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Horse Rangers' Association legend dies doing beloved post round
A much-loved former bandmaster and newsagent died while proudly doing his paper round.
Major Derek Ward, 80, was at the forefront of the Horse Rangers’ Band since 1972 until he retired from the position in November last year.
The dedicated pensioner, former manager of Goldings newsagents in Hampton before moving to West Byfleet, was seen at hundreds of shows during his 40 years with the Horse Rangers’ Association (HRA), which is based in the Royal Mews, Hampton Court.
The HRA is a charity that supports the personal development of children and young people, regardless of background or ability, by teaching them to ride, look after horses and play music.
The group said Major Ward was very much valued as part of the horse ranger family and offered their heartfelt sympathies to his family and friends after his death last week.
HRA director Jackie Bryans said: “Mr Ward, as he was fondly referred to by band members, played an important role at Horse Rangers. He taught numerous young people, many with no musical background, to become part of our marching band.
“At its peak in the 1990s the band had more than 50 members and were invited to perform at the Lord Mayor’s Show, the Royal Tournament, and the New Year’s Day parades both in London and Paris... all of which provided the Rangers with precious memories that will last their lifetimes: a fabulous legacy to remember him by.”
His final performance holding the baton was for remembrance ceremonies in Hampton, New Malden and Worcester Park, last year, where he previously years played the Last Post.
Former band secretary Bob Spiller recalled one special occasion.
He said: “The biggest moment for the band, under Derek’s direction, was being invited to Paris to play for President Chirac in a two-day ceremony. The invitation came as a thank you for playing five times at London’s Lord Mayor’s New Year Parade.”
His family has asked for him to be cremated in his full bandmaster uniform following a service at Woking Crematorium on Tuesday 12 February at 12.30. All are welcome to attend.