Alan Charles Albert (Ben) Finney 1931-2023

Captain LRAM RM
Served 1945 - 1981

Captain 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 said he
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 old, five
foot seven and a half, and had never played a musical instrument when he
joined the Royal Marine Band Service.

During his initial training on the Isle of Man he acquired the name Ben, short
for Benito because of his dark Italian good looks, a name that has stuck with
him ever since. He was then drafted to Burford to complete nearly 4 years of
musical training before joining his first ship, the HMS George V in 1948.

Ben met his future wife Joan at the dances held in the West Cliff Hall Ramsgate
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 and
sailing up and down the East Coast of Africa. Ben kept in touch with Joan,
writing beautiful love letters, and on his return to Deal, they married in St
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 child

Ben’s first promotion was to Corporal and soon after to Sergeant, serving on
HMS Implacable under Bandmaster Stan Glasspole. In 1956 he was picked for
secondment with the Royal New Zealand Navy. The whole family sailed on
HMS Rangitoto taking 5 weeks to get there. Whilst serving for two and a half
years in New Zealand, he had the good fortune of visiting many of the South
Sea Islands with the Band. A third child, Michael was born there in 1958.

Returning to England and Deal he was promoted Bandmaster in 1960.

The next draft was to HMS Ganges, Shotley, Nr Ipswich the well-known Naval
Training Barracks. Whilst there he became the Director of Music for Ipswich
Operatic Society in 1964 at The Gaumont Theatre conducting and
orchestrating the shows,
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 reasons.
Whilst on HMS Tiger the ship docked in Cardiff only to hear the very sad news
of the Aberfan disaster. He, and a number of his bandsmen, went to assist the
rescuers with the consent of the ship’s Captain. Then in the December HMS
Tiger was the venue for the Rhodesian peace talks between PM Harold Wilson
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 in 1968.
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 Officer
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 1981.

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 on
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 became
an RAFVR Officer but the Blue was the wrong colour for him.

Retirement 1996-2023

Throughout most of his working life he was a Freemason, initiated in 1962 and
achieving Mastership in 1971. He attended several Lodges, the Globe & Laurel,
the Ark, the Craft and the Rose Croix, eventually promoted to Provincial Past
Grand Registrar in recognition for his 50 years in 2012. He celebrated his 60th
year of service in 2022.

Ben was also a Rotarian and a Past President of the Deal Rotary. He was
awarded a Paul Harris Fellow medallion for his work whilst a Rotarian. His
particularly interests were the Shelter Boxes, and the Drinking Straws for dirty
water. He was also keen to be part of the team awarding Usborne Dictionaries
to the Primary Children of Deal.

Given 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 love of
his life and mother of his children. Not many can say they have received cards
from both Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III. Joan has been his constant
support, companion and driving force throughout all those years. Ben’s impact
on the Band Service, community and family will be felt as he moves on to his
next adventure after crossing the bar.

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