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Witty piano teacher and performer dies at 60

By Isle of Thanet Gazette  |  Posted: January 18, 2013

much  missed:  Raymond Banning

much missed: Raymond Banning

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PIANO teacher and performer Raymond Banning has died following a debilitating neurodegenerative illness, at the age of 60.

Mr Banning was a popular teacher and performer in Thanet before moving to Cambridgeshire in the mid-90s.

Born and bred in Ramsgate, Mr Banning had a love of music and showbiz from an early age.

A great raconteur, with a witty sense of humour, he often relished retelling the stories of his family's stage career dating back to the 19th century.

A pupil at Newington school, he was greatly influenced by his first music teacher.

After attending Chatham House school, Mr Banning studied pianoforte at the Royal College of Music, where he also continued his other great love, football.

After completing his studies he became head of music at Hartsdown School and alongside his great friend Matthew Alexander, was instrumental in staging the school musicals each year.

In the 1980s he was asked to be conductor of Thanet's first professional orchestra, and oversaw performances with well-known artists such as John Ogden and Moura Lympany.

Later he went on to teach alongside his great friend, concert pianist John Bingham, at Trinity College of Music.

Mr Banning also played in London at the Wigmore Hall, and with the actors Stephanie Cole and Edward Fox in performances of words and music.

A committed socialist, Mr Banning loved the satire of Private Eye, and latterly the Oldie, with whom he ran annual master classes and forged strong friendships with editors Richard Ingrams and Ian Hislop.

He always supported the underdog, and it was no surprise that he chose to raise funds in aid of mental illness rather than some of the more popular charities.

Mr Banning is missed by his parents Edna and Bill, sister Shirley, his stepdaughters, extended family and his many friends.

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  • LBanning  |  February 28 2013, 7:11PM

    This article was not written by a reporter, draw your own conclusions as to who might decide to 'airbrush' a devoted wife and stepsons who had cared for Raymond until he died, out of his life story. A more accurate account is on it's way.

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  • LBanning  |  February 24 2013, 7:03PM

    Just for clarification-in the last 8 years of his life, Raymond had joined the Lib Dems. Like the photo, the information in this article is very out of date. Raymond had been living in Bedford, and very happily married to his devoted wife Lorraine who, along with his step sons Michael and Romeo, looked after him throughout his illness, ensuring he was surrounded by love and music.

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  • LBanning  |  February 24 2013, 2:06PM

    Being a ''supporter of the underdog'', when he was first diagnosed with Pick's Disease (a type of early onset dementia), Raymond expressed a strong desire to help raise awareness about this little known condition. He wanted to ensure that patients and caregivers were given the help and support they need as there is very little out there and patients and their families often face a huge battle, not just with the dreadful effects of the disease, but with having to fight for every bit of help needed (usually whislst the primary carer is trying to hold onto a job and their home as this disease usually strikes people who are still of working age and who have younger families). It was Raymond's wish that I, his wife, continue to promote awareness of this condition and campaign for support, understanding and awareness. Raymond, having been such a highly respected and talented musician, was acutely aware of the stigma that surrounds a diagnosis of DEMENTIA, and aware that his story should be told. He did not want to feel ashamed or embarassed and he did not want others to feel that they had to sweep this under the carpet. He wanted to stand up and speak out about the issues that people with this disease face and now I intend to honour that wish by continuing to work with the support groups and patients in any way I can in the hope that we can change things, promote awareness and in this way ensure that patients and their families do not feel so alone. Dementia is not a dirty word, it is real, it affects so many families, denial does not help, only by facing the problem and all the difficulties and losses it brings will we begin to create a better outcome for sufferers of this dreadful disease.

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  • LBanning  |  February 23 2013, 11:29PM

    The lawyer that fought to bring Raymond home chose this to read at Raymond's funeral, it is vey apt. The Greatest Gift 13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

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  • LBanning  |  February 23 2013, 11:25PM

    As Raymond's wife and partner (since 2006) I think it does Raymond a great dishonour not to acknowledge my existence. I loved Raymond with all my heart both before and during his dementia. I loved and cared for him until the day he died, ensuring that he had everything he wanted and needed. Raymond described me as ' soul mate' and would be devastated to see these attempts to erase me and the boys and what he described as the happiest years of his life. Before he was ill Raymond and I were inseperable, living and working together, totally in love and incredibly happy. The bond of music helped us through the difficult times when RAymond was no longer able to communicate very well verbally nor to understand the world around him, I was still able to go into his world and we continued to play the piano together until two weeks before he died when he became bed bound. Those who know Raymond will know that he had a huge social conscience and therefore he would also not want to brush the disease under the carpet. but would want what happened to him (being deprived of his liberty in a nursing home for almost a year) to make a difference to others. He would want his story to be heard and not to be denied for this is just as important a part of his life as what went before. In 2010 RAymond was diagnosed with PIck's Disease also known as Frontotemporal Demenia, it is a rapidly progressing (sometimes genetic) early onset dementia for which there is no treatment and no cure. Very quickly personality changes develop and then later on the phsyical symptoms appear, eventually walking, talking and swallowing all become very diffiuclt. There were two things that remained, they were Raymond's musical ability (though not to the level it had been) and his love for us and his home. Sadly, there were those who chose to try and keep him from his home, his wife,step sons and music, but thankfully (at great cost but worth every penny)not one, but two of the country's most eminent specialsts agreed that this was a dreadful injustice and that Raymond belonged at home with us and his music. Thankfully he made it home in time to have 2 and a half happy months before he succumbed to the final symptoms of the disease. Great injustices were done to Raymond during his illness and those are now being addressed, in his name and in honour of his memory, I will do as he wished and continue to fight to make a difference to the way that people with this dreadful disease are cared for, in this way, he will not have suffered in vain, it is what he wanted. Whilst it is of course, lovely to remember the great talent that Raymond was and the great work that he did when he was well, it is also lovely to celebrate the personal happiness he found with me his wife and his step sons and the great friends he made here in Bedford who stood by him through his illness when I am sorry to say, many did not. It is mentioned here that Raymond championed mental health by raising money for charity, yes, he did and what a terrible irony that he then suffered a disease which caused mental health symptoms, and what a great tragedy that this man who fought and supported such causes could not get the support he needed when this dreadful illness struck. What a tragedy that a man who felt so strongly about such issues was desserted by many who were happy to bask in his glory and success but rejected him in his darkest hour. We tried to love him even more inthe hope that he would not dwell on the rejection. Until I take my very last breath I will never stop loving the wonderful man who I was so proud to call my husband. I would do it all again for one more moment with him. Love never dies.

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  • LBanning  |  February 23 2013, 11:01PM

    I would also like to add that his step sons, Michael and Romeo who gave their mother away when she married Raymond and some 5 years later, carried his coffin for his funeral, made the most moving tribute to him and greive for hiim every day. They looked after him when he was ill, they helped feed and toilet him, they played games and talked to him, they pushed him in his wheelchair. They treated him with love, dignity and respect. Romeo played the piano to him, Michael contined to talk to him about films and music, they accepted that he had to come first and they were with him until the day he died. Their hearts are broken too, do not deny their existence, they gave Raymond love, security, dignity and respect when he most needed it. Oh it is very easy to have great respect when someone is on top of their game, but not so easy when they begin to lose their faculties, for us there was never any question about what we wanted to do for Raymond, he was still Raymond to us and we refuse to have our existence and importance in his life denied. Everyone who was here in Bedford knows the truth of how we stood by him and loved and cared for him, to deny this is utterly cruel. Raymond adored us and would be completely horrified.

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