There was unexpected drama at the end of Petworth Town Band’s first overseas tour when three illegal immigrants were discovered under their coach as they waited to board their ferry at Calais.
Band chairman John Sheridan told the Observer; “There was a long queue and we were joking that we might miss our ferry. Our turn came and UK Border Force officers came over with a sniffer dog which got very excited and they found three young men hidden underneath the coach in a void over the axle. They were detained by the French authorities.
“It is thought they crept under the coach at the last place we stopped which had been one and a half hours back at a motorway service station.”
It meant the 32 strong band and its supporters missed their ferry, but eventually made it back to Petworth by midnight on Sunday, August 6
The band had been based in Caen for four days presenting three concerts including two on the seafront at Arromanches-les-Bains and St Aubin-sur-Mer, two of the Normandy towns liberated by British, America, Canadian and other allied forces on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
“At Arromanches we enjoyed a guided tour of the D-Day Museum and we also enjoyed mornings in Honfleur and Bayeux and were privileged to present another concert at the renowned Pegasus Bridge Museum, close to Ranville, the first town in France liberated in the early hours of June 6,” said Mr Sheridan.
Petworth has twinned with Ranville since 1989 and band members and supporters, including Janet Duncton, chairman of the Petworth Twinning Association were given a civic reception at the town hall, hosted by the Mayor of Ranville and the chairman and members of the Ranville Twinning Association.
“Our first overseas tour led by bandmaster, Martyn Streeter and musical director. Paula Streeter, was deemed a great success,” Mr Sheridan said, “and members are already thinking about another – perhaps in 2019.”
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