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Music director former Royal Marine David Cole picks up Bafta for Festival of Remembrance

By Marijke Hall

A leading musical director and former Royal Marine has scooped a coveted Bafta award for his work commemorating those who have died in conflicts.

David Cole, from Kingsdown, and his colleagues Bernie Davis, Kevin Duff and Patrick Doherty were handed the gong for their efforts on the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance 2016.

The annual event at the Royal Albert Hall, produced by the BBC, pays tribute to fallen soldiers and Mr Cole has written the music for the past 11 years, which is played over emotional film clips and narrative.

Bernie Davis, David Cole, Kevin Duff, Patrick Doherty who won the BAFTA for Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance 2016. Picture supplied by BAFTA

This year, the production was up against top TV shows Strictly Come Dancing and Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway as well as The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebrations.

All were in the running for Bafta’s Entertainment Craft Team award.

“We absolutely did not think we would win,” said Mr Cole.

“We thought we didn’t have a cat in hell’s chance – we’re not an entertainment show and we were up against big TV programmes and also the Queen’s 90th celebrations.

“We hadn’t even prepared a speech and we were all saying ‘you should do it’ ‘you do it’ when we won, but I ended up doing it off the top of my head.

“I spoke all about the Royal British Legion and how it looks after the country, how we run and why it is so important.”

Capt David Cole, Royal Marines retired who picked up the BAFTA for the Festival of Remembrance held at the Royal Albert Hall

The 68-year-old, who is musical director of the Central Band of the Royal British Legion, says he was sitting among top people in the television industry at the event in London on April 23.

“We’ve got the best TV here; these people are brilliant at what they do,” he said.

“I don’t see myself as the same, I just see myself as doing a job.”

Mr Cole, of Glen Road, found his love of music at the tender age of eight when he joined the Salvation Army and attended summer camps at the London Schools Symphony Orchestra.

When he was 18 he joined the Royal Marines School of Music in Deal in 1967 and served in the Royal Marines for 32 years.

He was commissioned in 1980 and became an officer and director of music before later getting a job on the Royal Yacht Britannia as musical director for the Queen during state events.

After retiring, he became head of music at Wellesley House School in Broadstairs for seven years until he got the job at the Central Band of the Royal British Legion 11 years ago.

“I’ve been doing the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance for the same amount of time, but this year it was particularly special,” he added.

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