Iain Stewart was born on Monday 8th August 1960 in Rangiora near Christchurch
in New Zealand. His Scottish parents travelled to the other side of
the world, effectively hitch hiking their way around the country. They
had all four of their children before returning on the ocean liner SS
Northern Star, the inquisitive young Roderick came perilously close
to falling overboard during the passage to Liverpool.
The family returned home to Scotland where they lived in the village
of Birnam next to Dunkeld in Perthshire, the village appears in Shakespeare's
play Macbeth as Great Birnam Wood. The area also inspired Beatrix Potter,
who spent her childhood holidays there and from where she wrote Peter
Rabbit... the Stewarts lived across the road.
Roderick was raised with older brother Robert (Bob) who became a Royal
Marines Officer, Alisdair.. a forester turned Police Officer and their
Young Rod and his siblings were all educated firstly at Royal School
of Dunkeld Primary School before progressing to Perth Grammar School.
13th September 1976... Roderick travelled to RM Deal to join the Royal
Marines Band Service as a trombone player and a junior musician of thirty-two
strong 3/76 Troop. They began their training under Instructor Sgt Heal,
a prominent figure to the boys, who was rarely seen out of full lovats
for the whole of basic training, he was firm but fair and someone the
troop could aspire to. From then on and throughout his service life
he was better known and always referred to as Rod, Jock or ‘Roo’...
Harry Harding had a nickname for everyone... his name for Rod was ‘Guinea
“All the local girls used to want to dance with him up at the
Churchill Club discos (NAAFI Bop), they all thought he was essence”!
Part of training was the trip to Loch Ewe in the top end of Scotland...
the train stopped at Dunkeld on the way up there and Rod managed to
spend a couple of minutes with his mum and dad with the remainder of
the troop hanging out of the windows!
While in Training Company he was rewarded with the role of Section Commander
before progressing to the House Captain and was awarded the trombone
class prize for 1977.
was part of an extremely busy Junior Band throughout 1978... the young
musicians and buglers ventured out of the United Kingdom for the very
first time with a two-week long trip on HMS Hermes to Copenhagen, in
fact no Junior Band had ever travelled overseas before. This was followed
up in June with a coach trip to Deal’s twin town Vlissingen in
Holland, where they were met and accommodated by local families. The
juniors also returned onboard the Hermes for a visit to Hamburg in October
1978. The following month Rod was selected to join the Royal Marines
School of Music Staff Band for their support of 41 Commando’s
Ceremonial Duties in London between 4th-30th November, the first time
since 1935 that the Royal Marines were tasked with the London Duties.
Also taking part in the duties was his older brother... 2nd Lieutenant
Bob Stewart who was an officer in the colour party.
completion of training in 1978... Musician Stewart returned north of
the border when he was drafted to the thirty-five strong Royal Marines
Band Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland (FOSNI), the band was
based at HMS Caledonia before their move to HMS Cochrane (Rosyth Naval
Base) a year later. He travelled down to London a few months later to
take part with the Massed Bands featuring Portsmouth, Fleet, FOSNI and
CTC, for the sombre occasion of the funeral of Lord Mountbatten on 5th
Rod became part of a very excitable FOSNI Band between 1978 and 1982.
He was a quality bass trombonist and renowned for his big deep tones,
he was a member of the band that included other talented young musicians
like John Aylmore, George Tate, Ian Milne, Malcolm Payne and Mac McDermott...
an absolutely fantastic bunch of guys, led by influential Director of
Music Lieutenant Ron Kempton. Following a concert in Kirkcaldy... the
write-up in the local newspaper described the flute player (Dave Clements)
as excellent and the bass trombone player as ‘enthusiastic’!
The said trombonist travelled with the band on their first ever trip
to Reykjavík in Iceland as guests of the United States Marine
Corps... the first by FOSNI band or any other RM Band... the trip then
became an annual event.
The band made regular trips over to Northern Ireland... and as a result,
Rod and the majority of FOSNI ranks were presented with the General
Service Medal with Northern Ireland Clasp, awarded for a minimum of
thirty-days service in the Province. FOSNI Band regularly gave concert
performances in Belfast city centre during the 80’s and usually
in camouflage rig. It was such a dangerous place to perform at the height
of the troubles, they were a sitting target for the terrorists. Bob
was the Royal Marines Officer and the head of a team responsible for
Naval related intelligence so he had the unenviable task of providing
their security for these visits.
In 1981... Rod was in the band that visited Bangor in Northern Ireland
onboard the Leander-class frigate HMS Cleopatra (F28), FOSNI Band were
there to take part in the celebrations to mark the linking of the ship
and the town. The climax of the visit was a beat Retreat on the seafront...
the crowd applauded after every single march!
One quality Rod didn’t possess was punctuality... he was at the
Royal Albert Hall performing in the 1984 Mountbatten Concert, his proud
parents had travelled from Scotland to see the concert and took their
seats eager to see their son on stage... he was absolutely nowhere to
be seen, the lights came up and still there was nothing but an empty
chair in his position, then just as the music started they saw what
appeared to be a dark shape moving slowly and stealthily at low-level
crawling on all fours... he quickly sat himself down and was ready to
play his first note! ... He was then referred to as ‘The Fox’
after that incident!
owned a Triumph motorbike while he was at Cochrane... and a Mark I Motorguzzi
Le-Mans... in fact half a dozen of the band members had bikes... they
called themselves FOSNI’s Angels! They would set off on them and
go on mini tours around Scotland.
On one particularly scorching hot day the lads went on a ride, they
stopped in a cafe for a fry up and parked their bikes opposite. Looking
out the window a while later they watched each bike in turn sink sideways
and slowly crash to the ground like dominos as the tarmac melted beneath
Rod delighted in taking his elderly grandmother on the back of his Ducati
for adventures in the hills of Scotland, she’d be kitted out in
her leathers, helmet and red leather boots... they would take additional
resources including fishing rods, a flask of tea and sausages.. Onlookers
would look surprised when at petrol stations, they would expect a glamorous
young lady riding pinion... she would then remove her helmet to reveal
a white haired little old lady!
Rod was a keep fit fanatic and would regularly be seen in the gym. He
was also an important cog in the band rugby team... and like many of
the lads in the band... he represented HMS Cochrane too.
1982 Rod returned south to join the Royal Marines Band Commander in
Chief Naval Home Command based at Eastney Barracks in Portsmouth, under
the direction of Captain Peter Heming.
Rod was amongst the musicians on stage for the 1983 Mountbatten Concert..
and one of the pieces that year was Peter Rabbit & Tales of Beatrix
Potter... casting his mind back to his boyhood years at Great Birnam
Rod was selected for Royal Yacht duty in 1984 and because of his muscularity,
his uniform had to be re-tailored, but it didn’t return to him
in time, so the boat literally sailed without him.
a consequence of missing the trip on the Yacht... Rod left Portsmouth
in 1984 and was drafted to the Royal Marines Band Commando Training
Centre (CTC), where amongst his highlights were enjoying two trips to
Belize. Rod... like many ranks at CTC lived in nearby Exmouth where
he shared a house with fellow musician John Hart.
As fate dictated... missing the boat was a good thing, consequently
Rod met Anne in 1985 while he was based at Lympstone... He was a real
fitness freak... and Rod joined a gym called ‘Willows’ in
Exeter along with some of his band mates... Anne worked at the gym.
It was love at first sight for her and Rod’s oppos helped orchestrate
a date with him... and so their adventures together began. Rods keep
fit sessions at ‘Willows’ matured into serious body building
sessions. The band’s fitness improved dramatically, especially
Rod who seemed to get stronger and bigger every time he was seen...
Bodybuilding was definitely the order of the day. He would often play
in and around Exeter and Exmouth with the Oompah Band and rumour has
it his star turn was to perform a little strip tease at the end, which
delighted the ladies no end... and quite a few men apparently too!..
the moustache in those early eighties may have helped!
decided to give up his leave entitlement and opted to attend the eight-week
long ‘All Arms Commando Course’ in 1985, only three ranks
had previously earned their green berets in the whole of the Band Service.
The course officer in command was nonother than his brother Bob... who
looks back fondly at the amount of time he and his brothers’ paths
crossed during their time with the Royal Marines. Rod found the physical
aspects of the course relatively comfortable as he was so fit... however,
he continued to struggle with his time keeping! and Bob performing his
officer duties to the book had to offer suitable punishments... For
Rod it meant carrying the so called Bishops Crook (intended to represent
the size and weight of a rifle but used by chaplains doing the course
since they could not carry weapons). It was a serious badge of shame
for a regular course member... Roo carried it a lot. Despite this he
did exceptionally well, apart from being battered and bruised with weeping
rope scars on his neck and losing his toenails. The considerably leaner
Rod was successful and determinedly earned his coveted green beret...
he was very pleased and proud that he had done it... and done it well.
Rod also took time out to complete the Devizes to Westminster canoe
race... a seriously gruelling event.
qualities were spotted in Rod during this time, but his eyesight wasn’t
perfect, he was headhunted to be an officer with the Gordon Highlanders...
During an interview when he was offered a position. he politely refused
saying if he could not be a Royal Marine officer, he would not be an
officer at all. He wanted to stay with the Royal Marines and remained
doing what he loved... playing in the band. Rod would have made a brilliant
officer and would have gone far as he had all the qualities required.
really was quite an all-round sportsman... excelling in virtually everything
he took part in; he represented the Royal Marines at both rugby and
hockey... and was an incredibly fast cross-country runner... breaking
took the difficult decision to leave the Royal Marines after nine and
half years so he and Anne could take a year out travelling around the
United States and Canada. He’d performed at many high profile
engagements, notably the Charles & Diana’s 1981 Royal Wedding
and many Massed Bands including Horse Guards Parade, Mountbatten Festival
of Music, Royal Tournament, the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance
and the Lord Mayor’s Show… Musician Rod Stewart’s
terminal date was 15th April 1986.
having a famous pop star with the same name was the catalyst for having
his name shortened.. who knows..
However.. whilst living in Las Vegas, Anne lost him in a casino, so
she put out a tannoy call... ”Would Rod Stewart please come to
the front foyer”... around five hundred people, stampeded to the
front of Caesars Palace! cameras were poised as Rod appeared and wondered
what on earth was going on!
When Rod and Anne returned from their North American adventures... they
both moved to Scotland... living in his parents’ caravan in Cromdale
applied and was successful in joining the Metropolitan Police... undertaking
his police training at Wanstead in London, meanwhile Anne took the decision
to return to Exeter to continue with her studies. On the day of his
pass-out from police training in 1988... he was presented with the award
for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Sport and Physical Training’.
For the next two years Rod commuted on his motorbike from London to
Devon whenever possible to spend time with Anne.
Rods’ grandmother, with who he had so much affinity said to him
before she died, that Anne was very special and he should marry her
and not let her get away. Rod promptly posted a letter to Anne asking
if she fancied being Mrs Stewart. Her heart burst when she opened the
letter, but she made him propose again in person the week after just
to make sure!
Following the couples’ four-year romance Rod and Anne were married
at Dunkeld Cathedral on 16th September 1989, which is situated on the
north bank of the River Tay in Scotland. Following their marriage, they
occupied police accommodation in London, before buying their own property
in Richmond Surrey.
PC Stewart was initially based in Brixton, an extremely delicate place
to work given the riots of 1981. There he worked with disadvantaged
and troublesome children, taking them out on mini-bus excursions and
day trips, as part of the Brixton Youth Project and to encourage them
towards a more positive attitude in life. He engaged so much with locals
and young kids with various schemes on Brixton’s Stockwell Park
Estate and it was no coincidence that the crime-rate decreased during
his time there. Rod took part in numerous police operations, riot control
and other major events. He was a highly respected policeman before progressing
to the Metropolitan Police Mounted Branch, a unit consisting of 110
horses and 135 officers, he had no enemies and was very popular with
all his colleagues, a real team player. His qualities amassed in the
Royal Marines stood him in good stead throughout his life. Moving to
the Mounted Branch of the Met was the best career move he ever made...
he loved the job, especially when patrolling his neighbouring Richmond
Park... some guys have all the luck!
Rod hated technology and was a very private person, he refused point
blank to work in any role that involved a desk or a computer!Unsurprisingly...
Rod played rugby for the mounted branch, he also entered the Scottish
Islands Peaks Race representing the branch. This adventure race is for
teams of sailors and fell runners and is held annually on and around
the most beautiful parts of the west coast of Scotland. The race begins
in Oban with a short hill run, then a sail to Salen on Mull, run over
Ben More, sail to Craighouse on Jura, run the Paps, sail to Arran, run
Goat Fell, then sail to Troon. The race would take three to four days
and catered for multihulls, racers, and cruisers. Each team consisted
was seriously injured in a riding accident while training at Imber Court,
the sports club of the Metropolitan Police and as a result he was retired
from the Force in 1999. Following his retirement on medical grounds...
Mr Rod Stewart had a variety of job opportunities... he was employed
in film and TV security with the Corps of Commissionaires, then worked
for London Ambulance. He also had a role delivering hugely expensive
Ferrari’s, Bugatti’s and top of the range Porsche’s
round the country... He tried to convince Anne that it was work...
He finally took up a role as a ‘Cycling Proficiency Instructor’
in London. Due to his passion as a motorcyclist, he was very committed
about the role of road safety for children and was a stickler for rules
of the road and potential danger. Rod was an excellent driver, somehow
every trip on a motorway involved getting quite irrate about drivers
misunderstanding the ‘lane merging rule’ You use both lanes!
remained a motorbike fanatic, especially classic motorbikes... he spent
most of his beer tokens on them! His last pride and joy was a Ducati
Superbike 996. The day he bought it, he went for inaugural eighteen-
mile show off ride to Box Hill where hundreds of keen bikers meet and
admire each other’s bikes, he revved the beast up... in front
of the biker café audience.. all eager eyes were focused on his
superbike, he slowly pulled out of the carpark opened the throttle and
unceremoniously slipped on an oil spill, skidded sideways several metres
into the kerb... Rod busted his shoulder and bruised his ego... the
rider and bike were embarrassingly carted off rather worse for wear,
a shiny new custom painted top of the range Ducati... crumpled on its
first day out!Anne bought him a beautiful sounding Edwards Bass Trombone
for his birthday, to try and rekindle his musical enthusiasm... which
it did. He played regularly with local bands, at local fairs and he
helped raise many thousands of pounds by playing weekly at Charing Cross
Hospital, the last count ten years ago was over £35,000.
to his upbringing... Rod always supported the All Blacks... he collected
every New Zealand shirt throughout the years and watched every sport
he could. He was interested in history... especially military history
and was extremely knowledgeable. He would watch every Mountbatten Festival
of Music, anything on television anywhere in the world that had the
Royal Marines in it, quite often with tears in his eyes...usually playing
his air trombone.
A few months before he died, he was absolutely over the moon to receive
an email out of the blue trying to trace him to attend 3/76 Troops Fortieth
Reunion in the forthcoming October, he was so touched and happy beyond
belief and so looking forward to meeting all his mates again, sadly
he died before he could see them. His favourite saying was “Cheers...
All the best” when he said goodbye... he would have loved to have
had the chance to say that again one last time.
sadly passed away on 13th August 2016, he’d just turned 56 years
old and died suddenly of a heart attack while at home in Richmond. His
funeral service was held on Thursday the 8th September 2016, at a packed
Mortlake Crematorium in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.
Many Royal Marines made it from near and far to attend and members of
3/76 Troop paid tribute with a beautiful white wreath. Rod’s coveted
green beret lay proudly on his coffin, a eulogy was presented by Bob
and a Bugler from Royal Marines Band Portsmouth played an excellent
Last Post and Reveille. The 1984 Mountbatten Concert recording of ‘Soldiers
of the Sea’ that Rod featured in was played as the recessional
music... When the music began... Anne and his children tearfully played
Rods’ famous big bold notes on their air trombones, they turned
round to see his bandmates sitting in the pews behind also playing along
with him with their own air instruments one last time... it was very
Rod was charming, respectful, industrious and brave, he was always very
well mannered, polite and he had time for everyone, always had a twinkle
in his eye and a wide cheeky smile and he genuinely cared. He was always
smart and Immaculately turned out throughout his life, but just ten
minutes later than everyone else!
He was first and foremost a family man, who was a proud and devoted
father to Lauren and Callum (who has joined the Royal Marines Reserves),
they both adored him and he managed to live long enough to see them
both grow into remarkable adults. He was a wonderful, loyal, supportive
and loving husband of twenty-seven years to Anne, he possessed a heart
of solid gold and was quite simply an outstanding human being who was
taken far too soon.
RIP Rod...“Cheers... All the Best”