The Marlborough Jazz Festival kicked off this evening with a minute's silence in memory of Robert Hill, head of the Hills Group for more than four decades, who died yesterday.

The Hills Group has sponsored every Marlborough Jazz Festival since its inception 28 years ago.

Festival organiser Nick Fogg said: “We had some very, very sad news yesterday. A very dear friend of myself and many people here, and also a very dear friend of the festival, Robert Hill died yesterday and we’re very, very deeply upset by that and pleased to say some of his family are here for this.”

This was followed by a round of applause in his honour before The Rabbit Foot Spasm Band started the musical side of things.

They were followed by The St John’s Band who got everyone in the festival mood before a special appearance from New Yorker Daryl Sherman, vocalist with the Artie Shaw band.

She said: “I’ve been hearing about this festival for a long time from Nick and I’m so delighted to finally be here.

“I can see with this young group of terrific musicians and all the rest of you and the sunshine that it’s going to be a great weekend and a great way to share music and I’m just honoured to be part of it.”

The audience were then treated to music from Sara Spade and The Noisy Boys before MEP for the South West Ashley Fox officially opened the festival.

He said:  “It’s a great honour to be here for the 28th jazz festival.

“These festivals do not organise themselves, so I want use to show our appreciation to Nick and his team of volunteers who put this together, thank you very much.”