Right royal memories of the Gilley Law Cavaliers
Let’s make some noise for the Gilley Law Cavaliers who are set to re-live some golden times this week.
It is the 50th anniversary this year of the formation of the Sunderland jazz band which was one of the best in the North East in its heyday.
Sadly, the band is no more, said a former member who spoke to Wearside Echoes.
But now comes the chance to re-live those glory days at a reunion to be held this Friday, February 1.
Get along to The Scullery in Silksworth from 7pm - and remember to take along your old photos of those cracking Cavaliers days gone by.
Admission is free and there will be a disco.
Gaynor Walker, who is one of the reunion organisers, is hoping people will “get together and catch up on the memories. We are asking people to bring their photos with them.”
There’s been huge interest in the event with social media interaction from as far as Australia.
Gaynor is confident of attracting between 50 and 100 people, although anyone interested can also just turn up on the night.
In the meantime, she re-lived some of those wonderful band days with Wearside Echoes.
‘Live High, Aim Higher,” was the band’s motto. And they certainly aimed for the top.
The Cavaliers were up there with the best.
They marched in their distinctive colours of purple, black and white and there would be 100 of them in perfect synchronisation.
They had some battle royals for top spot with the likes of Washington Greys and Felling. There were others too such as West Wylam Wanderers and Sunderland Juveniles. But it was the Cavaliers who were always well prepared for competition.
“We nearly always used to come first or second,” said Gaynor. “We used to train three nights a week - on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday - in Farringdon Junior School.”
The Gilley Law Cavaliers were so good, you had to go onto a training course and a competition just to try and get into the main band, Gaynor recalled.
And that main band was massive. At its height, there would be 100 members.
It was a top-class organisation which travelled all over the country to competitions.
The Edinburgh Tattoo was one highlight. So were the world championships.
And so was the annual Crimdon Dene jazz band festival. “That was one of the biggest. It was massive. Bands came from all over for that one and you would all go down to the bottom of the dene to compete,” said Gaynor.
They travelled in style, as well.
“We had our own double decker bus and it was always full,” said Gaynor - nee Kitching.
“There would be 100 of us on it and the only people allowed on the bus were members of the band. Supporters had to make their own way to the competitions separately.
“There were lots of supporters as well and we used to have our own songs. We would make them up about members of the band,” said Gaynor.
The band first formed in 1969 and Gaynor, now 54, joined when she was six years old. “I was the mascot at first and then I got into the main band,” said Gaynor whose sister Elaine was band major at one point.
Gaynor still fondly recalls winning the title of Best Mascot.
But the best memory of all was “the friendships we made,” said Gaynor.
“At the time, it was like one big family and we all used to get on so well together. It was always such a good laugh and I have some fond memories.”
Why not re-live them at the re-union?
Gaynor has been planning it since last November and interest is high. “It has come from as far as Australia and people from London.
“There are lots of people coming but people can just turn up on the night. I am looking forward to seeing lots of photographs.”
The last reunion of the Cavaliers was held 15 years ago and it went “really well but that was in the days before social media when it was only word of mouth,” said Gaynor.
She is hoping that the added interest on Facebook will lead to even more people coming along.
So why not get along on Friday, February 1 to The Scullery in Silksworth from 7pm. And if you want to find out more, call Gaynor on 07850 078256.