On the 27th May 2023 a party of 43 people set off from Lydbrook to visit Belgium as part of the band’s centenary celebrations.
Based in Blankenberge, the band’s first concert was in the wonderful St. Michaels Church in Gent, where the band were made very welcome by an appreciative audience. A varied programme of music was performed which included “Shadow Cast by the Sun” written by the band’s composer-in-residence Liz Lane. Solos were played by Phil Turner, Anna Conroy, Les and Marie Pearse and Emily Dodsworth and the band was conducted by their musical director Gareth Ritter.
Monday 29th May was a memorable and emotional day for the band which started with a visit to Tyne Cot Cemetery where the band played and paid their respects to those who had made the ultimate sacrifice. Tyne Cot has over 11,000 graves, 8,000 of which are unknown soldiers from WW1. The band followed this with a visit to Ypres to give an afternoon concert in the Grote Market. In the evening the band had been invited to take part in the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate where they played the hymn tune St Ann, The British Legion March and during the wreath laying ceremony, Only in Sleep. All the band members were very touched by the ceremony and those few minutes at the Menin Gate will be remembered by all for many years to come. At Tyne Cot and the Menin Gate the band were joined by the Chairman and Standard Bearer from the Lydbrook Branch of the Royal British Legion.
Tuesday saw the final concert of the tour at the Astridpark Bandstand in Brugge and the final evening was spent enjoying a meal together in a local Italian restaurant where the tour awards were presented.
All in all, another fantastic tour was enjoyed by everyone, the band’s 8th in the past 24 years. This followed previous tours to South Africa and Zimbabwe, Lithuania and Latvia, Holland, Poland, Hungary and twice to Spain.