Our Director with Sir Steve Redgrave, St Petersburg, Russia, June 2011
Band Director: Mr Ian Yeoman
• Honorary Freeman of The Borough For Services to The Band and The London Borough of Havering (2006)
• Mayor's Award For Dedicated Service to The Royal British Legion Band & Corps of Drums Romford (2004)
• Awarded for Services to A London Borough by The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone (2004)
I joined the band at the age of 9 in 1978. I was always interested in music and as a result of that went along to the Havering Tattoo held in Romford Market. There I witnessed bands that I never knew existed, coming from East London I had not seen anything like this before. In 1978 the Legion Band were probably the biggest youth band in size and caught my eye immediately. Without further delay I enquired about joining. A week later I was in training, and have enjoyed it ever since. I began learning the bugle in what we called the 'b' band, privately I was having Cornet lessons and by luck, just before Wembley Contest a space became available in the main band. From that moment I was in, and it was all systems go!
Over the years I worked my way through the ranks, becoming the youngest member ever to be promoted to sergeant at the age of 14. In 1986 I was made Band Sergeant Major and in 1994 I was appointed the position of Bandmaster. In 2002 after the retirement of Mr. McWilliam I became Band Director. My most enjoyable times are when I'm out on the field putting together the many displays performed by the band at competitions and shows both here and abroad. It is these competitions that have earned the band the reputation of being one of the most successful UK Traditional Marching Bands of the 90's.
The band has gone from strength to strength over the last decade and this is due to the hard work put in by all members of the organisation. I feel that it is the family atmosphere and friendship that forms the basis of our success. Lets hope that this success continues for the future.
Assistant Band Director: Mr Mark Ellis
After following the band in a pram for many years watching my brother I decided to join at the age of 9 in 1975. I always wanted to play the drums but because I was always too small, Mr. Peter Richardson put me on the trumpet, very unimpressed! I learnt the Trumpet anyway, doing my grades at the Royal Schools of Music of which I was put through by Max.
Eventually I got my chance on the drums the age of about 13. This is when I earned my first stripe as Mr. Richardson was most impressed that I had already taught myself all the drum routines. After a couple of years I got promoted to Corporal and then started playing the Bass after Max nagged me. In 1986, I left the band to settle down and have a family but was soon to join again 8 years later in 1994, as an Honoury Sergeant but a few years later I was put back as a full Sergeant.
In 2003, I took on the responsibility of Band Librarian (which in itself is a huge challenge) and in 2004 I was promoted to an Officer. In 2010, I was promoted to Assistant Band Director.
Honorary Director: Mr Lesley 'Max' McWilliam
A message given by Max at his retirement on The Band's 50th Anniversary 2002
Although this has been my last year with the Band, the pace, including my own, has not slowed down a bit with jobs such as Izegem in Belgium, Donington Park Racing and our weeklong trip to Spain. Tonight is both a sad and happy occasion for me - I'm sad that I'm leaving the Band although this is something I wanted to do, but happy in the knowledge that the people who have supported me over the past years will be putting their skills and dedication to good use. My time in the Band has given me the rare opportunity to see children grow into adults whilst learning and becoming part of a great social group. Many have made friends and kept in touch for years, and I am pleased to have been able to be part of that 'special' group. I'm glad to be able to look back over the years, especially from when I took over the Band and remember the great times I have had.
One of the most memorable must be our first trip to the World Championships in Holland. To win 2 Silver medals was a fantastic feeling - especially when the Band was up against professional adult bands, and of course when we returned 4 years later we won 2 Gold medals, which was an incredible achievement, and of course who could forget our first trip to Callela. There have been ups and downs, but I can say that I have enjoyed all of my time I have been associated with the band. I will still be helping out when needed so the Band will not be loosing me completely and if I can pass on my knowledge to more people I will be privileged. I would like to say a big Thank You to all members and ex-members of the Band who have played a big part in my life and for making my role as Director of Music one to remember. I would also like to say a special Thank You to my wife Val who has always been there and supported me throughout my time in the Band How I became involved with the Band I was taken into care at the age of 9 months. At 10 years old and after spending a long time in a childrens' home, I started learning how to play the trombone.
At the age of fifteen, I left home to join the army and I started in the Kings' Dragoon Guards, who were stationed in Omagh, County Tyrone. I started on the clarinet, and over the years I spent in the army I learnt how to play many other instruments. In 1959 I went with the army to the last military tattoo at the White City Stadium in London. Whilst I was there I came into contact with the British Legion Boys' Band & Corps of Drums Romford (as they were known as then). As I was living in Brentwood, Mr Richardson the founder of the band offered me a lift home on the band coach. It was there that I made friends with some of the band members. When coming home on leave from the army, I would bring music back with me for the band to learn. On my retirement from the army after 25 years service, Mr Richardson asked me if I would like to join the band, which I did. I felt that I wanted to pass my knowledge on to other people because, music had been a part of my life and always will be!
After a while I became Deputy Band Master and in 1992 when Mr Richardson sadly passed away, I became the Director of Music. I have seen many changes in the band since 1974 which I feel have been for the better, and I must say that the band is one of the best British Legion Bands in the country today.