Earlier in the year Stephen Stewart, a former sea cadet from Hebburn, South Tyneside and now residing in Dublin, whilst looking through some old cadet photos, decided to set up a TS Kelly Facebook page
He was soon joined by a number of ex-cadets, three of whom had become Durham Freemasons, namely: David Berry and Kenny Dodds, both of Heabrym Lodge No. 7201, Colin Bone of Palmer Lodge No. 9255 and George Sanger who practices his Freemasonry in the Province of Northumberland as a member of Lodge of Swinburne No. 2680
As youngsters, all of the brethren had been proud members of the 6th Hebburn Sea Cadets between 1965 and 1977. It was not long before the group began posting and sharing old photos, most of which were about the Drum and Bugle Band that had won many competitions.
The cadets’ chairman, when planning the 80th anniversary of the unit, called upon Davy Hanson to muster a band and perform at the event. Davy, having been the bandmaster during the 60s and 70s, had fond memories of his young charges winning many tournaments.
At band practice he began to impress on the young cadets that, 'his old lads listened and took notice' and 'his old lads could play in time' etc. This led to one young cadet piping up: 'If your old lads were that good, get them together and we’ll have a competition at the 80th anniversary.'
The gauntlet having been thrown down, Davy took up the challenge, responding with: 'It’s a deal, young man!', whilst rushing to inform his partner, Gillian, and immediately making contact with the lads on the Facebook group.
Many phone calls and knocking on doors took place and, one by one, the Veterans Band was reformed, taking shape only 3 months before the anniversary was due. Many of the members had left the area and had to commute considerable distances to attend rehearsals at the TS Kelly Unit, located on the south side of the River Tyne. The Band of Brothers, under the direction of Davy Hanson, began to hone their musical talents and, after 10 lengthy rehearsals, were finally ready for the big day.
Hard work came to fruition later in the year, when young and old cadet band members were joined by their families to commemorate the 80 years of TS Kelly. The event was a great success, with 200 visitors attending, raising considerable funds for the Unit.
At the sound of a bugle, the crowd encircled the parade area to observe the greatly anticipated competition between young and old; the rivalry was intense!
The Young Pretenders Band took to the parade area first, giving a tremendous display and racking up the pressure on the old guard to perform well. To rapturous applause, the Veterans paraded in, immaculately dressed in polo shirts, caps and smelling of Old Spice, performing the drills they had worked so hard to perfect. On completion of an equally polished presentation, the judges retired to consider both performances, as the families waited in anticipation for the winning band to be announced. After much deliberation a honourable draw was declared!
The Veterans Band enjoyed the reunion so much that they now meet once a month to rehearse and have been requested by the Royal British Legion to attend Civic commemorations at Hebburn and Jarrow Cenotaphs, including the Armistice Day parade.