Durnovaria Silver Band

After more than 16 years as the local MP, I sometimes wonder whether I will get to the stage at which I am not surprised by things that I discover in West Dorset. But even if this may eventually happen, I can certainly testify that it has not happened yet.


Last week's surprise for me was to learn the history of the Durnovaria Silver Band.


Like everyone else who has anything to do with Dorchester, I had of course heard of the band before - and indeed I have heard it play. But I had absolutely no idea about the remarkable history of this remarkable organisation.


It turns out that the band was formed in 1936 by Mr Edwin Otter and his wife, Kay. What makes this really rather astonishing is that Mr Otter remained the musical director of the band until 1983, 47 years later.


I don't know why there isn't a statue of Mr Otter somewhere in Dorchester - but there clearly ought to be one.


I gather that the band had a "good war" - because, like the orchestra on the Titanic but with happier results - it went on playing right through the hostilities to keep up spirits. And this wasn't just any old set of performers. Mr Otter clearly had some real sway and formed a band of the first order - as one can tell from the fact that they accompanied the immortal Vera Lynn.


Like many of the best "Big Society" institutions, the band has always lacked a permanent home. But this is about to change. A very considerable sum of money has already been raised locally, and the intention now is to raise enough in order to buy a fitting and lasting home.


I gather that there will be a concert on Saturday 1 June at the Dorford Centre at Top o' Town, with a singer and all, for just £5 (or £3.50 for those eligible for concessions).


As all the proceeds will go to paying for the band's new home, I hope the concert will be well attended.