Royal Gibraltar Regiment Band visits Falkland Islands
Ten members of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment Band travelled to the Falkland Islands for Exercise Tiger Island, where they would join forces with the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment Band (PWRR) and deliver musical support on behalf of 3PWRR whilst their battalion were deployed.
After travelling to RAF Brize Norton on January 15, the band met the other 20 musicians who would make up a large band comprised of four different regiments’ (Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, Royal Gibraltar Regiment, Honourable Artillery Company and Royal Artillery) musicians.
After a 16-hour flight to Mount Pleasant in the Falklands, the band settled into their accommodation, had a tour of the complex and gained some much needed sleep.
Spreading the Music
With a population of approximately 3,500 in the whole of the Falkland Islands, it’s no surprise that Mount Pleasant Primary School had only 24 students. There, the children were introduced to the instruments in the band and joined the band in marching around the school hall.
The PWRR band prepared an entertaining and interactive performance of the ‘Music Man’, consisting of costumes such as bagpiper, pilot and footballer to entertained their 3 to 10-year-old audience.
Friday evening saw the band performing at Mount Pleasant theatre. Adjoined to the complex’s bar, the theatre that usually sits silent, was brought to life by the band, accompanied by the Military Wives Choir who sung Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’ and Gary Barlow’s ‘Sing’ (which was originally sung by a Military Wives Choir to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II).
The show was attended by serving military personnel and their family members.
The band was not restricted to the base, however and one afternoon saw them on a visit to the coast at Yorke Bay, Stanley View and Gypsy Cove.
There, they witnessed penguins on the beaches and in their burrows, a wooden walkway guided the bandmembers through the grassland which was dotted with the local teaberry shrubs.
With most beaches inaccessible to vehicles, the band took a 14km hike to Bertha’s Beach to view the local wildlife, King penguins, Gentoo penguins, sea lions and porpoises.
It was here that some of the braver musicians took a dip in the South Atlantic Ocean carrying the Gibraltar flag.
Some members of the band went on a tour of the war memorials at San Carlos cemetery and Goose Green. The San Carlos cemetery holds the remains of fourteen of the 255 British casualties killed during the Falklands War in 1982.
The band signed a band t-shirt which was put on display in the Goose Green Café, which is the only cafe for miles around, alongside those of other visiting battalions and regiments.
On Saturday, the band travelled for one hour to the town hall in the capital, Stanley, to perform another concert with the choir. Over 300 people attended, with the audience treated to well-known music from James Bond, Frank Sinatra, Out of Africa and the concert ended with a very proudly sung National Anthem.
The locals created a very homely feel to the concert, with homemade snacks and cakes which were in the interval.
The band returned to Stanley the following day for lunch at the welcoming Malvinas House Hotel.
Some of the band opted to try the locally caught toothfish, which tastes similar to ling or ‘rosada’, and Happy Birthday was sung to WO2 Bandmaster Tom Rundle-Wood along with the presentation of a locally made birthday cake.
Despite the cold winds, the band marched in full uniform to a nearby jetty for a photograph in front of a ‘Welcome to the Falkland Islands’ sign before performing to the local crowd outside Christ Church Cathedral.
It was here that some young children took the baton from the Director of Music, Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Hopla, and conducted the band.
But, soon afterwards, it was time for the band to warm up and perform inside the cathedral for some jazz, pop and music from the movies.
With the schedule of performances complete, it was time for the band to pack away gear and souvenirs and prepare for the long flight home.
But not before they participated in a bowling tournament on their last night, with mixed teams from all four regiments and a display of varying styles of bowling.
A spokesperson from the Regiment described it as “a great tour, with a strong sense of teamwork, bound by the love of music.”