Leeds Castle 2010
Leeds Castle and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Summer Spectacular
The Garrison was asked to provide three guns for this world-renowned prestigious event held in the grounds of the beautiful Leeds Castle in Kent.
This was the first official gathering of The Garrison members wearing the new Garrison dress uniform of Royal Artillery patrol blues and coloured field service caps; a uniform worn at ceremonial and commemorative events in place of WW2 battledress.
Regaled in this fine uniform, we took post and at 1545 hrs fired a salvo from the guns to open the event and allow the 20,000+ audience access to the grounds to pick their place on the grassy hill with fine views of the castle and stage (and us next to the stage).
The afternoon performance started extremely well with an hour of military and popular music played by the fantastic Brigade of Gurkha's Band. This was followed by West End musical songs from the shows and then at 1845hrs we again took post for a Sunset ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The audience hushed and listened as a choirboy sang from the castle battlements and then to a lone piper, the Union Flag was lowered as The Garrison and Brigade of Gurkhas saluted and remembered those lost during the Battle of Britain. The orchestra then moved into Spitfire Prelude, a very atmospheric piece; the unmistakable sound of a Merlin engine then pierced the skies as a Spitfire skimmed over the castle and performed an immaculate and graceful display over the grounds and stage area, swiftly followed by a Hurricane flying to the Royal Air Force Marchpast; a nostalgic, emotional and heart-warming display.
The whole event was electric with glorious summer weather, beautiful patriotic music, fine views and a wonderful family atmosphere; everyone enjoyed themselves immensely.
Then as evening came, our main role of the event then approached as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra upped the tempo and performed Pomp and Circumstance, Land of Hope and Glory and all the well known 'Proms' pieces; a flag waving, cheering audience was mightily impressed. The finale was the ever popular 1812 Overture; this time with real guns performing the role of Napoleonic canon!
The music, lights, and sounds merged with 'gunfire' fireworks, and building up in tempo and volume The Garrison 25-pounders under the direction of the conductor cannoned in and fired salvo after salvo in time with one of the greatest pieces of music ever written being played by the greatest orchestra in the world; what a night!
The troops of The Garrison were held in very high esteem by the grateful audience, some saying the guns made their night, others saying we were extremely professional and that they'd love to see us in action again .... here's to a long relationship with Leeds Castle and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra ....... Encore, Encore!!!