In March 2016 following a lead via Marching Band Activity United Kingdom (MBAUK), Thurrock Marching Brass were contacted by agents of ITN Productions to see if they would be eligible to take part in what was to be a series of surprises for people who they felt would enjoy the experience.
Chairman, Paul Morgan had no hesitation is nominating Corps Director, Jay Lindner for the incredible work he does with the members and for the impact he has made on the organisation in such a short space of time. That, and he knew that Jay would be able to take a joke in every sense of the word!
Jay had absolutely no idea that he was going to be the target when attending calls, and after several skype sessions with the producers, discussing the exciting opportunity for the members where ‘a well-known celebrity or celebrities’ would be involved, Jay was beginning to guess too close to the mark, and so unbeknown to him, a plot was hatched to take him off the scent. That plot involved a phone call to say that unfortunately due to budgetary reasons the opportunity wasn’t going to take place after all. A brutal stop but one that proved to be the perfect catalyst to divert Jay’s attention off the subject.
In the background, the producers and the Chairman began to plot and plan one of the most memorable of days so far for the members, staff and supporters since the re-launch in October 2010. The game was afoot to see if we could get the Corps Director into a full TMB uniform and in position ready for the surprise. The suggestion that the Chairman and the Corps Director ‘surprise the kids by turning up to a scheduled dress rehearsal in full uniform’ was made, and brought into, and so the official Corps Photo shoot was organised as a cover up story to get Jay into play. Little did he know that he was the target of something more spectacular that even he could have ever imagined.
In addition, a further challenge was given to provide full TMB uniforms for the celebrities too. Just from using their measurements and no direct fitting. Something that was achieved by our incredible head of Wardrobe and Press Officer, Marie Leighton.
To add to the intrigue, strict instructions were given that ‘nobody at all’ must know what was actually going on, and so with the exception of 4 individuals which included Trustee Lee-anne Heymer, Our Press Officer Marie Leighton, our Chair of PSA Stephanie Friend and the Assistant Corps Director Laura Pickton. All of whom would be given ‘certain bits’ of information to assist in the plan to surprise the Corps Director. Coaches were booked with nobody but the above knowing where they were going or what was in store. The photo shoot and the taking of some official videos was all that anyone knew at the time. The photos were to be shot by our dear friends at Westside Studios.
In the background, the Corps Director and the Chairman frantically worked with one of the staff’s Mum’s and the head of TMB’s Wardrobe to ‘secretly’ fit them into uniforms so that the ‘surprise’ of turning up at the photo shoot would still work. A huge thank you to both Marie Leighton and Pauline Crowhurst for their help in making this happen for us.
On the day of the shoot, it was the job of the Chairman to keep the Corps Director busy, and stories as to why they were not travelling with the entourage were made up and delivered to the members, staff and supporters. The two pranksters were to travel separately and meet everyone there because they had to runs some errands for a special surprise for the kids.
All through the day instructions were given to the Chairman, either directly through ITN Productions or by our Press Officer on their behalf and as the moment of arrival approached, the secret task was to get the Corps Director into a specific café at a specific time, and to see if the owner would allow them to change into the uniforms so the members would be surprised. The secret instructions also included them to be sitting at a specific table outside the café in full uniform then await further instructions.
Given that both the Chairman and Corps Director enjoy playing their instruments, they decided it would be fun to have a little busk of their own and so surprised the passers-by when they decided to cheer them up with some well-known tunes.
The moment came when Ant & Dec arrived in a brand new Suzuki Vitara, jumped out, and shouted “JAY LINDNER…..? SURPRISE!!!”.
The look on Jay’s face was absolutely priceless. There he was sat squeezed into full TMB uniform, shako on and instrument in hand, and in front of him stood the legendary duo Ant & Dec. What would anyone do in that situation? Yes, he turned to the Chairman and said “This is you isn’t it…. You did this!” A feeble denial from the Chairman was met with a very loud “YES…. YES IT WAS ALL HIM JAY” from Ant.
Once the initial surprise had been given Jay quickly realised that the kids had no idea what was about to happen to them and his attentions turned directly to them. Something that makes him a very special person indeed and a characteristic that we have grown to love here at TMB.
After a short drive which was full of fun and laughter by arguably the four biggest kids on the planet, the time came for the members to get their ‘double’ surprise.
As the Suzuki Vitara pulled up to where the band were set up for their photo shoot, all in parade formation and playing some parade tunes to entertain everyone, out popped the Chairman and the Corps Director in full TMB dress uniform. If the looks on their faces wasn’t funny enough, when they introduced two of their new friends one by one they stopped and stood in awe as Ant and Dec got out of the car too.
Ant and Dec asked if they could join in and to a resounding YES from all the members they surprised them further by getting into the uniforms that had been provided for them.
The way they interacted with the members, joining in and making them all laugh was just incredible. It was big kids working with, and having a laugh with, lots of young kids and that is a chemistry that was always bound to create special memories.
After playing instruments, waving flags and generally having a lot of fun it was time for the dynamic duo to head off and say goodbye to everyone. Not before some group photos though and a small token of our appreciation with the Drum Major, Chloe Crowhurst and Guard Captain, Rhianna Leighton presenting Ant and Dec with their very own Honorary Members TMB Corps Jackets in their favourite Newcastle football colours of black and white.
A truly inspirational day and one that will be remembered forever by everyone involved.
Thurrock Marching Brass would like to thank Suzuki and ITN Productions for allowing us to be a part of this very special event. You made some big kids, and some younger kids beam from ear to ear for some time to come. THANK YOU.
Thurrock Marching Brass are proud to perform as much as they can within the local community and you can find out more via any of the below channels.