The Royal British Legion, founded in 1921, is well-known for its services to members and veterans of the British Armed Forces. They provide help financially, socially, and emotionally with 235,000 members and 110,000 volunteers.

But there are many smaller groups throughout the country that are affiliated to the British Legion and help to raise funds, including the Old Basing Royal British Legion Corps of Drums.

The group's history stretches back to 1966 when the band were under the leadership of police sergeant Richard Coverdale (known as Rocky) and Maurice Lambden. In that year, they won the Hampshire and IOW Cadet Band championship, a title they retained for several years.

Eventually in 1985 this led to the BL Corps of Drums being formed, a realised dream of Rocky's, initially with ‘cobbled together’ uniforms. But after a while with hard won funds and favours called, Rocky eventually managed to purchase smart new uniforms which included ex-Royal Marines pith helmets and the band went from strength to strength.

Over the following years the band travelled extensively across Europe and the South of England performing at shows and carnivals including the Bayeaux Cemetery in front of the Queen and President Bush. In 1988, the band performed at the War Graves Cemetery in France and took part in a Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate, Belgium, which is performed every evening as a remembrance for the unknown soldiers who were killed in the Ypres Salient.

The band now has 25 members ages ranging from 13 year-old Patrick Furze, who joined at the age of 9, to 87 year-old clarinettist Eric Webb.

Contrary to its name, the band is not predominantly drums but also uses bugles, trumpets, glockenspiel and cymbals giving demonstrations of a wide range of military and popular music.

As well as regularly attending Remembrance Sunday events, the band also visits nursing homes and carnivals in the area as well as the four-yearly Overton Sheep Fair. Members also represent the band at funerals of ex British Legion members sometimes laying a wreath or playing the Last Post as a tribute.

There have been no activities this year for the first time in the band’s history but it is hoped that this will return to normal in 2021.

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