100th Birthday Celebration

A capacity audience attended an evening of music commemorating the 100th birthday of Lt.-Colonel Eileen Thomas on 21 April 2012 at Royal Tunbridge Wells Corps. The surprise event, organized by members of her family, was supported by the South London Fellowship Band (Bandmaster Major George Whittingham) and special guests Nigel Parrington (Chief Executive, Salvation Army Housing Association), Major James Williams (Retired Officers Secretary, Territorial Headquarters), and Lt.-Colonels Anthony and Gillian Cotterill (Divisional Commanders, London South-East).

The Fellowship Band provided a varied and delightful program, starting with the rousing march The Witness, in recognition of the Witness session from which Lt.-Col. Thomas was commissioned in 1934. Other contributions from the band included Overture from “The Magic Flute”, Songs of the Morning, and I’ll Walk with God.

Several of the Fellowship Band’s soloists were featured, including Darrell Scholes (cornet) playing Zelda, Roger Gadsden (horn) playing Mozart’s 4th Horn Concerto, and Ken Bonsor-Ward (euphonium) playing Ransomed.

Vocal items included You Raise Me Up, sung by Les Swift, and two pieces sung by the Fellowship Band, Sound the Battle Cry and Rock of Ages. The latter item, in particular, brought a great blessing.

The audience was also encouraged to participate, with the congregational songs “Lord for the Years” and “God’s Soldier”, and the Fellowship Band’s presentation of A Glenn Miller Collection.

The Bible reading and devotional thought was presented by Roger Gadsden, reviewing the vast changes in the world over the past 100 years, but also reminding all present that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Nigel Parrington gave a tribute and Major Williams extended words of congratulations on behalf of the Chief of the Staff (Commissioner Barry Swanson) and the Territorial Commander (Commissioner John Matear).

The highlight of the evening was when Lt-Col. Thomas gave humbling words of thanks, expressing her joy at how much God has blessed her in her life and how those blessings continue each and every day.

An appeal was made by Major Williams in aid of the continuing work at Sunset Lodge and Charles Court, with £770 raised from the evening’s collection.

South London Fellowship Band web site, original report by Chris Hunt, Royal Tunbridge Wells Corps