Havering conductor is first woman bandmaster in British Army

A Havering band stalwart has broken a 350-year tradition to become the first ever woman bandmaster in the British Army.

Madam maestro Esther Freeman, concert conductor for the Royal British Legion Band and Corps of Drums Romford, took up her post as leader of the of the Household Cavalry’s Life Guards on Thursday.

The role will see the talented pianist and flautist lead mounted ceremonial duties both at home and abroad for the regiment – the second oldest in the army and one of only two mounted bands of the army’s 22.

Esther, who has spent the past six months taking the rigorous Cavalry Mounted Duty Course to prepare for life on saddleback, told the Recorder: “I’m hugely honoured to be given the post but I don’t see myself as any different from my male colleagues,

“I’m looking forward to showing everyone I’m up to the challenge.”

The 35-year-old leads the Romford band’s concert [seated] practice sessions on Tuesday nights, at their HQ in Richardson’s Hall, in Western Road, Romford.

“I have worked with the Romford band since 2007 after meeting them while working for the army,” she said. “I feel privileged; they’re a hugely talented bunch of people and I’ve made many friends.”

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The warrant officer, from west London, who has a degree in music from Wolverhampton University, spent three years in the Territorial Army before becoming a career soldier in 1998.

She was first appointed as a bandmaster in 2006 when she led the Band of the �Parachute Regiment, based in Colchester, Essex.