K. Ballantyne (side drum), G.Hardy (bass drum), K. Wendt (drum major) and B. Mees (side drum) with the cheetah skin in 1952.
K. Ballantyne (side drum), G.Hardy (bass drum), K. Wendt (drum major) and B. Mees (side drum) with the cheetah skin in 1952.

That time a Sri Lankan PM gave Bundy a cheetah skin

THIS cheetah skin was presented to the Bundaberg Municipal Band in 1950 by the first Prime Minister and Agricultural Minister of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Don Senanayake at the instigation of D.L. Small (chemist).

The prime minister was visiting Bundaberg for a sugar conference.

He was so impressed by the band's performance at the conference, he asked bass drummer (Gordon Harvey) if he could present the band with something from his country.

Gordon jokingly requested a cheetah skin for the bass drummer to wear.

This has been a custom in British brass and pipe bands for many years.

The request was forgotten until the cheetah skin arrived in a specially prepared box to make its inaugural appearance at the Queensland Championships held in Ipswich, Easter 1951.

The skin is still held by the Bundaberg Municipal Band but has not been used for several years due to changing opinions regarding the public display and use of material from endangered species such as the cheetah.

The origin of the plaque (right) is unknown but had been placed in the box containing the skin.

Brian Mees joined the Boy's Band in the 1940s under the baton of Charlie Clinton and moved up to the Bundaberg Municipal Band in 1950 as a side drum player.

He talked of the early days of strict practices and rehearsals for contests and street marches at state and national competitions.

Boots had to be spit polished with no laces showing and uniforms were worn to strict order.

As the band had nowhere to practice, Claude Ninnus organised fundraising which included the band performing in the rotunda in Alexandra Park every Sunday, cent sales and raffles.

The Bundaberg Show Society was approached to allow the band to build a hall on the Showgrounds in Burrum St on the condition that the Show Society had access to the hall during showtime.

This co-operation continued until the show was moved to the new Bundaberg Regional Council Recreational Precinct.

The band will continue this association with the show society when the hall is relocated to its new venue at the Recreational Precinct.

Brian Mees moved to Launceston and recently discovered the photograph of the first time the cheetah skin was used at a competition.

He had the photograph framed and presented it to the current band president, Lesley Hume. It will be added to the collection depicting the history of the band since its formation in 1935.

Former PM:

  • Don Stephen Senanayake was the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.
  • He emerged as the leader of the Sri Lankan independence movement that led to the establishment of self-rule in Sri Lanka.
  • He served as Prime Minister from the formation of an independent nation in 1948 until he died in office in 1952.
  • He is still considered as the 'Father of the Nation'.