That’s entertainment

We shine a spotlight on the Club Band and the Club Singers – two vibrant, talented groups providing plenty of musical cheer across the UK

Music has taken the Caravan and Motorhome Club Concert Band all over the country

Even during lockdown we were playing music and having virtual socials,” says Caravan and Motorhome Club Concert Band (‘Club Band’) percussionist Sarah Cobon, before adding: “I absolutely love being part of this family.”

Ask any member of the Club Band or the Caravan and Motorhome Club Singers (‘Club Singers’) to explain what it is that they enjoy most about their respective groups, and it’s likely that a phrase such as “lifelong friends” or “extended family” will pop up. As well as the chance to get together with others in order to be creative and make music, many talk about the camaraderie forged during performances and rehearsal events, which ensures that musicians of all ages continue to meet up year after year. 

In fact, some members go on holidays abroad together, and it has even led to love – congratulations to cornettist Crystal Carr and bassist Stephen Carr, who met in the Club Band and recently tied the knot!

Given the existence of long-term friendships, it will come as no surprise to learn that both groups were established many years ago (much credit is due to those who have taken on organisational duties past and present). During 2023, the Club Band has been busy celebrating its 30th year with a series of public concerts, including a commendable debut in Saddleworth’s traditional Whit Friday Brass Band Contests (see August 2023 issue, p16). 

Meanwhile, the Club Singers have their own major anniversary on the horizon –2025 will be the vocal group’s 20th year. Both are remarkable achievements and jointly stand as a testament to the hard work and passion of many Club members past and present.

Band of gold

The Singers in action

Founded by former Club Chairman Bob Black in 1993 and led by Conductor Major Brian Smith, the Club Band was initially known as the Music Makers. It has grown steadily since, supporting the Club through its performances, which include popular ‘Proms’ events at the National (now ClubFest) as well as at major events organised by the Club’s Centres, Regions and Divisions.

Today, performances can feature up to 50 musicians, with ages of players ranging from 10 to 88. As a concert band, there are wind, brass and percussion sections, and it is not uncommon to see more than 30 touring outfits at get-togethers. 

The Club Band’s current Musical Conductor is Chris Cobon, Sarah’s father. The Assistant Conductor is Emma Orcott, while Chairman Ian Clowes is one of several grappling with the behind-the-scenes logistics – getting everyone and their instruments together and booking performance spaces is no mean feat. 

Sarah performs a dual role, combining percussion with her duties as the Designated Safeguarding Lead. “While working with my fantastic team to write the policies and make sure everyone is safe,” she explains, “I make sure we have the correct performance licence for the concerts we do.”

Such dedication means that most members of the Club Band are free to concentrate on what they love: meeting up as friends and playing together. As 10-year-old fellow percussionist and banner carrier Kara succinctly puts it: “I like hitting loud instruments, making friends, and visiting new places with the band!”

In perfect harmony

Alison and Brian Ley

The Club Singers are equally active – provisional plans for 2024, for example, include get-togethers in Staffordshire (February), Wiltshire (May) and their October AGM in Warwickshire, with plenty more on the cards. 

Formed by Brian and Alison Ley after a successful workshop at the 2005 National, the Singers’ first rally took place in September that year, and four of the original members still attend today – along with several from the second rally, the following February. Their debut performance was at the Club’s Centenary National in 2007, and they have performed at other National events, even memorably alongside the Club Band in 2014.

Brian and Alison retired from the group in 2015, having spent many years advising on breathing, singing and performing techniques, while the next Musical Director (MD), Pam Guy, proved a dedicated leader of many years alongside Accompanist Sally Carpender. Although presently without an Accompanist, a new MD, Brian Rollins, will be helping to ensure that the group continues to sing in 2024 and beyond.

Like the Band, the Singers have supported the Club with performances at many Nationals and other events, and have also held popular workshops at ClubFest. They currently have around 80 members on their books, including both singers and non-singing partners, though in the past several of the latter eventually decided to swell the choir’s numbers. (“If you can’t beat ’em... join ’em!” jokes Singers Chairman Viv Doveston.)

A typical event weekend includes a good mix of singing rehearsals and socials, sometimes featuring in-house band The Prescriptions. Often there will also be a raffle and a well-deserved Sunday roast. Patrick and Sarah joined around two years ago, and have enjoyed their time with the group so far. “Our membership has taken us to places in England that we probably would never have visited, [we] have made some lovely friends and sing some brilliant songs!” enthuses Patrick. 

For Moya, who joined the Club Singers 10 years ago, the benefits of membership have proven invaluable following two bereavements. “I lost both my husband and brother-in-law over the last few years, but at 83 I am still driving my own unit and attending the singers rallies all over the country,” she explains. “Why wouldn’t I? I’ve made some amazing friends who have given me so much support, especially through my dark times. I love the choir, its members and the social events we have at the rallies.”

A sentiment that is echoed by many, many members of both groups – long may they continue to thrive!

If you would like to join the Club Singers or the Club Band, or if you would like to find out more about these two groups, please visit and (a Facebook account is needed to view this page) – both are always happy to welcome new members. Thanks to Ian Clowes and Viv Doveston for their help with this article. 

ClubFest 2024

Tickets are now on sale for ClubFest 2024 from 24- 28 May 2024 in the beautiful grounds of Weston Park, Shropshire.

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