The future of the renowned Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) Band is being threatened by dwindling numbers.
And, Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Barbados Police Force, Oral Williams, has cautioned that if the future of the 130-year-old band was to be protected, it could no longer be business as usual.
He made these comments during a medal presentation ceremony to mark the band’s 130 years of existence at the Prince Cave Hall, District “A” Police Station, on Wednesday.
Past and present members of the band and specially selected members received medals for their contribution to its development through the years.
Mr. William said the situation had nothing to do with the nonexistence of applicants willing to join the institution.
He explained that the previous practice of bringing staff in at age 14 was no longer in existence, with prospective candidates now having to wait until 16-plus to join the band, and 19 to become a constable and a member of the regular force.
“This state of affairs must change if the band is to survive and perform the way for which they are internationally recognized. I have held discussions with the management of the band and made suggestions to avoid the diminution of sound quality and performances occasioned by the paucity in numbers at least for the short term. We can’t afford to do business as usual and lose this institution,” he stated.
In response, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Dale Marshall, said he would be “happy” to have discussions on what optimum numbers for the band were, and what the administration could do to ensure that its life continued for another century.
“Everywhere they go, the Police Band is highly regarded…. You represent the softer side of policing, and it is a side of policing that people want to see,” he said.
Mr. Marshall noted that the medal ceremony represented a small token of appreciation expressed on behalf of the RBPF, Government and the people of Barbados.
Acting Deputy Director of Music, Dexter Norville, said that the Band’s 130th anniversary was celebrated last year during the month of October, with the St. Cecelia Tattoo being the highlight of the activities.
Among those awarded were former Directors of Music of the band, Keith Ellis, Christopher Atherley, Carley Williams, Cortez Callender, Litchfield Nurse and Rudolph Holder.
Meanwhile, honorary awards were given to Commissioner of Police, Tyrone Griffith; Deputy Commissioners of Police, Erwin Boyce and Oral Williams; Acting Director of Music, Andrew Lynch; and Deputy Commandant of the Regional Police Training Centre, Christine Stanford.
Medals were also presented to 47 active members of the band, ranging from the rank of Station Sergeant to Constable. Awardees each received a medal with the Force’s insignia for their contributions.