A tuba-tooting army reservist from Helston who grew up playing in the town band has ben travelling to far-flung destinations with a group of army musicians.
The Army Reserve has said it wishes to to recruit more people like Nathan Tootill, to play with a new Cornwall-based detachment of the Salamanca Band and Bugles of The Rifles.
Nathan plays with the rank of musician, having begun his music career at the age of seven, learning the tenor horn in the Helston Town Band. He is also a support worker in a local residential home for children and adults with learning disabilities.
He said: “It’s great to travel to so many different places – and getting paid to enjoy your hobby. I’ve been to Dubai, Bermuda, Georgia, Armenia – and more recently, Denmark.
“You can also do kayaking and other adventure training courses through the army, as well as fitness.”
With a wide-ranging repertoire of military, classical, film and musicals, ‘big band’, rock and pop music, there are opportunities for people of grade five standard, who can play woodwind, brass, percussion or bugle.
Not just a marching group, the Salamanca Band offer within their ranks a big band, concert band, jazz band, a pop group and smaller woodwind and brass ensembles.
Nathan graduated from University College Falmouth with a BA honours in music in 2013 and has achieved grade seven as a musician. He is the principal tuba seat in the Helston Town Band and also plays with the HMS Seahawk volunteer band based at RNAS Culdrose and the Gweek silver band.
He added: “The tuba is the biggest instrument but also the most important, for keeping the rhythm. If there’s no tuba the music sounds quite bare. You need more air to play it than a trumpet – and good lungs.”
Salamanca Band Sergeant Major Sandra Davies said: “We’re not looking to take people away from their local band. As Nathan has found, this is just another opportunity to enjoy your music at another level – and to travel.”
There is a minimum of basic training which recognises that members of the Salamanca Band are being recruited as musicians rather than combat soldiers. Yet there are the same opportunities for adventurous training, such as sailing, skiing and mountain trekking.
The commitment is 27 days a year and recruits are paid for the time they spend rehearsing, along with travel expenses. They receive £1,000 on completing phase one training and the same again on passing phase two. Service with the Army Reserve is now pensionable, with holiday pay.
The Band and Bugles has its headquarters at Wyvern Barracks in Exeter but the Cornwall detachment will also be rehearsing in Truro every Wednesday evening (7.30 – 9.30pm) and on certain weekends.
The band is holding an open weekend at Truro Army Reserve Centre on September 3 and 4.
Enlistment is through an audition. Call 07795 284083 for more information.