Tributes hail Long Melford bandmaster as inspiration to young musicians

Tony Martin (pictured front and centre) with the Long Melford Silver Band.
Tony Martin (pictured front and centre) with the Long Melford Silver Band.

Tributes to the long-serving bandmaster of Long Melford Silver Band have described him as the “life and soul” of the group and an inspiration to young musicians.

Tony Martin died in the early hours of Friday, October 13, aged 79.

Tony Martin (pictured front and centre) with the Long Melford Silver Band.

Tony Martin (pictured front and centre) with the Long Melford Silver Band.

He joined the band in 2002 and became the bandmaster a year later, continuing to conduct the musicians until his death.

In recent years, he developed a training band in Long Melford, where he worked hard to teach youngsters to play brass instruments. He is credited with helping several children to pass their graded exams set by the Royal School of Music.

A statement from the Long Melford Silver Band said: “Tony rarely missed a rehearsal, which showed his true commitment to the band – it was a huge part of his life.

“He would always have a smile on his face, especially at concerts when cracking jokes, which became a tradition at any concert we played.

“Many happy memories were made with Tony during his time at Long Melford, which will never be forgotten. Tony was the life and soul of Long Melford Silver Band and will be forever in our thoughts.”

Tony started his banding career back in 1947, aged 10, when he played the baritone and later the bass trombone in the Dalston Central Band, where he was later appointed bandmaster in 1963.

He was also an RAF musician with the Western Band and Germany Band from 1956 to 1959, followed by a spell with the London Shipping Orchestra from 1960 to 1964.

After relocating to Essex in 1970, he spent the following 30 years playing with bands in Romford, Billericay and Rayleigh, the last of which he became bandmaster for in 1994, before he moved to Suffolk in 2001, where he began his long association with Long Melford.

On the Long Melford Silver Band Facebook page, people shared their memories of Tony this week.

Carol Rowe wrote: “Sally started with the band five years ago with no musical knowledge or instrument.

“Tony taught her to read music and master first the cornet and now the flugel horn and got her through two music grades.

“He gave her an opportunity to find the joy of playing music and we are eternally grateful for the hard work and dedication he has shown, not just Sally, but all the children currently in the band.”

Yo Burgess recalled: “Only a few weeks ago, he presented my granddaughter with the best player award at the Boxted Quartet fun day.

“She’s only 10 and hopefully his words will give her the inspiration to continue and make an amazing tuba player. He was kind, honest, fun and a very special man.”

Alison Smart said: “So sad to hear this. Tony was a lovely person and was such an inspiration and help, especially to young players.”

His funeral will take place at Colchester Crematorium on October 25 at 11.45am.