The Royal Star & Garter Homes is extremely grateful for the support of major organisations such as the Birmingham International Tattoo. The Tattoo has continued to support the Charity over the past few years and raised a total of £65,000 for our disabled veterans. This year the Tattoo will be solely supporting The Royal Star & Garter Homes, with a view to raising a total of £100,000 by the end of our Centenary year.
We spoke to Ian Collins, Production Manager at the Tattoo and he shared with us their reasons for supporting The Royal Star & Garter Homes. He also explained a little bit more about the Tattoo’s history and provided a behind-the-scenes insight into the planning that takes place before the event:
The first Birmingham International Tattoo took place in 1989 and has been held annually ever since. We have subsequently taken the event to London’s Wembley Arena and to Newcastle and Dublin for special performances. Birmingham has always been the spiritual home of the Tattoo, as it is well-placed in the middle of the country to allow groups to travel from as far afield as Scotland.
The Tattoo is a military performance of music from the armed forces. The term comes from the early 17th century Dutch phrase doe den tap toe (“turn off the tap”), a signal sounded by drummers or trumpeters to instruct innkeepers near military garrisons to stop serving beer and for soldiers to return to their barracks.
Over the years, the Tattoo has supported a wide range of charitable causes, mostly local to the West Midlands. We chose to donate funds to The Royal Star & Garter Homes as we really want to support the excellent work they do in their Homes. Over £65,000 has been donated specifically to The Royal Star & Garter Homes and we felt that this year we would focus on raising additional funds.
The international bands are very important to us and this year we have musicians from Sweden, Italy, Hungary, France and of course the UK. However, I must say that we are very proud to have secured the Band of the Royal Air Force College in this special 75th Anniversary year of the Battle of Britain. Their attendance will help us mark this important anniversary and, of course, they will also lead all the performers in our spectacular Grand Finale.
Each band has a unique story to tell but they all share a strong commitment to be at the event and to do their best in front of the welcoming audiences. We have already had enquiries from other international bands wanting to perform next year and even in 2017. The challenge is choosing which ones to include each year, as there are so many choices.
The real story behind each band is that it will take months of rehearsal back in their home cities to be as ready as possible. Tattoo Producer, Norman Rogerson MBE, visits each band several times to discuss arrangements for their performances and shares with them the music, particularly for the spectacular Grand Finale. However, the music is only part of it, as flights and other transport need arranging, hotels booked and all the other logistics needed to pull together such a large event. In the end, we hope that all of the logistics and preparation are seamless so that what the audience sees is a fantastic show that brings together some of the finest musicians.
We get access to the arena at 8am on Saturday, then rehearse all day ready for the doors opening at 4.30pm for the first public performance. This year we expect the bands to march off at about 9.15pm and after clearing up, the team gets a quick overnight break, ready to start again for the Sunday afternoon performance. I will be in attendance, alongside our army of volunteers and staff, without whom, we wouldn’t be able to run the event.
In terms of the Tattoo’s future, we are already looking at international bands to take part in 2016 and 2017. Many of the group bookers are asking us for dates for three or four years in the future to allow them to plan their accommodation needs. With such a large event you have to be planning well in advance to be successful.
For me the Tattoo is three hours of pageantry and spectacle for all the family – come and experience it yourself and you will be hooked for life!
We would like to say a big thank you to the organisers of the Tattoo for their continued support of The Royal Star & Garter Homes.
When & Where
The 2015 Birmingham International Tattoo
Saturday 28 November at 6pm and Sunday 29 November at 2pm
Barclaycard Arena (formerly The NIA), Birmingham