Ron Everett was known to many across the Warwick district for his dedication to the community. Since he passed away recently, tributes have been flooding in. Kirstie Smith reports on the life of a remarkable person who was once named as Warwick Citizen of the Year.
Ron Everett, founder of the Warwick Corps of Drums (Warwick Girls Marching Band) and founder of Warwick Community Band, died on Tuesday March 26 aged 76.
Ron leaves behind his wife Jackie, his daughter Helga, his two sons Adam and Zac, and eight grandchildren.
Following a family announcement on social media, more than 100 tributes have been made recognising Ron’s dedication to youth work and the impact he made within the community.
Helga and Jackie said: “It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we announce the untimely passing of Ron Everett.
“Ron was the patriarch of our family and took great pride in his close family connections. Another proud achievement was his lifetime contribution to the town of Warwick, in particular his formation of the Warwick Corps of Drums (Warwick Girls Marching Band).
“There have been over 100 tributes to Ron, paying respect to his devotion in providing opportunities and wonderful memories.
“Messages have shown a true testament to the positive impact he has made. We take great comfort from the outpouring of messages we have received from those who knew him. We will never forget his charming personality, his cheeky sense of humour and beaming smile. Ron was always happy and would be so proud of the kind messages by all this whose hearts he has touched.”
“Ron’s passing is such a massive loss to the Warwick community and the banding world that he dedicated his life to.
“He has made a lasting impact on his family and everyone he crossed paths with. The legacy of Ron’s kind spirit, passion for music, love of entertainment and zest for life remains and will live on through them.”
Following in his father’s footsteps Ron joined the RAF in 1957 as a general mechanic and also played in the station band on trumpet and drum.
In 1961 he married his first wife Jo and was posted in Germany. During his time in the RAF he was also posted in a number of places including Wellesbourne.
In 1964 Ron left the RAF and started his voluntary work career in youth work and joined the 1048 Squadron Air Training Corps in Leamington as a civilian instructor, teaching general engineering, and was also a sports officer.
During this time he trained a boxing team who reached the national finals of the Air Cadets boxing.
In 1968/69 Ron helped to form the new unit 1368 Squadron Air Training Corps in Warwick, obtaining the rank of Warrant Officer and later bandmaster when he formed a cadet band.
In 1970 Ron invited six Kenilworth Girl Guides to join the cadet band for the season. At the end of the season the girls wanted to form their own band and Ron was asked by the Kenilworth Guide commissioners to form what became known as the ‘Kenilworth Girl Guide Marching Band’ in 1971.
The band became very successful in competitions and played in many parades and events around the county. Ron held the role of bandmaster for the guide band for eight years.
In 1979 Ron formed the Warwick Corps of Drums (Warwick Girls Marching Band). Ron put a great deal of his life into making the band a success and providing a fun, safe and educational hobby for young girls in the Warwick and Leamington area.
The band started life in the Warwick Youth Centre in Coten End and outgrew the centre when they reached more than 110 members.
Ron then sought new premises and began the mammoth task of rebuilding The West End Centre in Hampton Road, which became the home of the Corps of Drums in 1982.
The West End Centre was in a rundown state. With help from The King Henry VIII charities, the Sport and Arts Foundation, the local council and with the support and hard work of the band committee, they were able to completely rebuild the premises.
Ron obtained many building materials from Warneford Hospital in Leamington when it was demolished.
Over the years thousands of young women have been in the band, which performed across the UK at prestigious events including The Queen’s Jubilee Parade at the Mall, the Grand National at Aintree, Silverstone F1 Grand Prix and the New Year’s Parade in London.
The band also performed abroad including in Germany, France, Norway, Italy and the USA. The band also led the Disney Parade four times at Euro Disney.
Over the years, Warwick Girls Marching Band competed at many contests in the British Youth Band Association, managing to make the national finals most years. The band won many section awards and class winners, including trophies for ‘the most entertaining band’.
In 2002 Ron’s wife Jo died and he then stepped down as director and became president of the Warwick Corp of Drums. In 2005 he married his second wife Jackie.
In 2011, after taking inspiration from the ethos of Gareth Malone’s ‘The Choir’, Ron formed the Warwick Community Band, which currently has more than 50 members and draws its membership from across the Warwick district.
Members can be of any musical standard and the band provides a platform for members of the public to work and join together in one inter-generational activity.
As the town band, they perform at many civic events throughout the year, performances include playing in Skegness, Bath and Bournemouth Bandstands.
Overseas trips include several visits to France to play at Saumur’s music festival (Saumur in France is twinned with Warwick).
The band also provides a full service to Warwick Town Council for various events including the Warwick Armistice Parade and Warwick Christmas Lights and Carol Service.
Some of Ron’s other recognitions include an invitation and attendance to the Queen’s Garden Party for services to youth in 2003; being named Warwick Citizen of the Year in 2010; being awarded the British Youth Band Association Fellowship award for contribution to the association’s heritage; being a member of Warwick Court Leet and he was involved with the Warwick Twinning Association.
In recent months Ron was organising the 40th anniversary of the Warwick Corp of Drums. Ron had hoped to form a reunion band to parade through the town and to continue celebrations at the band headquarters afterwards for any past members.
John Morton, director of the Corp of Drums, and former members have said the event will continue as planned on Saturday June 22.
It is hoped there will be a good turnout to mark the 40th anniversary in celebration of Ron and the band.
Julie Quinn, on behalf of the Warwick Community Band, said: “We have lost a truly inspirational leader and member of the banding world. He has made such a positive impact on so many people’s lives since 2011. He was very kind, willing to listen and strived to give everyone the opportunity to play music, whatever their music background. We are a group of more than 50 members aged between 12 and 85-year-olds. Ron’s ethos throughout his banding life has been that “everyone is welcome”.
“We practice once a month and Ron has inspired so many members who have not played for years to join, meet together and enjoy playing music.
“He will be very sadly missed and will always be remembered.”
John Morton, director at Warwick Corps of Drums, said: “We will all miss Ron, his laugh, his wisdom and his vast knowledge of banding he gained over the many years. Ron, you will be so missed by everyone you worked, trained, taught and were friends with over the years, thank you for touching so many lives and leaving a legacy that you can be proud of.
“We will do our upmost to carry on your life’s work.”
A spokesperson from Warwick Town Council said: “The town council were very sad to hear of Ron’s passing. He was such a community spirted man. His community band supported the town council every year at Remembrance and his links with our twin towns and the marching band centre were invaluable.
“He was a strong, committed Warwick resident and will be greatly missed by all that knew him.”
John Atkinson, bailiff of Warwick Court Leet, said: “Ron was a much respected and committed member of Warwick Court Leet, whose support and knowledge will be greatly missed.”.
Former Warwick mayor Mandy Littlejohn said: “I was privileged to meet Ron when I first became a councillor and met and respected the late John Shaw who was at the time the president of our community band - through my love of the band I tried to support them when I could and Ron very generously once let me play the tambourine when I was the mayor - just showing his great sense of humour.
“With Ron being a juror of our Court Leet and the treasurer of our twinning association, the band played in Saumur, our twin town, in France, on many occasions.
“I had many opportunities to build a friendship and was honoured that he agreed for the band to play after my civic service and to celebrate our Queen as the longest reigning Monarch in September 2015.
“Ron has been so much part of our town for many more years than I knew him - he was kind, generous and great fun with a cheeky grin.
“It is hard to believe that he is not here but I am sure that his legacy will live on forever and one day I am determined we will have a bandstand to remember him by.
“His contribution to Warwick and its community will always be remembered.”
Ron Everett’s funeral will take place on Monday April 15 at 1.45pm at St Mary Immaculate Church in West Street, Warwick. The burial will take place at 3pm at Warwick Cemetery in Birmingham Road, Warwick