Baritone saxophonist Malcolm Fletcher honoured - and surprised - as mayor steps out to hand him Freedom of the City of Ely
PUBLISHED: 14:03 18 December 2017
Veteran band member Malcolm Fletcher says he got "the surprise of my life" when he was presented with the Freedom of the City of Ely during a Christmas concert at the Ely Community College hall.
Mr Fletcher, 79, was one of the founders of the Ely Military Band when it re-formed in 1962 and has been playing – and rehearsing – regularly ever since.
“I’m not normally a person lost for words but I was absolutely stunned by this honour,” he said.
The ceremony took place during an interval at the Christmas concert when the mayor, Councillor Richard Hobbs, took to the stage to reveal baritone saxophonist Malcolm would be honoured with the Freedom of the City.
A closely guarded secret, the award was in recognition of Malcolm’s service to the band since 1962 and his years as a businessman in the city.
Mr Fletcher said the military band has a special place in his life as his maternal grandfather Ernest Crabbe was band master between the First and Second World Wars.
The original band was forced to stop in 1914 after the outbreak of war, was reformed afterwards, stopped again during the Second World War and only reformed again in 1962.
Sunday’s concert played to a full house for a superb festive programme conducted by musical director Phil Green.
“There were old favourites, and the house lights came up twice for the audience to join in some carols and Christmas songs,” said our Littleport correspondent Lyn Gibb-de Swarte.
“A very surprised recipient of this high honour, Malcolm Fletcher, who had previously addressed the audience with a speech thanking all for the tremendous support the band had received over the past year, said that he was rendered, “speechless” by the occasion.”
Mr Fletcher is one of a hardy bunch of stalwarts who practice with the band on Tuesdays at the college.
They include trombone player Maurice Blake – a former band master- who at 92 still turns out regularly.
The City of Ely Military Band is a wind or military style band which performs at venues all over the eastern region.
It includes a variety of instruments from the woodwind and brass sections and currently has a membership of approximately 60 members.
The band says it likes to perform a wide range of music including traditional marches and ceremonial pieces, overtures and waltzes, show and film scores as well as Latin American music.
“We like to provide something for everyone in our concerts,” says the band.