Felixstowe: Soldier leads entertainment at Olympics beach volleyball

BANDS of the Welsh Guards are a familiar sight on London’s Horse Guards Parade – but not usually accompanying Olympic beach volleyball.

Conducted by Felixstowe soldier Craig Bywater, the musicians contrasted dramatically with the venue’s other scantily-clad entertainers as they marched into the arena in their full ceremonial red tunics and bearskins bearing their symbol of the Welsh Leek.

Warrant Officer Class One Bywater, 35, kept his eye firmly on the job as he conducted his highly disciplined 38 musicians in the heart of the arena before the Group 16 women’s match between Italy and Spain.

“It was fantastic to have this opportunity to play some really upbeat music, raise the spirits and generate a really fun atmosphere for everyone who has come here today,” said Mr Bywater.

“It’s the first time I’ve conducted the band at this venue and I absolutely loved it. The atmosphere was electric. It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to perform here at this iconic location and to be part of the Games.

“I love what they’ve done with Horse Guards Parade – it’s an area we know so well, but to see it transformed like this as a beach of bikini clad athletes where guardsmen normally tread, is incredible.”

His wife Rachel and six-year-old son Josh have been very excited about the Olympics and watching all the action on TV hoping to get a glimpse of dad and the band.

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Mr Bywater joined the Corps of Army Music in 1994 as a tuba player and after 11 years with the Royal Logistic Corps Band, became a bandmaster. After two years with the King’s Division Band he joined the Welsh Guards’ Band last year.

This year the band has played at St Paul’s Cathedral for the Diamond Jubilee Service, some of the musicians were among the fanfare team at the Diamond Jubilee Concert with Robbie Williams, and Trooping the Colour.