HOSPITAL BAND- Dafydd Lloyd Jones
I had previously played for a number of years with the Royal Oakley Band and when I came to the hospital to work I was invited to join the Hospital Band. We met every Wednesday evening for the Patients Dance. In addition to the weekly dance we would also provide music for the Patient’s Ball, Carnival and Garden Fete, and processional marching through the streets of Denbigh for Mayor’s Sunday, Remembrance Sunday and Cymanfa Ganu’r Methodistiaid.
I joined the band towards the latter end of its existence, R.T. Williams (Dick Caernarfon, Dick Trombone - pictured right) was the conductor – he played the trombone and conducted the band by swinging the instrument up and down to keep time and towards the end of the piece of music he would make a circular sign with his trombone bringing the band to a stop. He was, as described in football terms a ‘Player Manager.’
The members who I remember that played in the band were Dick Willams (Trombone) Cynfi Roberts (Eb bass), Lei Roberts (Fawr - Bb bass) Wil Owen (Amlwch -Euphonium), Gwilym Pierce (Bb bass - pictured below), Sam Jones (Fawr) – (Tenor Horn), Ernie Jones (2nd Cornet) Stan Field (2nd Cornet) Mike Williams (Repiano Cornet), Les
Hayward /(1st Cornet), Tom Jones (Brymbo – Solo Cornet) Dick Dyers (Drums). Ron Edwards also played drums on occasions.
There’s a nice story about Dick Dyers - it happened on top of town whilst the band was marching along High Street and made a left turn to Crown Square , but because Dick was strapped to a whopping big base drum and couldn’t see in front of him, he continued down Vale Street still beating the old drum.
The band was considered to be a very important aspect of the Hospital's social life and we used to receive payment of 15 shillings (75p) if you were off duty for playing in the band. Not a great deal of money today perhaps, but when you consider my total weekly wage was about £6 (after paying the Nurses Home). I can recall as a Student I had been placed on a Care of the Elderly Ward (Geriatric) where it was extremely busy during and after tea. I told the Charge Nurse that I was a member of the hospital band and asked to be released to attend the dance. My request was refused, saying he couldn’t spare me. I rang Dick Williams and explained to him that I couldn’t be present and he said ‘leave it with me’ .Ten minutes later the Charge Nurse came out of the office and told me to go to the Hall. I enquired with Dick to find the reason for the sudden change of mind – Dick smiled and said that he phoned Dr Williams, Medical Superintendent who had contacted the ward and spoken with the Charge Nurse.
Following retirement, it was customary for Charge Nurses to return as part time staff nurses. Dick was no exception and was offered some hours to organise and prepare for the Patient’s Dance. He was extremely good for arranging popular tunes for the band and even to this day when I hear ‘A cuckoo sang in Berkley Square’ or ‘The Green Green Grass of Home’ it reminds me of the great time we had with the band.
Months later Dick Williams was appointed a peripatetic music teacher at Denbigh High School and whilst there invited some of his pupils to join us on a Wednesday evenings – David and Nan, their mother was Sister Evelyn on night duty also Nigel who went on to play professionally with various high ranking orchestras and Kim Ellis, son of Wally and Mair Ellis who now plays for Holywell Band.
North Wales Hospital Band marching 'on top of town' during the Coronation celebrations 1953