Commander-in-Chief Fleet in Chatham, in 1978. Within a short time
the long-serving Band Secretary had a draft elsewhere and I was faced
with the key task of selecting one of the band to replace him. I decided
upon Rivers and I hope I won`t be considered immodest if I say that I
couldn`t have made a better choice.
He was quickly promoted to Band Sergeant and pitch-forked into a situation
where his day job consisted of manning the outside office to mine, answering
the phone from high and low, keeping me supplied with reports, updating
the band engagements requests for both Port and Starboard bands, occasionally
both together; typing letters from my drafts, liaising with the Bandmaster
and Drum Major on disciplinary matters, and above all providing the vitally
important supplies of tea I needed to keep me going; he very quickly became
the personification of the ideal Band Secretary. And at the same time,
he somehow managed to keep up his standard on Flute, Piccolo and Sax,
occasionally taking part in band engagements of the highest standard throughout
Because of the proximity of CinC Fleet band to London, it was inevitable
for economic reasons that our band was almost always the one chosen by
the Department of the Commandant General Royal Marines for any unexpected
need for music in London; and it was for this reason that it was always
us who did the annual performance at the Royal Albert Hall for the Festival
I was fortunate enough to be appointed the Assistant General Manager at
the RAH on retirement in 1982 from the Royal Marines.
Back in Chatham, Rivers continued with my successor until quite near the
end of his allotted span of career when his especial skills must have
been noted by both the School of Music at Deal and the CGs department
in London. This led to him being appointed as the administrator of the
annual Mountbatten Festival of Music at the Dept. of CG, with a six month
extension of service and promotion to Band Colour Sergeant until going
to pension in March 1986.
This takes us back to the Royal Albert Hall where, in 1982 on my arrival
much long-overdue reform, reorganization and introduction of Daily Orders
were needed to bring HMS Royal Albert into the 20th century, and long
hours were needed by all the management to bring the wishes of the Council
to fruition. My particular specialization was the administration and when
in 1986 I heard that Rivers was retiring from the Service, I was quick
to offer him the chance to join my staff.
Rivers joined my department, and among routine stuff quickly took on the
complex task of dealing with daily calls and letters from the Seatholders
and the even more complicated business of their ticket allocations, later
assuming Duty Manager duties for the performances of the constant shows.
Rivers fitted into all this like a glove, having an easy-going personality
that masked an iron determination to get the job done.
In 1987, he was delighted to complete his family with daughter, Beth.
I left in 1989 for early retirement and I was delighted to hear that Rivers
continued on and achieved 18 years in this second career, finally retiring
from the Hall in 2004.
After he left he did occasional work at the Central and Brook Theatres
in Chatham leaving much more time with his beloved wife and children and
giving him time to indulge his main hobbies of listening to classical
music, reading and strategic gaming.
I have had the privilege of knowing a totally sincere and upright person
whose whole life was dedicated to square conduct and integrity and whose
passing will leave a large space in our hearts.
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