Poignant memories of bandsmen

On the 20th July 1982, I was just a 10 year old boy playing outside my nan’s house, near Worksop when a police car pulled up and two officers got out.

Although we were living in Antrim at the time, we had come over to England to stay with my nan while dad who was a bandsman with 1RGJ performed a number of ceremonial duties and concerts around the UK. On this particular day he was playing a concert on the bandstand in Regents Park. As the police officers left my nan’s house, I had no idea that they had just told mum that the bandstand on which dad was playing had been blown up and they believed dad was one of the dead.

Due to the horrific injuries his body needed to be formally identified but they had found his ID card in his tunic pocket. It was only a couple of hours later that she received a second visit to tell us that it was not him. Probably the longest two hours of mum’s life.

Dad had been blown clear of the bandstand and landed next to what was left of one of his friends. He had removed his own tattered jacket and laid it over the body before passing out from his own injuries and being taken to hospital unconscious. In the confusion the jacket was removed with the body and dad was not identifiable until he came to. As it turned out dad was one of the lucky ones, even though it ended his career, and he had to fight a long time to get compensation. Seven of his friends were not so lucky and many more received life changing injuries.

Dad has returned to the bandstand each July since that tragic day and this year is the 30th Anniversary.

If you’re in London on the 20th July and want to show your respect to those who lost their lives that day both at Regents Park and Hyde Park come along and join us at the bandstand in Regents Park on the Friday morning.


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