Penrith flute teacher and international performer

Date: Monday 31st December 2018

FORMER flute teacher and international performer Kenneth Reginald Pullen, of Tirril, has died, aged 91.

Mr Pullen taught pupils of both Penrith’s Queen Elizabeth Grammar and Hunter Hall schools from the late 1980s until his retirement in 2000.

This followed a career in the Central Band of the Royal Air Force which saw him perform all over the world and for members of the royal family.

Born on 9th October, 1927, in Bookham, Surrey, Mr Pullen was the son of a greengrocer and one of three brothers. As a teenager he became an apprentice toolmaker and engineer but in his spare time, encouraged by local musicians, he began to teach himself to play the flute.

Entirely self-taught, he became an accomplished flautist and began performing a relatively short time after learning the instrument.

In the late 1940s he was called up for national service and sent to Padgate, Lancashire, where he joined the regional band. It was during this time that he met his wife, Hilda, who hailed from Manchester.

The couple married in 1949 and in 1952 their son Roger — who now lives in Tirril —was born. In 1956 their daughter Val followed to complete their family. Val, whose married surname is Iddiolis, now lives in Vancouver, Canada, inspired by her father’s love of the country where he had performed.

The family moved from Surrey to Poole and in 1957 they relocated to Uxbridge, Middlesex, when Mr Pullen started his music career by joining the RAF Central Band.

Initially he was part of the lower band, B, but was soon promoted to band A which travelled the world performing. This included playing in Singapore, at ceremonial events, the rolling out of the Concorde aeroplane in France, in Yugoslavia, East Berlin and often for the royal family at Buckingham Palace garden parties.

Mr Pullen also performed a piccolo solo in a televised performance from London’s Royal Albert Hall in the 1960s and played in the RAF orchestra many times on the BBC radio concert program Friday Night Is Music Night.

At home he was a regular performer in west London, appearing in many orchestras in a variety of shows such as productions of Gilbert and Sullivan. He also taught in local schools and private students at the family home.

The move to Tirril came in the late 1980s when he stood down from his role with the Central Band. The family had enjoyed holidays in the Lake District for many years and his daughter said he had a great liking for the area where he loved to walk.

It was at this stage that Mr Pullen got involved with local schools and began teaching, often from his home in Tirril. He was a very enthusiastic and skilled teacher, as demonstrated by several of his pupils going on to play the flute professionally.

In 2000, Mr Pullen retired when his wife suffered a stroke and he dedicated his time to helping her recovery.

Throughout his life he had a number of hobbies, including making model aeroplanes which he would fly on Helton Fell. He would always build not from kits but from blueprints of plans, and was part of a model flying club in Penrith.

He used his engineering skills to construct model locomotives using a lathe and had been part of a model engineers’ club prior to the move north.

Throughout his life Mr Pullen was first and foremost a family man who provided his children with a rich and loving upbringing and was a dedicated husband to Hilda.

He was an animal lover, and the family had a menagerie of animals as pets over the years, including a monkey, reptiles, amphibians, cats, dogs and more. He was also a keen gardener.

Mr Pullen died following a short illness. The funeral arrangements were in the care of Richardson’s Funeral Directors, Penrith.