The retiring Director of Music for Sleaford Concert Band has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s birthday honours list.
Jim McQuade, who started up the band and has been its director for the last 20 years, has been awarded for his services to music in the community of Sleaford and Lincolnshire.
He confesses that the official letter from London dropped on his doormat five weeks ago and said: “It has been an absolute horror to try and keep it quiet, as you are sworn to secrecy.”
Oddly enough he had just returned from attending a Royal garden party at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday after the band was nominated for a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
He added: “I am absolutely delighted and blown away by it.
“Our band administrator Jayne Field also got an MBE five years ago. The band are a marvellous bunch of people and it has been brilliant being their director of music for the last 20 years.”
Mr McQuade, a talented and versatile musician, served 22 years in the Royal Air Force. With the rank of Chief Technician, he was brass leader with the RAF College Band, leaving to become Head of Music at the Aveland School in Billingborough for 14 years, then worked for Lincolnshire Music Services as a travelling music teacher until retirement.
He said: “Music is the only thing I know - it brings so much joy and happiness.”
He wished to say a big thank you to the Sleaford Concert Band, while looking forward to enjoying himself from the sidelines having performed his final engagement as director at a concert for the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, in the 100th anniversary year of the end of the First World War.
Mr McQuade will continue to play in the band, on trombone, but hands over to his former RAF colleague, Richard Joyce, formally next Saturday. Richard’s debut will be at the Heckington Show concert in front of some 5,000 people.
Those Heckington Show concerts have been among Jim’s highlights as they have grown over the last 14 years. He said: “Whenever I have suggested something, the show committee have gone with it.”
He also loved the overseas trips to play at iconic cathedrals in Barcelona, Berlin and Paris, as well as on the main stage at Eurodisney. There have also been the trips to Sleaford’s twin town of Marquette Lez Lille.
He also started and continues to lead the very successful Miller Magic Big Band, plays in Kellar Kapellar (the German Band) and the Sleaford Concert Band Brass Quintet.
But Mr McQuade added: “I have always been keen that the band should be looked at as a community organisation - for the community, not elitist.”