Visit to Hadleigh Temple – 26 September 2015 – Peter Bale

Bram Chestney Memorial Festival, Hadleigh Temple, 26th September 2015

South London Fellowship Band (Darrell Scholes) & Hadleigh Temple Songsters (Carl Carter)

A festival was arranged at Hadleigh Temple in memory of Bramwell Chestney.  A noted euphonium soloist, Bram had served both as Bandmaster and Songster Leader at the corps, and had been the Principal Euphonium with the South London Fellowship Band for several years.  The band opened the programme with ‘Celebration’ (Leslie Condon) during which the Songsters marched into the hall.

All the songster items were songs that Bram had led during his time in charge, the first two being ‘Where I love to be’ (Trevor Davis) and ‘Jesus Thou joy of loving hearts’ (George Marshall).  Corps officer Major David Woodman welcomed the guests, including the chairman for the evening, former commanding officer Major Noel Wright.  The congregation then joined in a rousing rendition of ‘Storm the forts of darkness’ before the band delighted listeners with ‘Fantasia for Children’ (James Wright).

The lively ‘Jesus saves me’ (Ivor Bosanko) was contrasted with the reflective ‘Remember me’ (Ray Steadman-Allen) before Robin Bryant, who served as Bram’s deputy for many years, shared some memories.  The band’s current principal euphonium, Adrian Horwood then gave an enjoyable account of ‘Better World’ (Norman Bearcroft), despite a few issues between the soloist and band.

Staying with Bearcroft, ‘The Well is Deep’ preceded ‘Easter Glory’ (Leslie Condon), which closed the first half.

Hadleigh Temple Timbrels (Irene Ivory) joined the band for ‘Goldcrest’ (James Anderson), which was followed by the congregation singing ‘Zephaniah’s Song’.

‘To God be the glory’ (Chris Mallett) and ‘Adoration’ (Tom Fettke) led into a tribute from Major George Whittingham, who referred to Bram’s melodic speaking voice, as well as his lyrical sound as a player and his willingness to share in the pastoral ministry with the band.   Chris Carter then gave a well-controlled reading of ‘To a wild rose’ that his grandfather would have been proud of.

‘The Light of the World’ (Dean Goffin) served as a prelude to the scripture thoughts, with Major Wright alluding to the impact Bram had exerted over those around him, and the way that ‘every contact leaves a trace’.  The male voices of the songsters joined with the band to sing ‘I know thee who thou art’ (arr Bearcroft), with its assurance of a better life to come.

The evening, which raised £350 for Cancer Research, closed with the march ‘Light-bringer’ (Martin Cordner), featuring the melodies ‘Send the fire’ and ‘O boundless Salvation’.

Peter Bale