By John M Ware OBE, BA, LRAM
With regard to your comments about the Portsmouth Reunion weekend and those of others on the website, I, sadly, was not present this year and so am unable to comment in detail on what went on, nor am I able to comment upon the attitude of the current regime towards the organisation of the event. You would have to ask them directly for their thoughts. I am sure, though, that they will have done their best, considering the lack of resources and facilities they now have, to make the Saturday evening as interesting and enjoyable as possible. The Memorial Service on the Sunday is not in question and never will be. You will recall, though, that we always used to hold this Service on 1st June in Deal. It was altered some time ago to coincide with the Reunion simply in order to give more opportunity for ex-RMBs to attend.
You ask whether I had input into the weekend as PDM. The answer to that is "not much" although, of course, I did have oversight as I did with everything else "Band Service". The Reunion in Deal was very much a traditional affair run by a well oiled "machine" in the shape of the SOM's Department. We also had the advantage of all the facilities, including Parade Ground, Drill Shed and the various Messes in RM Deal. All of this, sadly, was lost in the move to Portsmouth. One of my great regrets but, I'm afraid, inevitable with the change. Even so, in the "old days", there were invariably criticisms, often carping I have to say, from members of the "old and bold" Brigade. The "Fings ain't what they used to be" song is not new.
I know that Richard Waterer and his team did their level best to keep things going after the move to Portsmouth, when their priorities were, inevitably, more about settling the RMSM itself and finding their feet in a very new and different environment. This was the period, I believe, when Barry Radford stepped into the breach for a while. Subsequently I have always felt that the leadership team has taken it's responsibilities towards us "old-uns" very seriously and, if that is not to our satisfaction, then it is certainly not because of a lack of respect or care on their part, simply a lack of the wherewithal.
The RMBS has changed! Of course it has! It has shown the same adaptability and professionalism that has characterised it since its beginnings in the early 1950's and been a key factor in establishing the reputation it continues to enjoy. But it lives in a very different world to the one we occupied. Society has changed and the Band Service has changed with it. Even when I was involved, it was very difficult to persuade serving members and those who had left more recently to attend reunions. That is even more the case these days when the younger generations socialise in very different ways, mostly by way of technology. I am currently President of the Cornwall branch of the RMA and we, like all branches and, indeed, like most institutions, are suffering falling membership because younger people will not commit. The Band Service Reunion, I guess, has the same problem. However, as long as attendance holds up and there is a perceived need for the event, I am sure the RMBS will continue to do the best it can to fulfil that need.
[Webmaster] Considering the many messages posted on this site including those posted after the reunion weekend on the 'Commentary' link, this message from our former PDM I do think has covered in great detail most if not all aspects of the grumbles many of us have and I make no apologies for that but I can say to you all that only yesterday did I post a letter to our current PDM Jon Ridley asking him to take a look at our website for what I hope he gleans to be some constructive criticism. I do not believe that there are any negative comments for negativities' sake, but that our ideas come from a wealth of knowledge and experience knowing how we are all different in attitude yet unique en bloc! I for one hope that 'matters' take a positive course for those of us who want this tradition to continue irrespective of how radically the service we know has changed. Dickie.
Richard Valentine - 1996 - 2019© - All rights reserved