Chichester City Band mourns great character and great servant

Don Webb, one of the most loyal servants – and also one of the great characters – of Chichester City Band has died at the age of 84.

Don Webb
Don Webb

Band spokesman Jim Hurdwell said: “Don's loyal and stalwart contribution to CCB over many years was without compare and we will all miss him with greatest sadness. He was a true gentleman and bandsman who loved playing his trombone and was pretty good on ukulele too! He was so proud to play alongside his musical sons, Martin and Kevin, to whom we offer our heart-felt thoughts and condolences at this sad time. Rest in Peace Don, we shall cherish your memory.”

Kevin and Martin both attended a CCB rehearsal following Don’s death “something we feel sure Don would have wanted them to do,” Jim said. Martin still plays with CCB whilst Kevin now lives elsewhere.

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“Don passed away peacefully whilst tending to his beloved garden and we are all devastated by the news.”

Within days there were more than 200 tributes on Kevin's Facebook page: “All reflect how highly thought of he was by so many who knew him.”

After 30 continuous years’ service as a member of the trombone section of Chichester City Band, Don formally retired at the band’s Christmas concert in St Paul’s Church in 2018.

In an interview with the Chichester Observer, Don said at the time: “I have enjoyed 30 years of lovely music-making with the band. I had the chance to play in four national finals: 1995 Wembley, 1996 Cardiff, 1997 Birmingham and Cheltenham in 2018. At Cardiff we achieved our best-ever result in a National Finals with third place.

“I have only ever played in two bands. In 1958 when I got called up for national service, I played in the Regimental Band of the 10th Royal Hussars (PWO) for two years. I never joined a band when I was demobbed, but I began playing again when I started teaching my sons Kevin (trombone) and Martin (trumpet and cornet). We would often play at Easter and Christmas in Chidham Parish Church.

“After several years of persuasion from friends and family, I joined Chichester City Band in January 1989. I have never wanted to play for any other band and always feel very proud when we play Sussex by the Sea.

“I am not saying farewell to all my lovely friends in the band, but I am retiring as a playing member. However, I will still have contact with them as I was made life vice president in 2012.”

Don recalled: “I did my apprenticeship and then was coming up to national service. I thought I would go into REME but in The Melody Maker, they were advertising for bandsmen. I started teaching myself the trombone when I was 19 and I hard-necked it and wrote to them. When I got called up in June 1958, they said ‘You will be sent to Catterick for your basic training.’ When you come from a home environment, with your mum and dad doing all sorts of things for you, it is quite a shock when you are suddenly in the army and get sent to Catterick. It was the toughest place you could go. Even the hardest guys were all ‘Dear mum, please come and get me!’”

After national service, Don got married and had children and he stopped playing for a while: “But then one day, I was up in the loft and found my instrument and blew a few notes. Kevin was seven at the time and he was shouting ‘Bring it down! Bring it down!’ He said he wanted to learn and I started teaching him.

“I started Martin on the trumpet and Kevin said ‘Dad, you really should join a band’, and that’s when I joined the city band.”

Don's funeral will be held at Chichester Crematorium on Friday, August 27 at 3.30pm. His family have asked the band to attend.