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Royal Marines Bands Portsmouth and Collingwood give 25th anniversary concert, remembering the IRA bomb in Deal, Kent

By Beth Robson

The threat of rain did not deter thousands of spectators who turned out to see the Royal Marines Bands Portsmouth and Collingwood return to Deal.

More than 10,000 pitched up on Walmer Green on Sunday - some from as early as 7.30am - to see the 25th anniversary concert of the IRA bomb in 1989, and to pay tribute to the 11 young bandsmen who were killed in the atrocity.

A flawless performance was enjoyed by the people of Deal.

Umbrellas and plastic macs were at the ready, and they made a prompt appearance when the rain started. But stoic supporters stood firm and the rain cleared up in time for the pre-concert entertainment from Deal Air Training Corps, the Sea Cadets Corps and the Victory Wartime Band, featuring forces sweetheart Kelly-Ann Sproul.

Umbrellas and rain macs came out when the rain started

Royal Marine Band Portsmouth started the concert from Deal Memorial Bandstand, launching in with film theme Avengers Assemble under the expert direction of Lt Col Nick Grace. Other highlights included a stunning Michael Buble-esq performance of Mr Bojangles by Cpl Bug John Sumner followed by a duet of The Lady is a Tramp with Musn Ellie Lomas.

Cpl Bug John Sumner sings Mr Bojangles

The march of Royal Marines Band Collingwood saw the band process from the drill field through the memorial garden off Canada Road, along Halliday Drive in Cavalry Barracks and through the iconic jubilee gates before processing, like the Deal band had so many times before, along The Strand. The musicians joined Portsmouth Band at the bandstand for quick marches and an impressive Corps of Drums Display.

The 11 bandsmen killed in the bombing were remembered in the re-dedication of the bandstand and prayers by the Rev Seth Cooper followed by the history of the Royal Marines to music to mark the 350th anniversary of the armed service.

Admiral the Lord Boyce Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and other dignitaries from local councils joined bereaved family members in the laying of wreaths and floral arrangements.

Deal and Dover MP Charlie Elphicke said: "They really are amazing. The sun came out at just the right time. There is no other band like the Royal marines."

For the full story, pictures and interviews with the band members, see Thursday's East Kent Mercury.

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