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U.S. teen marches in her great-grandfather's royal trumpeter footsteps

American accents were in abundance at the London New Year's Day Parade. Not just amongst the spectators lining the streets, but more often from the more than two dozen American marching bands and cheerleading groups marching the 2.2 mile route from the Ritz Hotel from London's Green Park, to Parliament Square.

"Getting to celebrate New Year's in this wonderful city, with wonderful people, is an amazing opportunity," says Mary Kamitsuka, a tuba player from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.

This opportunity is more amazing for two Americans from Desert Mountain High School Marching Band in Scottsdale, Arizona. Freshman trumpet player Ashley Irvin and the band's director Michelle Irvin - also Ashley's mother - have a royal British connection.

"My great-grandfather was the king's royal trumpeter," says 14-year old Ashley. "It feels awesome to know that my great-grandfather was able to walk down these streets and play for everyone."

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Ashley Irvin, left, at the New Year's Day Parade in London.

CBS News

Parade organizers say that Irvin's great-grandfather was Harry Valentine, a British national who served in the British military, and was keen enough of a horn player that he became a royal trumpeter for King George VI. Ashley and Michelle Irvin marched along the same parade route that Valentine did 78 years ago, when Valentine took part in the royal procession marking the start of King George VI's reign.

"I just feel him with me, when Ashley plays. I kind of feel like he's coming through her," says Michelle Irvin, Desert Mountain's band director.

Ashley told CBS News that her grandmother would tell her stories about Valentine, who stuck to his duties playing outdoors, even during World War II air and bombing raids over Britain.

"My grandma would say, 'You know, your great-grandfather was shaking at the time! He would continue playing but he could hear everybody else shaking in fear as the planes were flying past,'" Ashley says while holding her trumpet to her lips and looking nervously toward the sky.

The cannon fire on New Year's Day 2015 was confetti being shot over the bands as they made their way through the central London parade route. This year's parade hosted more than 8,000 performers, including 1,000 cheerleaders and the University of Texas Longhorn Alumni Band's "Big Bertha" - a more than eight-foot-high marching band drum billed as the world's largest. Fourteen U.S. states were represented in the London parade, now in its 29th year.

Follow Alphonso Van Marsh on Twitter: @AlphonsoVM