It’s not just rugby players that get the pleasure of gracing the hallowed turf of Cardiff’s Principality Stadium – Army musicians do too!
Meet mum-of-two and top notch Trombone player Corporal Tracy Llewellyn of the Royal Welsh Band who prior to lockdown and the stadium’s transformation into the Dragon’s Heart Hospital would regularly be found tuning up on the pitch before Welsh rugby matches.
As a member of the Regimental Band & Drums of the Royal Welsh, Tracy plays with her fellow musicians at many such prestigious events and occasions across the UK and abroad. A better part-time job the dedicated musician and also part-time farmhand says she couldn’t wish for.
It all began for Tracy, 39, from Abergavenny when she was 13 and she joined her local Powys Cadet Force Band. She enjoyed the experience so much that a few years out of school she joined the regular Army as part of the Corps of Army Music, serving for 12 years before leaving to start her family.
But it wasn’t long before the lure of Army music life drew her back and she joined up this time as a reservist with the Royal Welsh Band.
“I really enjoyed my job as a regular musician but left to start a family. The reserves gives me the opportunity to get the same enjoyment on a part-time and flexible basis. I get to do the job that I love without the family sacrifices that being a regular would have,” said Tracy, who has two children aged 6 and 5, and whose wedding planned for April had to be postponed until next year due to lockdown.
As well as bringing up a young family, her regular hours working as a reservist musician, Tracy has also recently studied to be a teaching assistant and gained her Cat C licence (rigid lorry) which means she can drive the large kit van for the band and large vehicles on her father’s farm.
She admits it is sometimes a juggle to balance family life and childcare with her musical reserve activities, but says the effort is always worthwhile.
“It’s a chance to do something different and the opportunities are huge, with courses, adventure training and new skills that are invaluable to anyone wanting to challenge themselves.
“My time in the regulars and the reserves has taught me to be patient and robust when facing arduous activities, something which definitely has value when farming.
“I love my role as a musician in the Royal Welsh Band, working with a great bunch of people who enjoy what they do. Being able to do this close to home, in the area I grew up, with the added flexibility that being a reserve provides is fantastic.”
Over the years Tracy has been part of ceremonies in Passchendaele and Mametz Wood for commemoration of World War One events and also played at the Menin Gate.
Being a mum-of-two and helping on the farm doesn’t leave Tracy much spare time but she also enjoys gardening, running a community band in Crickhowell with her fiancé and is easily roped into taking part in charity events.
There are over 2,200 reservists in Wales. They come from diverse backgrounds and give up their spare time to train and serve alongside regular personnel in the Armed Forces. They commit to a minimum of 27 days service a year.
Click in the post below to hear Tracy’s story in her own words
As a Reservist in @RoyalWelshBand, Cpl Tracy Llewellyn has combined the parts of her life that mean the most. As a mother, farmer, playing at the Menin Gate or helping the @WelshAmbulance Trust with the fight against COVID-19, there is no better Army role. #ArmedForcesWeek pic.twitter.com/HGan4z6ULv
— British Army (@BritishArmy) June 24, 2020