Royal Marines musicians laid on a poignant performance for patients – including one of their bandmates – at a Wiltshire hospice.

Newlywed Sophie Ward was joined by her husband Richard, patients, staff and volunteers as the men and women of the Band of His Majesty’s Royal Marines from HMS Collingwood in Fareham staged a concert charged with high emotion in the grounds of Dorothy House.

She was moved in her bed on to the patio adjoining her room to listen and watch her beloved band for one final time, accompanied by her husband – a fellow Royal Marines musician.

The 27-year-old flautist, who suffers from Motor Neurone Disease, has been an inpatient at the hospice in Winsley near Bradford-upon-Avon since mid-June,

On the grass of the hospice in brilliant summer sunshine her colleagues – in full uniform – marched and performed a playlist chosen by Sophie to the delight of all.

Patients and staff told the musicians this was “an absolute treat” and “the most emotional and uplifting experience”.

Sophie, from Warminster, joined the Royal Marines Band Service in September 2020. As well as the flute, she also plays the saxophone. Her husband, a lance corporal from Newport in South Wales, has been a Royal Marines musician 12 months longer and plays solo cornet.

At the end of the performance, Sophie was presented with her Coronation Medal, specially mounted in a display case, by the Band Service’s Principal Director of Music Lieutenant Colonel Huw Williams RM, Adjutant Major Sam Hairsine RM, Director of Music Captain Phil Trudgeon RM who conducted the band and Bandmaster – Warrant Officer 2 Jamie Gunn RM.

Captain Trudgeon said it had been a pleasure leading the band in the special performance for Sophie and her family.

“The day was full of a range of emotions as we performed a Beating Retreat with music selected by Sophie,” he continued.

“I felt overwhelming pride as the band played so spectacularly and hope we brought moments of positivity and joy to all friends, family, and staff. Sophie will always be a part of our unique Royal Marines Band Service family.”

Wayne De Leeuw, Chief Executive of Dorothy House Hospice Care said the performance had both moved – and brought joy to – everyone present.

“Dorothy House exists to do what matters most for people and today exemplifies that. Thank you to Sophie and Rich for giving us the opportunity to share in something so personal, something so very public and something extraordinary,” he added.

“Thank you also to the Royal Marines Band for allowing us together as a community to deliver what matters most today to Sophie and Richard.

“The Latin motto for the Royal Marine’s is ‘Per Mare, Per Terram’ – By sea, by land. For one afternoon, I want to add one extra bit; by sea, by land, and through kindness. You brought happiness, but you also made us shed a tear and realise the value life and the things that really matter to people.”

Dorothy House provides free palliative and end-of-life care to a population of more than 550,000 people in Bath and North East Somerset, and parts of Wiltshire.

It relies on public donations to provide its medical services, family support and personalised hospice-at-home care. For every £1 it receives from the government, friends and supporters – through 27 shops and a plethora of fundraising activity – need to raise another £4 to meet the growing need for its services.

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