For the 25th consecutive year, the Reading Central Corps of the Salvation Army organized a Civic Carol Concert. The two performances, held on 29 November 2003 at the The Hexagon, had a combined audience of over 2,500. Special invited guests included the Deputy Lord-Lieutenant of Berkshire, Sir Peter Phillips; and the Mayor of Reading, Councillor Jeanette Skeats. Also attending were former commanders of the local Salvation Army unit who were a part of previous events. The event, sponsored by a number of local businesses, raised £20,000 in support of the local Salvation Army, Macmillan Cancer Support, the Mayor of Reading’s Charitable Fund, and a church counseling group, the Philippi Trust.
Leading the festivities was Professor Gervaise Phinn, a noted authority on children’s reading issues. Musical guests included Barbara and Steve Allen from Pasadena Tabernacle in California, and xylophonist Sara Bright, accompanied by Songster Leader Joy Lawrence, from Boscombe. The Reading Central Band, under the direction of Bandmaster Paul Mortlock (who has participated in all 25 of the annual events) presented Christmas Festival, accompanied the audience for several carols, and supported a timbrel group. The corps Songster Brigade and a specially-formed Youth Chorus also presented items. The primary children of the corps enacted a Nativity scene. The commanding officer at Reading Central, Major Samuel Edgar, offered a Christmas message.
This year’s event was organized by a group led by Crispin Hills. Over the 25 years that the Salvation Army has held this event, it has become an important part of Reading’s Christmas celebrations, including a mention by the Borough Council in the official Reading booklet.
Reading Central Corps web site