HISTORY OF THE SOLENT FELLOWSHIP BAND

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Fellowship Bands have been in existence in the United Kingdom Territory of the Salvation Army for many years. However membership of these bands was restricted to Band Reservist and active members of corps bands of a mature age.

During the 1990’s radical changes were made to the regulations that govern the membership of music sections within the Salvation Army. These changes would make it possible for salvationist musicians who for business and family reasons were unable to give the commitment required to be a member of a corps band, and salvationists who were playing members of ‘Non-Army bands’, would once again have the opportunity to enjoy music making and Christian fellowship in the environment of a Salvation Army band.

With the changes made it appeared that there was considerable interest in creating a Fellowship Band in the Solent area of the Southern Division of the Salvation Army.

Following consultation with the then Divisional Commander, Lieutenant – Colonel John Pearce-Hayden it was agreed that a series of rehearsals would take place before making the decision to form a band. The legendary Retired Bandmaster Harold Nobes who led Portsmouth Citadel Band for over forty years with such great distinction was invited to conduct the rehearsals. Following just two rehearsals, it was decided that a competent band could be formed.

On 25th October 1996, Lieutenant – Colonel John Pearce Hayden inaugurated the Solent Fellowship Band with a membership of 27. Harold Nobes was appointed Bandmaster. Instigating force, Don Ellwood was also appointed as Band Secretary.

In 1998, with the band now established Harold Nobes decided that it was time for him to relinquish the leadership, and David Mallett was appointed the new Bandmaster. Harold retained his interest in the band and acted as deputy to David for a number of years.

David relinquished his leadership of the band in 2006 and Chris Kennett the band’s Associate Conductor was appointed Bandmaster in January 2007 and continued in office until his retirement in January 2011.

John Bird who was appointed to succeed Chris is a talented musician with a wealth of experience having been Songster Leader at Portsmouth Citadel for many years, prior to which he served for six years as Young Peoples Band Leader at Portsmouth Citadel and three years as Bandmaster of Southampton Sholing Band. He retired from the position of Bandmaster of The Fellowship band in 2016 and subsequently agreed to be the bands associate conductor.

Dan Redhead took over the leadership in March 2016. Dan had previously been the bands Deputy Bandmaster and Principal Euphonium. He is also the Deputy Bandmaster at Sholing Salvation Army and owns a music shop 'Becketts' in Southampton.

Since its formation the band has undertaken a full programme of concerts each year, playing in many Salvation Army centres, Churches and Concert halls in the South of England and London, raising thousands of pounds for International, National and Local Charities as well as Salvation Army projects. At the end of 2015 the band undertook a very rewarding tour of Estonia and The Salvation Army work there in that Baltic State. The band has also recorded two CD 'Albums' of its music in recent years. In addition the band receive regular invitations to provide music for events organised by Divisional Headquarters.

During December each year, the band takes part in Carol Concerts and Carol Services for various societies and organisations.

Over the past twenty one years there have been many highlights, including the privilege of playing in St John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth and the magnificent Romsey Abbey, not to mention The Regent Hall in Londons Oxford Street and perhaps best of all touring Estonia in Scandinavia.

The band has a current playing membership of over forty which includes one of the founder members. It is interesting to note that since its inauguration, and unlike most other fellowship bands, the band has always had a wide age range. Thirteen Salvation Army corps have been represented within the band, Alton, Andover, Hedge End, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth Citadel, Southampton Shirley, Southampton Sholing, Southsea Citadel, Bognor, Gosport, Eastleigh and Winchester. In recent years the average age has fallen dramatically and is now younger than most corps bands!