A SHIRLEY Brass Band stalwart which performs at international events and leads the town in its two minutes silence for Armistice Day is celebrating 70 years of playing.
Robin Mills joined the now defunct junior band in 1952 when he was eight years old where he was handed his first cornet is a leather case and over the years he has seen the band grow.
He is the band’s second cornet player and librarian, met his wife, Chris in the band and their daughter is one of the band’s former tuba players.
During his long tenure, the 78-year-old has had one sister, a father-in-law, two brother-in-laws, an uncle, a niece and three cousins all play alongside him too.
The long-serving bandsman has for many years proudly played The Last Post on at the war memorial for the Armistice service at James’ Church in Shirley.
The dedicated musician, who for many years was the band’s flugel-horn player, said: “ I was very lucky to have the late Don Hodesdon, the band’s former president, as my first brass teacher as he was extremely dedicated.
“I attended many junior band contests over the years, winning several trophies.
“I feel that for me, learning to read music and learning to play an instrument was one of the best things I could have done with my life.”
Robin upgraded to the senior band, aged 12, where he enjoyed playing in concerts in the parks all over the West Midlands, including Alton Towers and the annual Donkey Derby in Shirley Park.
Robin said: “I began playing the flugel horn when I was around 18 and continued with it for over 50 years, apart from short breaks due to work commitments and bells palsy.
“A couple of years ago, I moved back onto cornet, just before the Covid endemic.
“Shirley Band has been a huge part of my life and I feel privileged to have been part of it for so long.”
Over the years with the band he has visited Bitburg and Hamm in Germany, reciprocal visits to the UK with the Posaunenchor band, and performing flugel horn in a production of Brassed Off at The Dovehouse Theatre in Olton, where the band performs at each year.
He is now looking forward to the band’s promotion to championship section, the brass world’s equivalent to the premiership section, in January 2023.