St. Francis School in Fareham is a Severe Learning Disabilities school run by the Hampshire County Council, founded in the 1970s. There are 90 students between the ages of 3 and 19, many of whom have physical disabilities and complex medical conditions.
Deputy Head Teacher Simon Harmer invited the Solent Fellowship Band (Bandmaster John Bird) to play for the children so that they could experience the sound of a brass band compared to other musical groups they had heard.
On Friday, 5 July 2013, a sunny summer morning, an ensemble of the Fellowship Band gathered in the school’s playground together with the children, in their special need chairs and equipment, and the staff. The band commenced with the march Star Lake (Eric Ball), the children eagerly joining in with clapping and shouts of excitement.
Several children took a turn in conducting under the direction of Bandmaster Bird while others played percussion, all in their different ways appreciating the chance to be involved. One young girl, at the close of her conducting session, remarked to the bandmaster, “Thank you, man!”
The band also played Fill the World with Music, Light Up the Sunshine, Praise Party, South Coast and To Regions Fair, interspersed with some appropriate hymn tunes.
This was a most rewarding engagement for the members of the band, all coming away with the desire to repeat the experience. Not only did the children enjoy the bright, fun approach to the music, but the staff of the school thanked the band for giving them the pleasure of seeing the positive reactions of the children and a pleasant musical interlude within the day.
Solent Fellowship Band web site