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Leeds Castle Classical Concert in Maidstone with a 900 years fanfare and tribute to Royal Marines

If flag waving were made an Olympic sport, then thousands of people at Leeds Castle's classical concert last night could call themselves proud Olympians.

The sea of Union Jacks raised high above the crowd as they joined in with the musical entertainment made the event all the more special.

And one man, Matthew Verrall, encapsulated the night, waving his two flags above his head so enthusiastically that he was invited up on stage joining in with the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth.

Matthew Verrall had the honour of dancing on the stage Picture: John Westhrop
Matthew Verrall had the honour of dancing on the stage Picture: John Westhrop

The evening was a night of anniversaries. Marking the 900th year of the castle, there was a gold 900 selfie spot, with the picturesque castle as a backdrop, which was taken full advantage of by many concertgoers throughout the night.

A 900 selfie at the Leeds Castle Classical Concert. Picture: John Westhrop
A 900 selfie at the Leeds Castle Classical Concert. Picture: John Westhrop

Also marking the anniversary, in the concert's 41st year at Leeds Castle near Maidstone, was the first official performance of the Tribute to Leeds Castle, its first commissioned fanfare by composer Tom Hodge, which proved to have a particularly rousing crescendo.

George Gissing sings Picture: John Westhrop
George Gissing sings Picture: John Westhrop

This year was also special as two pieces were played marking 30 years since the IRA's bomb was detonated at the Walmer Barracks on September 22, killing 11 bandsmen. However, they were far from sombre and included Europe's The Final Countdown with a guitar solo. The anniversary will also be marked in Deal today.

From left, Jamie Gibson and his brother, Dale with Kelly Hamilton and Marie Gibson at Leeds Castle Classical Concert.Picture: John Westhrop
From left, Jamie Gibson and his brother, Dale with Kelly Hamilton and Marie Gibson at Leeds Castle Classical Concert.Picture: John Westhrop

Soloists, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted and compered expertly by John Rigby, taking to the stage were Alwyn Mellor and Louise Dearman, with Oliver Tompsett and rising tenor star Nicky Spence. One of the highlights included Alwyn and Oliver teaming up for Barcelona. It took a few minutes for Oliver to get into Freddie Mercury's role, but once he was there it was electrifying.

From left, Suzanne Lake and Kelly Lywood, from Sittingbourne in union jack dresses at Leeds Castle Classical Concert. Picture: John Westhrop
From left, Suzanne Lake and Kelly Lywood, from Sittingbourne in union jack dresses at Leeds Castle Classical Concert. Picture: John Westhrop

The other, for me, was Nicky Spence's performance of Nessun Dorma. It was his first year at the event and, after our initial disappointment that last year's Alexander James Edwards wasn't back, we were left thoroughly approving of Nicky.

Leeds Castle Classical Concert enjoyed balmy weather
Leeds Castle Classical Concert enjoyed balmy weather

As ever, the night brought picnics, a party atmosphere and, fabulously, perfect weather, along with an ever-breathtaking Spitfire flypast and the finale of field guns and fireworks.

The castle may be 900 years old, but its place in the hearts of Maidstonians as a summer highlight makes it as modern a marvel as ever.

To find out what’s going on in the county and for all the latest entertainment news click here.

Leeds Castle Classical Concert's fireworks finale
Leeds Castle Classical Concert's fireworks finale

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