Musical Director Mark 'Fritz' Whiteman
I first learnt to play a musical instrument at the age of 9, this being a trumpet. My father was in the HM Forces (7RHA), so I travelled around a lot. This was quite nice as I got to live in places like Hong Kong and Germany, where I discovered there was always a Military Band around so I used to con lessons from them. The music and sound that they produced was wonderful and from an early age I knew that this was what I wanted to do. I joined the Army in September 1978 as a Junior Bandsman, saw a saxophone and fell in love with the fantastic sounds it produced.
After two years I attended Kneller Hall, which is The Royal Military School of Music. Here I completed a years studying with some of the best saxophone players in the country, it was a hard but good year which gave me a very solid grounding for my musical career in the Army. I have been back to Kneller Hall on many occasions in my career for the Band Sergeant and Band Sergeant Majors Courses, also to play as part of the guest band on the well known Rock. I love playing music so people can hear it and hopefully give them some sort of enjoyment from it.
So from my 30 odd years experience, I would like to pass some of it on by teaching anyone who would like to learn, young or old, its never to late to learn. Throughout my Army career I have had a wonderful time. I left the HM Armed Forces in May 2004, after completing 24 years service. I had been coming to the band for some time and was asked to take on the role of Woodwind Instructor which has given me great pleasure.
In December 2004 I was appointed as the Assistant Musical Director, and I look forward to the future with the girls and boys of The Royal British Legion Band & Corps of Drums, Romford.
In May 2006 Mark was promoted to Musical Director after Mr. Stuart Walker was posted to Edinburgh to join The Royal Highland Regiment.
Musical Director WO1 (BM) Esther Hayes
WO1 Esther Hayes was born in Coventry and started her musical career learning the flute and piano. She went onto further her musical skills at Rugby Music College playing in small ensembles. After pursuing a double Music A Level at North Warwickshire College she started a music degree course at Wolverhampton University. Shortly after this, she had her first experience with the forces and joined the Volunteer Warwickshire Band of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
After three years of service and completion of a music degree she applied for the Army Music bursary scheme and started Phase 1 Training at Winchester in 1998. After completing Phase 2 training at the Royal Military School of Music and she then went on to be posted to the Band of the Royal Corps of Signals, based in Blandford, Dorset.
After three years with the Royal Signals, WO1 Hayes gained entry onto the Bandmasters course at the Royal Military School of Music. In 2006, having completed three years of study she completed the course, achieving a music degree. Her first posting as a Bandmaster was the Band of The Parachute Regiment based in Colchester as the first Female Bandmaster. Here, she spent three busy, but enjoyable years, completing tours of Canada, Cyprus and Germany. It was during her time in Essex where she first met The Royal British Legion Band and Corps of Drums, Romford and now enjoys regularly instructing the band as one of their Musical Directors and assisting in preparation for concerts and contests.
In 2011, Esther became the first female bandmaster in the history of the Bands of the Household Cavalry, when she became the Bandmaster of the Band of the Life Guards. You can read about her appointment on www.gov.uk here