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Band of the Parachute Regiment prepare for Afghanistan
Band of the Parachute Regiment in rehearsal
The band has been based at Colchester since 2001

The Colchester-based Band of the Parachute Regiment are preparing to head out for a tour of Afghanistan.

The band will be deployed over the Christmas period.

It is the first time in the band's history that it will be deployed at the same time as 16 Air Assault Brigade, which is also based in the town.

As well as providing some much needed musical relief to the troops, the members of the band will also carry out some duties done by other personnel.

Bandmaster, Warrant Officer Oliver Jeans, told BBC Essex the tour was a particularly important one.

"It's important for us to be able to support the [16 Air Assault] Brigade in this way and provide musical support and contribute to the moral component of fighting power, as it's known," he said.

"So we're really looking forward to getting out there and doing our bit."

Warrant Officer Jeans explained how their presence would assist their colleagues on the front line.

"As a military band we should be upholders of tradition by playing the military marches," he said.

"But we should also be able to play the current music of the day and play what the soldier is listening to on his iPod," he said.

Rehearsals of the Band of the Parachute Regiment
The band hope to bring some festive cheer over the next few months

"We'll also have the opportunity to do some more of the ceremonial aspects as well, such as church services, carol concerts and whatever we can, in a musical way, to raise morale."

"[There's also] non-musical duties, so if that means somebody else can have a bit of a rest because we're covering aspects of his jobs for him, then all the better to support morale that way as well."

Alto-sax player Kate Whittaker believed it was important for them to be out in Afghanistan alongside their fellow Colchester-based regiment.

"I think it should be a really positive experience for all of us," she said.

"As a band we are the public face of them.

"We may not go out and do the same kind of work that they do, but I find it a privilege to be able to wear the uniform and represent them back home.

"So to actually go out there and support them while they're doing the hard stuff and hopefully make their Christmas a little bit better when they're away from their families seems like a really worthwhile thing to do."

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