June 2022 saw the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment set out on tour to Cyprus.
The first of 5 engagements saw the Band perform a Royal garden party to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, hosted by the British High Commissioner to Cyprus (Stephen Lillie) at his residence in Nicosia. The Earl and Countess of Wessex, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie were in attendance, as well as President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades. The Band performed a fanfare for the arrival of the Royal party, followed by both the UK and Cypriot National Anthems before entertaining the guests for the evening with a range of lighter repertoire, from ‘Abba’ to ‘Wicked’ the musical.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex were also in attendance later in the tour to continue the celebrations for Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee at a cocktail party in the beautiful surroundings of Flagstaff House, the residence of the Commander of British Forces Cyprus (CBF), Major-General Robert Thomson CBE DSO.
The brass quintet performed in the presence of the Royals, British diplomats and members of British Forces Cyprus. During the party they played a selection of light music and well-known tunes, followed by a Sunset Ceremony, flawlessly performed by Principal Trumpet Corporal Benjamin Murray. This was also Sergeant Matthew Edwardson’s final performance with the brass quintet, following his recent promotion. He now hands over to Air Specialist (Class 1) (AS1) James Richardson.
Day 5 of the tour saw the Jazz Ensemble entertain a younger audience at the Akrotiri Primary School. The 6-piece ensemble was led by Corporal Malcolm Knapp and performed songs such as ‘The Music of the Star Wars Cantina Band’, ‘Monsters inc.’ and the children’s favourite ‘We Don’t Talk about Bruno’. All these arrangements were created by members of the ensemble; it was not a coincidence, therefore, that there was a bass solo in one of the pieces by bass player Air Specialist 1 Chris Bujok! The engagement with the school pupils was fantastic and the school faculty were really pleased to have a live band come in all the way from the United Kingdom.
The Band of the RAF Regiment were then invited to return to Flagstaff House, this time in its entirety, to provide the music for a commendation ceremony hosted by the CBF. Due to a backlog of awards during the COVID-19 Pandemic, two ceremonies were held in order to make all the presentations. These included the Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct amongst other awards personnel had been nominated for within their Sections. The Band played music as the guests arrived, sounded a fanfare for the arrival of the CBF and then entertained the guests with background music once the ceremonies had concluded.
The final engagement of the tour involved performing at the Limassol Wind Orchestra Festival. With the backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea, the Band marched along the seafront in their Ceremonial Whites to the tune of ‘Blue Devils.' Forming a horseshoe, the band entertained the audience with some of their static pieces including music from ‘Frozen’ and ‘Hairspray’. After being thanked by the audience and local officials, the Band marched back along the seafront to the RAF March Past, bringing the tour to an end.
During their spare time, members of the Band opted to partake in various activities including go karting, scuba diving, a day trip to the water park, hiking in the Troodos mountains, sea swimming and volleyball. Corporal Joe Kemp deserves a special mention, playing for RAF Akrotiri’s station volleyball team and winning the tournament on Armed Forces Day.