Denis J Ovenden LRSM, RM
Denis Ovenden along with John Stone, Stan Wilkinson, Ken Kelley, Ray West, Jim Mason, myself - and seventeen others were all members of the RM Band on HMS Glasgow. Flag Ship of Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten in the Med 1952-54, and also the first sea going band to be stationed ashore at HMS Phoenicia on Manoel Island in 1953. Denis and I were very good mates and somehow managed to find somewhere in the bowels of the Glasgow when at sea (which was quite frequently) to practice and we used Denis’s Jancourt Bassoon duet book. Obviously he played the top part and I struggled with the second. Den would usually stand behind me, music on the stand and I could just about manage to use about three quarters of my Cello bow! as we both tried to make some kind of music. Denis and I were obviously very good mates and even went to our first Opera ‘Madame Butterfly’ together when visiting Naples, and when stationed ashore on Manoel Island we with help of a Naval Petty Officer set up a radio system so that we could listen to broadcasts of classical concerts from Italy. We along with Ray West were involved in music making in the Governors Residence – usually with other local musicians involved in chamber music.
Back in the UK in 55-56 we were both in and around the Deal RM Concert season now that Vivian Dunn was in charge and we both also played for various Operatic Societies in Kent. Dover was the nearest and that’s where we both met and married our future wives. Maisie, Denis’s lovely bride was unfortunately shunned by her family so I became both best man and witness when they got married. We obviously went our separate ways throughout our RM careers but were always keen to meet up whenever we could during that time. After RM careers we both taught in private schools – Denis at Sevenoaks and myself as Bandmaster at Christ’s Hospital in Sussex. We met as often as possible even though he and Maisie had retired to Scotland and later near Preston. Our last meeting was at the Plough Inn gathering last August and although weak in the legs he was on very good form, so it has been a great shock to lose him at this very sad time. RIP my very dearest friend Denis......Michael Hutton.