On 22 October 2016, the night after a successful concert at Hayling Island (Report), the Solent Fellowship Band held a dinner in celebration of the band’s 20th anniversary. Some 56 or so current and former members, with their partners, sat down in lovely surroundings at the Southampton Sholing Corps. The dinner was arranged by Bandmaster Dan Redhead and cooked by the excellent chef for the evening, Stephen Shaw, who also plays solo cornet in the Southampton Sholing Corps Band.
In his introductions, Bandmaster Redhead acknowledged the presence of Dennis Rudd, the last founding member of the band who is still playing, and former band secretary Don Ellwood, who had much to do with the founding of the band. Retired Bandmaster John Bird (now serving as the associate conductor) paid tribute to retired Deputy Bandmaster David Samuels for his contribution to the life of the band and presented him with a Certificate of Honorary Membership in recognition of his exceptional service.
The speaker for the evening was Colonel Neill Webb, Under Secretary for the Europe Zone at International Headquarters. His talk might well have been titled “Have Cornet, Will Travel” as he spoke of his love of Salvation Army banding and his delight when he is able to play at any time with any group.
Colonel Webb relayed several stories, highlights of which included a generous donation of instruments by Australian Salvationists which enabled himself and others in Papua New Guinea to transform a struggling group of 5 or 6 players into two bands of 23, with senior and junior bands sharing instruments. Composer Kenneth Downie gave a composition to this group to play at meetings held in the country by General Linda Bond. He also spoke of members of the Brisbane City Temple Band who traveled to the Solomon Islands at their own expense to support the opening meetings of the Salvation Army there. A third story told of a special occasion at a square in Athens, where a Salvation Army band played to Afghan refugees, and how the children had stood in awe as they heard for the first time music played by live musicians, something strictly forbidden by the Taliban in their own country.
He also spoke of the special role of Salvationist musicians, acknowledging the musicianship, comradeship, and fellowship, but also saying that the dissemination of the Gospel message is still their primary function. He stated that the Solent Fellowship Band had in its twenty years fulfilled the role of all Salvation Army bands, entertaining with its music, raising money for good causes, but always proclaiming a vibrant Christian message.
Solent Fellowship Band web site