After 30 continuous years’ service as a member of the trombone section of Chichester City Band, Don Webb will formally retire at the band’s Christmas concert in St Paul’s Church, Chichester on December 14.
Don said: “I have enjoyed 30 years of lovely music-making with the band. I had the chance to play in four national finals: 1995 Wembley, 1996 Cardiff, 1997 Birmingham and Cheltenham in 2018. At Cardiff we achieved our best-ever result in a National Finals with third place.
“I have only ever played in two bands. In 1958 when I got called up for national service, I played in the Regimental Band of the 10th Royal Hussars (PWO) for two years. I never joined a band when I was demobbed, but I began playing again when I started teaching my sons Kevin (trombone) and Martin (trumpet and cornet). We would often play at Easter and Christmas in Chidham Parish Church. After several years of persuasion from friends and family, I joined Chichester City Band in January 1989. I have never wanted to play for any other band and always feel very proud when we play Sussex by the Sea.
“I am not saying farewell to all my lovely friends in the band, but I am retiring as a playing member. However, I will still have contact with them as I was made life vice president in 2012.”
Don will continue to attend concerts, contests and other events to support the band and to support Martin, who continues to be a member of the cornet section.
“It has been nice playing lovely music with the band for the last 30 years. But since my arthritis I have got a mobility problem. When we have a band engagement, if it wasn’t for Martin, I could not get there. He is like my roadie. I discussed it all with both of my sons and they said ‘We think it is time for you to retire, dad’, and they are right. I lost my wife five years ago, and I think she would be saying ‘Donald, it is time for you to hang up your trombone!’
“I realised a few years ago that my lungs and my body wouldn’t be able to cope with it, but I am definitely not stopping music altogether. I have taken up the ukulele and play in three ukulele groups. I couldn’t imagine no music at all, plus I am life vice president of the band.”
Don recalls: “I did my apprenticeship and then was coming up to national service. I thought I would go into REME but in The Melody Maker, they were advertising for bandsmen. I started teaching myself the trombone when I was 19 and I hard-necked it and wrote to them.
“When I got called up in June 1958, they said ‘You will be sent to Catterick for your basic training.’ When you come from a home environment, with your mum and dad doing all sorts of things for you, it is quite a shock when you are suddenly in the army and get sent to Catterick.
“It was the toughest place you could go. Even the hardest guys were all ‘Dear mum, please come and get me!’”
After national service, Don got married and had children and he stopped playing for a while.
“But then one day, I was up in the loft and found my instrument and blew a few notes. Kevin was seven at the time and he was shouting ‘Bring it down! Bring it down!’ He said he wanted to learn and I started teaching him.
“I started Martin on the trumpet and Kevin said ‘Dad, you really should join a band’, and that’s when I joined the city band.”
Don’s final concert takes place at St Paul’s Church, Churchside, Chichester on Friday, December 14, starting at 7.30pm. Admission (including interval refreshments) is £10, concessions £8 and free for children accompanied by a paying ticket holder. Tickets can be reserved in advance by contacting email@example.com or can be bought on the door.