Bader’s Big Band Make Sweet Music Together at Tedworth House Weekend – Report by Charley Bickers

We were delighted to meet up with the lovely Bader’s Big Band musicians again over the Bank Holiday Weekend at Tedworth House, Help for Heroes’ beautiful Recovery Centre in the South.

The musicians last met at the Soundstage Studios in Acton for their Audition Weekend. You can read more about this by following the link at the bottom of this post. There they got to know each other and to play together for the first time under the experienced eye of Paul Clark.

Paul was there again for the weekend to work with the band on some new songs arranged specially for them by Andy Keenan.

I had been looking forward to our first proper rehearsal and the band didn’t disappoint. What a lovely group of musicians to work with! Paul Clark

Representing DBF were organisers, David and Charley Bickers, who were both delighted with the help, support, hospitality  and facilities provided by Tedworth House; thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the musicians and were hugely impressed by the progress made by the band over the weekend. They are very grateful to all concerned.

Charley Bickers says: “It was a hugely enjoyable and very productive few days for Bader’s Big Band.  Help For Heroes kindly let us all stay at the magnificent Tedworth House for the Bank  Holiday weekend, a very grand setting for what would be Bader’s Big Band’s first proper rehearsal.

There have been a few valuable new additions to the band line up since the first auditions in London and it was lovely to finally meet everyone.  We couldn’t have had a nicer bunch of people, the setting was perfect and it to top it all off it happened to be the hottest bank holiday on record!

I would like to give a big thank you to everyone who came and worked so hard throughout the weekend.  The rate of improvement is pretty phenomenal, by the Sunday afternoon the band were even ready to play their first ever impromptu live performance to the Tedworth House catering and security staff.  Paul Clarke is leading the band brilliantly and is really bringing the best out of the players, he has also made some inspired song choices such as ‘Skyfall’, the James Bond theme and hit song by Adele.

It was so nice to be joined by Andy Keenan on the Sunday afternoon to add his baritone base to the three modern songs that the Foundation commissioned him to arrange for the band.  The songs sound fantastic, it’s so interesting to hear modern, well known songs re-imagined with a big band feel and I’m sure they are going to go down brilliantly at the live shows.  

I have to say that I am very impressed with Help For Heroes and the work they do is invaluable in helping servicemen and women to overcoming such a broad range of difficulties.  They provide the perfect environment and care for these individuals and I know just how much difference their help makes to many lives.

Likewise I am incredibly proud of what we at the Douglas Bader Foundation are doing with the Big Band and particularly of the band members themselves, all great examples of Douglas’s spirit.  Shona even managed to make the rehearsal after only having had her leg amputated less than a week earlier.  With that level of dedication then the sky’s the limit for this band!!


Scroll to the bottom of the post for a recording of the Band playing “Skyfall” and other links.

Bader's Big Band in front of Help for Heroes' Tedworth House
Bader’s Big Band musicians in front of Help for Heroes’ Tedworth House


Useful Links: (Links will open in new tabs)

More reports to follow – keep checking in!