A MARCHING band has finally found a long-term base, after five years without a proper place to rehearse.

The Essex Marching Corps, has been on the lookout for its own headquarters since it was founded five years ago.

In the interim, it has been temporarily based at the King John School in Shipwrights Drive, Thundersley.

Now it has been given the keys to the disused Scout hut, in Watlington Road, Benfleet, with big plans to renovate it and offer it as a community facility.

Bandmaster Hayley Meagher, from Hadleigh, said: “It is nice to have somewhere of our own after five years, though we will still use the King John School until the hall is renovated.”

Mrs Meagher said the renovation should take no more than a year, and appealed for the community to help out.

The band needs people who can donate time, materials and money to allow the rundown hall to be given a makeover.

Mrs Meagher, 32, added: “We are all very excited finally to have somewhere we can call our own. It will mean we can extend the activity sessions and work with manymore people from the local community.”

As well as being used by the band, the hall will also be offered for the local community to hire.

Mrs Meagher said: “It’s really important to get people involved. There is a lack of userfriendly facilities in the area.

There is always a need for more community facilities.”

As well as practical help with the renovations, the band is keen to hear from anyone who had photos of the hall in the past, or could help it to find out more about the building’s history.

The band was recent chosen to take part in one of the biggest European floral carnivals, the Battle of the Flowers, on Jersey.

The carnival, founded more than a century ago to celebrate a royal coronation, is on August 14, and 15.

For more information about the band, or how you can help it, contact Hayley Meagher on 07882 789928, or email essex marchingcorps@hotmail.com