Members of the Melton Marching Band will perform at a special celebration

Mainstays of the Melton Toy Soldiers marching band Brian Gordon (left) and Andy Harrison

Banding Together, which will take place in Derby, has been set up to revive the days when over 100 carnival bands performed at festivals and parties across the East Midlands.

Brian Gordon, who played trumpet with the Melton Mowbray Toy Soldiers for 67 years, will be there with Andy Harrison, a trombone in the Melton Tally Ho Carnival Band as a child and also a mainstay of the Toy Soldiers.

The event, which is also a fundraiser for a planned film based on the golden age of the marching band, will feature live music by band members and a giant movie screen showing images of records of them in action in years past.

Melton Toy Soldiers performing in the United States in 1986

Brian tried to join the Toy Soldiers when he was just nine years old, but was turned down because he was too small to carry a drum before joining the following year.

He recalls: “I remember starting out with the cymbals because they were light enough for me to wear when I was 10.

“Then I kept playing side drums, and when the band started to run out of trumpeters, I started on that.

“The banding movement was great for teaching discipline.

Actor David Chabeaux, who organizes the Band Together event and is preparing a film about the marching bands

“You haven’t gotten a lot of kids involved in trouble with the police.

“It instilled camaraderie and gave the young people something to do and something to do two or three times a week.”

Brian will perform at the event with the Toy Soldiers alongside Andy, who was a member for three decades until 2020.

Andy, who started in the Tally Ho’s as a child, met his wife, Keeley, after joining the Toy Soldiers as a teenager.

Melton Toy Soldiers line up for a photo

The special event, which will take place at Borrowash Victoria Football Club on July 24, was hosted by actor David Chabeaux, who grew up in the Derby Serenaders marching band, playing under his grandfather, ‘Moz’ Ward .

David, a star of Peaky Blinders and Netflix horror drama Red Rose, is the man behind the band film, which will be titled Moz’s Band in honor of his grandfather.

“The loss of the carnival banding movement is felt very keenly by many people across the East Midlands, David said.

“It provided a sense of belonging and togetherness that I feel like I’ve lost in today’s society where it seems everyone has become very disconnected, and it can be difficult for different generations to bond as they did before.

Toy Soldiers during a practice jamming session

“I really hope that many people can attend our Banding Together day to learn more about what the movement was all about and also enjoy a spectacular and fun afternoon.”

The other attractions of the event, besides the bands performing, will be a carnival with stalls, stalls, inflatables, a beer tent and foot football. There will also be a parade of vintage band uniforms, live music and a raffle, culminating in an ‘old fashioned’ disco with outdoor dance floor.

Tickets for Banding Together are available online at www.mozs.band/tickets or by calling 07437 160832. A £7 early bird ticket is available until the end of this month, with tickets costing £10 thereafter, with under-12s entering free.

The iconic Melton Toy Soldiers uniform
Members of Melton Toy Soldiers photographed in 1988

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