The Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company has helped the Cheshire Drums and Bugles ensemble hit the right note after letting the band use their probation premises for training.
Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) deliver rehabilitative services to low and medium risk offenders.
The unlikely partnership has been formed by Community Payback supervisor Tony Jackson, who works for CGM CRC and doubles as band leader for the Cheshire Drums and Bugles.
Tony supervises offenders on unpaid work orders during the day in the Vale Royal area of Cheshire. But every Thursday, at 7pm, he dons his band’s immaculate colours and carries out practice at Winsford probation office.
The 56-year-old, who served in the army for 20 years, had no problem drumming up support after he approached probation bosses with the request for facilities. As a result of their rehearsals, the band were invited to lead the parade at Crewe’s Remembrance Sunday commemorations.
He said: “Heading up the parade was a massive honour and we are indebted to CGM CRC because without their support we’d be nowhere near the standard that such a performance requires.
“The cost of hiring premises is ridiculous, and it was stopping us from progressing. I had a chance meeting with a senior manager and he was only too happy to turn over premises for an hour a week to support us.
“We are up to 13 members and are now expanding because we are becoming well known in the area, and it’s CGM CRC that has helped us make that break through.”
Members are aged from 18 to 60 and range from ex-military through to police officers and probation staff. The band is not-for-profit, but it costs £1,000 to kit out new members. They also regularly raise funds for the Royal British Legion.
Tony, a former regimental instructor, said: “I run the drill, deportment and military etiquette. It’s not every probation office which hosts a marching band!”
Tony has worked as a Community Payback supervisor in Vale Royal for 18 months. He said: “It’s the first job since I left the army where I’ve used the skills I learnt during active service. I love it.
“My philosophy is to ensure that everyone who starts their unpaid work order with me begins with a smile and leaves with one as well.
“And it’s not unknown for me to get out my bugle to help motivate new starters as we leave the office – and giving it a quick blast works a treat.”
Tony’s teams regularly carry out grounds maintenance work at churchyards across Vale Royal.
He added: “We ensure the grounds are immaculate, like bowling greens. Our service users learn new skills, get excellent feedback for the work they’ve done, and I hope that it helps those who are looking for employment to make that first step.”