Thursday 18th June 2009 by C. Freeman
A former Brooke Weston employee is set to join the Army's most prestigious band. Dawid Venter, who left his post as audio-visual technician earlier this year, is an accomplished musician, having played the flute for more than 20 years and gaining a Masters degree in Music.
He applied for a position with the Band of the Life Guards, who, as well as being trained soldiers, also perform ceremonial duties at official state functions. They are a mounted troop so, in addition to learning combat techniques, Dawid will also undergo an intensive course on horsemanship.
He said: 'Having a classical music background people wonder 'why join the Army?' but, as a staunch royalist, I was attracted to the idea of playing for the Queen in state ceremonies like the Trooping of the Colour and Remembrance Day, especially wearing that fantastic uniform on horseback.'
The Life Guards was formed just before the coronation of King Charles II and its troops escorted the monarch through London for his crowning. The Band of the Life Guards was first established about 1795 and today their soldiers, with their distinctive red and black livery, perform in the UK and abroad.
Dawid, who is half-way through the first phase of basic training, said: 'From day one you are really thrown into the deep end. You are forever being kept on your toes, it's a real sense of urgency. It is hard work because it's really true selfless commitment because you are forever serving the Army in whichever way, forever on standby. '
As well as general cleaning and drill duties, Dawid has three gruelling PT sessions a week, Field Exercises and Firearms training. He has learned the basics of fieldcraft and map reading and is now taking part in live firing exercises on the rifle range. The next phase of his training will be learning musical marching and riding techniques so he keeps in perfect formation with his fellow bandsmen. Then Dawid will learn equestrian skills so he can expertly groom and ride the horse assigned to him.
Traditionally members of The Band of the Life Guards ride black horses, each of which has a Greek name. Dawid said: 'You start as a total amateur and you are trained in five months to become a master horseman using a sabre on horseback, cutting a watermelon while attacking, doing certain jumps, so it's proper horsemanship.'
At 36 he is the oldest recruit in his squad but enjoys the enthusiasm and banter of his younger counterparts and the team spirit they share. He highly recommends the Army as a career: 'The core values of courage, discipline, respect, integrity, loyalty and selfless commitment are instilled in us on a daily basis. Your accommodation, food and uniform are provided and the Army also offers educational courses all the way up to Masters degree. It reshapes your outlook on life, your way of thinking is crisper, you are taught to be extremely disciplined in a lot of key areas. You do get pushed to your limit and I've never been so fit in all my life!'