With Helston Town Band yet to appoint a new musical director, the question on everyone’s lips is: Who will lead the band on Flora Day?
Traditionally the MD has one of the most prominent roles, effectively leading the dance as he (or she) walks in front of the band, which is then followed by the mayor and dancers. Last year marked the final Flora Day for former MD John Hitchens, who stepped down after ten years.
Since the resignation of his replacement Derek Johnston in January, after less than seven months in post, the band has been without a full time leader ever since, and although there are whispers of some “exciting upcoming news” on this matter in the not-too-distant future, for now it leaves the band open to do something a little different this year.
It means not one but three people will lead the band over the course of Flora Day – two veterans and chairman Alan Trewella.
It will be a particularly poignant occasion for Mr Trewella, who after being an integral part of the organisation for many years has decided that he will be stepping down from his role as chairman at the next annual general meeting.
As a token of appreciation for all his hard work the band have invited him to lead the way on Flora Day, accompanied by band veterans Russell Harvey in the Morning Dance and Lester Ashton for the Children’s and Midday dances.
For Mr Harvey, who turns 80 years old this year and has been a band member for 70 of them, this will be his 68th Flora Day of playing. Between him, his brother, his son and grandchildren the Harvey family have completed 157 Flora Days between them.
Mr Ashton leading the band continues a family tradition, as his father Edward was a past musical director and led the band for the event for 30 years. Mr Ashton himself has been involved in Flora Day festivities for nearly half a century.
He said: “As a Helstonian Flora Day is obviously very special to me. To wear the famous blue jacket on the big day is fantastic, to have led the midday in 1983 was a great honour and to now have the opportunity to walk in front of the band this year will be a great privilege, am experience I could only have dreamt of.”
The final dance of the day, at 5pm, will be led by the musical director of the concert band, Ian Edwards.
The band has paid tribute to bandmaster Kevin Johns, who has opted to play rather than lead the band from the front, despite putting in a huge amount of time, effort and hard work while the band has been between musical directors.