IT’S a milestone year for The Anvil as it celebrates its 30th birthday – and it’s great that one of the annual treats of the venue’s musical calendar was among the first concerts to kick off this red letter year.

For 15 years, the Basingstoke Deane Rotary Annual Charity Concert has delighted returning and new fans with a musical tour de force – and this year’s performance really raised the rafters.

Every year, The Band of His Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood take the audience on a musical journey – sometimes through familiar pastures and sometimes introducing the listeners to some lesser-known numbers. What is a constant is the versatility of the band who play with perfect pitch, precision and power.

Basingstoke Gazette: The amazing Chelsea Pensioners received a standing ovation before taking their seats for theA big band concert like this really showcases the excellent acoustics of The Anvil – one of the key features that has kept the venue on the map since it opened in 1994.

After the revered Chelsea Pensioners had taken a bow, the band got off to a rip-roaring start with Sound the Bells.

As ever, The Royal Marines Corps of Drums performed with military precision, and before the first half was out, the audience were treated to four solo performances which put the individual spotlight on some of the stand-out musicians in the band.

Long-serving Royal Marine musician Captain Phil Trudgeon, who joined the Royal Marines Band Service in 2000 as a percussionist, is today front and centre with the baton after becoming the band’s director of music in August 2023.

Warrant Officer 2 Bandsman Jamie Gunn shared the conducting honours, and it was good to see him return to The Anvil where he made his concert debut with the band last January.

The start of the second half saw the band at their collective best as they performed a James Bond medley – you could picture the iconic film scenes as the classic Bond music was performed to an arrangement by Capt Trudgeon.

The grand finale of the concert is always full of power and patriotic music, including A Life on the Ocean Waves – and it is always guaranteed to leave the audience on the crest of a wave as they head home.

Congratulations must go to the wonderful Basingstoke Deane Rotarians, and all involved, including headline sponsor Centerprise International whose invaluable support underpins the event and means the donations raised from the generous audience can be used to support several good causes.