Historic Bega Band performance recalled

FORMER Bega paramedic – and quickly becoming the BDN’s historian-at-large – Keith Beresford, submitted a fascinating image of the Bega District Band recently.

The photo was taken at Berry on October 6, 1947, while taking part in a band contest. 

According to Mr Beresford’s memory, bands taking part included those from Bega, Milton, Nowra, Berry, and Kiama.

“Bega came first in the Oval March, second in the Waltz and Selection and third in the Hymn,” he said.

“Not good enough said the redoubtable band master Merve Easdown, practice starts Tuesday.”

The following year the contest was held at Bega on May 2, 1948, when Bega came first in all events – “practice makes perfect”.

“It was interesting to note that the Bega Band learned the music for the march off by heart and was able to march without music, this gave them a big advantage,” Mr Beresford said.

The Bega Band was formed in 1899. 

The Bega District Band held its 99th annual general meeting in February 1998. 

At that time arrangements were made to celebrate the band’s century in early 1999. 

According to Mr Beresford, Merve Easdown became Band Master at the age of 17, probably making him the youngest Band Master in Australia. 

“In those days the Band Master had to play the lead trumpet and conduct with his left arm as well.

“Old hands said that Merve would practise in front of a mirror with tears running down his cheek.”

Alan Tetley OAM took over from Mr Easdown and held the position of Band Master for 32 years.

Mr Beresford knows fellow former band member Lindsay Newton is still knocking about in Bega – he enjoyed reading about the Newtons’ recent 60th wedding anniversary celebration (BDN, 1/10/13).

However, does anyone know the stories behind any other Bega District Band members pictured? Email ben.smyth@fairfaxmedia.com.au or call 6492 1177.

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