MUSICAL LEGACY: Harold Taylor, pictured with the loves of his life, his wife Pearl and his coronet.
MUSICAL LEGACY: Harold Taylor, pictured with the loves of his life, his wife Pearl and his coronet. Jackyln Wagner

Bandmate of 83 years, 'Squizzy', mourned by Salvos

HAROLD Neville Taylor, or Squizzy as he was affectionately known, died recently, bringing to a close one of Australia's longest running memberships in the Salvation Army Band.

The Lismore local joined the Salvation Army Band when he was 12 after hearing them at an open-air meeting and thus starting an 83-year musical journey with his beloved church.

In many ways the Salvation Army Band gave Harold an outlet for the traditional values he held so dear including church, family, community and generosity.

Fellow band member Kevin Elsley said Harold was able to create a rich, smooth melodious tone with his cornet - also known as a trumpet.

Mr Elsley said Harold loved to play the top Soprano and was able to reach both high and low notes.

Harold first went to school in Lismore when he was 7, but left at the age of 14 to start a painting apprenticeship.

Living through the depression he was able to help the family, including four brothers and three sisters, by taking on a job washing dishes at the pie cart for one and three pence.

He worked 58 hours a week during his apprenticeship where he was paid one pound to start with.

World War II meant he went to military training for three months although he was initially too young to enlist.

While at training he was engaged to his wife Pearl, and they were married on the 27 August 1942.

He was subsequently drafted into the 9th division 2nd/13th Battalion and its band and saw service in Borneo when the Allied forces were fighting the Japanese, which wasn't without incident including encountering a crocodile on the banks of their camp.

Upon returning from the war he returned to his trade of painting starting 'H.N Taylor: Painting, Paperhanger, and Decorator' located on O'Flynn Street and employing up to 16 people at any one time.

Every Anzac day, Harold could be seen travelling the region playing at services from Evans Head to Lismore, and paying tribute to the fallen soldiers with his bugle.

Mr Elsley said Harold was extremely generous with his time - helping to start the St John's Woodlawn College band, the Lismore City Brass band, for which he was the band master for 15 years, the Casino Brass band and the Evans Head Brass band which he was band master of for 13 years.

A college band player wrote in the 1964 college magazine: "We owe Mr Taylor a great deal.

"He gave freely of his experience and time."

"He loved the sound of the brass band and was a huge fan of the old hymns," Mr Elsley said.

"In fact Harold's most beloved tune was 'How great thou art'."

Harold's passion for music was nearly thwarted 20 years ago when he had the first of two strokes.

"He was stubborn and determined," Mr Elsley said.

"He taught himself how to play again."

Whether it was the houses he painted, or the music he created for the community, or the 1000 or more St John's students he taught, or even the Christmas cakes and stewed fruit he baked for the community, it would be hard to have lived in Lismore and not encountered Harold's community spirit in some way.

Relatives and friends are invited to a service on Monday at the Salvation Army Citadel starting at 2.30pm.