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News > Dukie News > Director of Music, Major David Cresswell Retires

Director of Music, Major David Cresswell Retires

13 Jul 2022
Dukie News

Major David Cresswell joined the Army in 1975 as a Junior Bandsman at the Junior Leader's Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps.  Two years later he passed out as the best Junior Bandsman of his term and was posted to the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall for the one-year Pupil Bandsman's course, studying trumpet under Denis Clift.  From there he served for six years with the Cambrai Staff Band of the Royal Tank Regiment in England and Germany.

In 1984 he returned to Kneller Hall for the three-year Student Bandmasters' course.  On graduation in 1987, after winning the Alf Young Memorial Prize for Best Church Service, he was promoted to Warrant Officer Class One and appointed Bandmaster of The Queen's Royal Irish Hussars.  He served with the Regiment for seven years in Germany, England and Cyprus, and during the 1991 Gulf conflict, in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.

In 1993, upon the amalgamation of The Queen's Royal Irish Hussars with The Queen's Own Hussars he was appointed Bandmaster of the newly formed The Queen's Royal Hussars.  As a result of the reorganisation of Army music in 1994, the Regiment had its band disbanded.  Therefore, Major Cresswell has the unique distinction of being first, last, and only Bandmaster of The Queen's Royal Hussars.

After passing the Army's Advanced Certificate of Music in 1994 he was commissioned, promoted to Captain, and appointed as the first Director of Music of the newly formed Band of the Hussars and Light Dragoons, serving in Munster, Germany, following which he was appointed as Deputy Chief Instructor at the Royal Military School of Music in April 1998.  Having completed the arduous Household Cavalry mounted duty man’s equitation course at the ripe old age of 42, he was promoted to Major and assumed the appointment of Director of Music The Life Guards in January 2002.  He twice had the honour to lead the combined mounted cavalry bands on the Queen’s Birthday Parade.  Following three very successful years which included tours to New Zealand and Finland he was appointed to the Welsh Guards in June 2005, once again enjoying the privilege of twice composing and arranging music for the trooping of the colour.

Following his military service he worked for 12 months as the Ensembles Manager for Kent Music, and was appointed as Director of military music to DOYRMS in September 2009.

During his time at the school he has organised 8 trips to Valley Forge USA, taking over 100 pupils to perform on the Military Tattoo. The annual trip to the tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey in conjunction with the Belgian Torchlight association has also been a privileged event, but the most poignant was the Band and Guard visit to the Menin Gate for such an emotional parade to honour and lay wreaths for the former Dukies named on the gate. The band has performed at the Sun Military Awards on three occasions, giving the band members the opportunity to rub shoulders with many celebrities, including one taking a selfie with the then Prime Minister David Cameron!

The band has performed at many other outside events, the biggest of which was at Twickenham for an international rugby match between England and Argentina, broadcast live on Sky sports.  The Argentinian National Anthem isn’t one of the easier ones to play! The band were consummate professionals that day under all circumstances and were magnificent ambassadors for the school.

Maj Cresswell has assisted to develop, and then teach the Military Band BTEC syllabus, piloted at the school on behalf of the Cadet Force Qualifications Organisation, which was subsequently rolled out to both the bands of the British Army and the Royal Marines in training at Kneller Hall and Portsmouth.  Sadly, the BTEC programme came to an end when EDEXEL changed the syllabus, but for the last 4 years every DOYRMS candidate passed with distinction star, massively enhancing the school’s reputation with the Cadet Force Association and earning them valuable additional UCAS points.

Maj Cresswell was part of the staff Dukie Warrior team that completed the Trailwalker Challenge, 100kms over the south Downs completed in 22 hours, raising funds for the Gurkha Trust and the Army Benevolent Fund.  At 61 years of age he was the proud veteran of that team.

To complete his 13th Grand Day parade in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal was a fitting finale. His musical edification was formed as a chorister in the Queen’s chapel of the Savoy, the Chapel of the Royal Victorian Order.  He sang his first solo to Her Majesty (psalm 121) at the age of 11 and remembers Princess Anne attending more than one of the St Celia’s Day services there too.  52 years later he proudly saluted her leaving parade.

Maj Cresswell has no specific plans for retirement.  There will be lots of gardening, lots of motorcycling and much music making and listening, as yet, quite what to be decided.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to lead the band and troop the school’s colour under such prestigious circumstances. I will certainly look back with a great deal of pride.”

Major David Cresswell 

Director of Music

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