Dennis Denning toasted at annual concert in Queensferry

Celebration of service...Danny Harrison presents Dennis with the award for 50 years of service.
Celebration of service...Danny Harrison presents Dennis with the award for 50 years of service.

The tuba isn’t exactly the lightest instrument in the brass band family.

So someone who has lugged one around for more than 50 years surely deserves some recognition!

Proud moment...for Dennis Denning and his wife Mary at the Rotary Club of South Queensferry's annual senior citizens concert. The couple met while they were both working at Buckingham Palace.

Proud moment...for Dennis Denning and his wife Mary at the Rotary Club of South Queensferry's annual senior citizens concert. The couple met while they were both working at Buckingham Palace.

And that’s exactly what happened to Dennis Denning recently when he was awarded a 50 year service award from the Scottish Brass Band Association.

The modest South Queensferry resident didn’t feel he deserved the award.

But band secretary, 2nd horn player John Gilmour, disagreed and nominated him for the accolade.

And at the Rotary Club of South Queensferry’s annual senior citizens concert on Friday, March 16, Dennis was presented with the long service award from association committee member Danny Harrison.

Dennis (68) said: “I didn’t think it was something I was entitled to as I haven’t always played in Scotland.

“But John nominated me as he thought playing the tuba for 50 years deserved some recognition.

“It’s something I really wasn’t expecting but it’s an honour to receive it.

“I’m sure it will become a a family heirloom now.”

Dennis first picked up the tuba in 1965 when he joined the army’s Green Jackets.

He wanted to play percussion but was asked, instead, to take on the tuba and he hasn’t put it down since!

Dennis, a lance corporal, was in the army’s brass band throughout his nine year forces service.

He said: “I didn’t know the first thing about music when I joined the army.

“I joined the brass band because I was interested in percussion but they suggested that I play the tuba and it’s all I’ve played since.

“No-one else seems to want to play it.

“It’s such a light instrument to carry around, I can’t understand why not!

“In the army, I sometimes had to carry it at 160 paces a minute and managed.

“Thankfully, though, I don’t have to do that now!”

After leaving the army in 1977, Dennis joined the police force for a year but decided it wasn’t for him.

Instead, the Kent-born man went on to work in a silk screen printing factory for three years before taking on his next VIP appointment.

Dennis was employed as an attendant at Buckingham Palace, where he worked for six years and met his good lady wife Mary, a housemaid in the royal household.

Sadly, he wouldn’t be drawn about life in the Palace but he did admit to meeting several of the Royals during his time at Buck House.

He said: “It was a great job and I met my wife-to-be while working in the Palace too, as well as members of the Royal Family.”

Throughout his time in London, Dennis continued to perform with the Crewkerne Brass Band in Somerset, commuting back and forward regularly for rehearsals and concerts.

Dennis went on to play with the Northfleet Brass Band in Kent and a Royal British Legion band when the couple moved back to his home county, Dartford in Kent.

In 2001, they moved up to Scotland to be closer to Mary’s family and two years later the couple settled in South Queensferry.

Dennis retired in 2015 but has no plans to give up his beloved tuba – he still plays regularly not only with the Queensferry Community Brass Band but also the Edinburgh Concert Band.

He added: “It gets me out of the house two nights a week for rehearsals and performing.

“I love the comradeship it offers and still very much enjoy playing.

“I’ve no plans to give up the tuba just yet, even though it seems to get heavier and heavier every year!”

Dennis’ fellow brass band members played at the annual senior citizens concert so it seemed an ideal venue to present the award.

The concert is free to all senior citizens in the local area and is funded and run entirely by the Rotary Club of South Queensferry.

It started in 1981 when the club was just three years old and has been a much-anticipated event ever since.

Queensferry High School pupils sing or play instruments in the first half, along with local choirs and bands, with more music in the second half. The music tends to be from the era when the guests were young.

Senior citizens who cannot get to the concert under their own steam are transported to and from the event by Rotarians.

Morag McCallum, speaker secretary, said: “We’d like to thank all the members and local businesses who donated raffle prizes for the event.

“It was a fantastic night for all concerned – guests, performers and Rotarians.

“The brass band has long supported the concert so we were delighted to be able to celebrate Dennis’ service on the night too.”