Christian Aid Week, Deddington 11 May 2024

We were delighted to support the launch of this year’s Christian Aid week at St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church, Deddington on Saturday 11 May. To begin, we enjoyed conversation over a fantastic bring and share lunch, followed by some of our music. The main event featured an introduction to this year’s Christian Aid appeal by the Revd. Canon Christopher Hall, supported by a video about the challenges facing the people of Burundi. After this, Richard spoke about his experiences of working with rural communities in Burundi between 2013 and 2016. In particular, he shared details of a remarkable self-directed project by community members that led to dramatic reductions in child malnutrition.

Richard talks about community-led solutions to malnutrition in Burundi, East Africa

We played again after Richard’s talk and as ever, Donald encouraged us all to sing along. Our grateful thanks to Christopher and Viviane Hall, long-time champions and organisers of Christian Aid week in Deddington, Iain Gillespie for great technical support, Sarah Banes for help with setting-up, Revd Nick Fielden, Vicar, Stan Nelson, Church Warden and everyone that made this such a special occasion (food, conversation, singing and support for the event).

The band (L to R) Richard, Rachel, Thabo and Donald flanked by Jenny (on the left) and Judy (on the right)

St Mary Magdalene, Duns Tew, Oxfordshire: Burns Night supper, 27 January 2024

We were delighted to play at a Burns Night supper fundraising event in Duns Tew village hall on 27 January. The event was beautifully organised by Clare and team with lovely food and refreshments. I think it’s the first time that we’ve had a table set for us (complete with candle) on the stage and so we were literally the top table! Thank you Clare and St Mary Magdalene church for your kindness and hospitality, we really enjoyed the night.

Our thanks to Clare and team: (left to right): Richard, Clare, Rachel, Thabo, Julie, Donald, Toni

Organiser Clare writes: What a fabulous, joyful evening you gave us yesterday! Thank you so much. We so enjoyed the different style sets of music. I particularly enjoyed the Gospel set and the chance to sing along with the chorus.  Such a lovely and, as you said, prayerful, chance to sing with others. You never know what journeys might be started, as a result. We loved the way you addressed the haggis, too! It was lots of fun. We haven’t totted everything up, but profits are looking to be in the region of £600. We have recently applied to the Diocese to plumb in a kitchen sink in our church. This will make catering for after-service teas and coffees easier. We thought we had enough to cover it, but costs have gone up a bit since we got quotes originally, so this extra income will ensure we can afford to do the work.

All Saints Mollington fund-raising concert, Friday 15 December 2023

Our Gospel Bell goal is to play and help fund-raise in ancient and beautiful churches, some of which are battling to survive. The earliest parts of the Church of England parish church of All Saints, Mollington, Oxfordshire date from the 14th century and the font is 13th century so there may have been an earlier church building on the site.

We have played at All Saints Mollington on numerous occasions in support of the local church team and the previous Vicar of the Shires Edge Benefice, Revd Hilary Campbell, who asked us to play in all five of her churches and so we were delighted to be invited back by church treasurer, Mike. In fact, Mike invited us to play almost 12 months ago in November 2022 – he was that keen!

On Friday 15 December, we enjoyed a truly memorable evening of singing together and we’d like to thank Mike, Bob and the All Saints team for a really well organised event. Mike writes: Many thanks again to Gospel Bell for last night’s performance.  It really was a lovely, joyous evening. You are the most genuine and generous group we could hope to meet.  We raised over £260 and, as a certain supermarket advert says: every little helps!

Left to right: Andrew, Donald, Thabo and Richard – thank you to the All Saints team for a joyful evening!

The Friends’ of St Marys Christmas Concert, Saturday 9 December 2023

Our thanks to Becky, Ian and all who helped to make the Christmas Concert fundraising event for St Mary’s Bloxham such a lovely evening. The first half consisted of a wide range of Christmas-themed music performed by the St Mary’s Choir, Music Group and soloists, with audience participation. After the refreshment interval, we played a 50 minute set with excellent audience chorus singing. A fantastic evening with a rich array of music in a beautiful setting!

Left to right: Toni, Julie, Donald and Richard

Ian, Chair – Friends of St Mary’s Bloxham writes:

Your set was clearly greatly enjoyed by the audience and nicely complemented the first half from the church choir and music group. Sitting as I was near the back I had a good sense of the toe-tapping and sing-a-long you were generating amongst the masses in front of me! Funds raised from the evening are climbing towards £500 which is good considering this was a donations-only event on a rather blustery, inhospitable evening, and this has been a significant element of a varied Friends’ Christmas Programme of fundraising activities. Thanks again for putting heart and soul into performing to help us as you’ve done. It’s really appreciated.

Fundraiser for the Quaker meeting house Sibford Gower, Oxfordshire, Saturday 18 November

Our thanks to Megan, Adrian and all the team for inviting us to play for you last night. Adrian and Andy (Main Street) were excellent and I have never seen such an incredible spread of home made cakes! The meeting house is such a beautiful space and with the use of Adrian’s rather bigger PA (Thank you Adrian) we were quite loud and clear – one small boy on the front row sat there with his hands over his ears for our entire performance (we must suggest that people try that!) but no one else said we were too loud – and I especially enjoyed the children dressed as Angels (I think!) who were dancing at the front. Well done to the whole team – 77 people came (even though we were competing with Strictly Come Dancing on the TV) everyone sang really well and the event raised more than £400.

Thank you for a fun evening!

Here we are attempting surround sound singing to encourage the community singing!

Elmwood United Reformed Church, Saturday 4 November 2023

Donald and Richard joined by Omar playing harmonica and saxophone played at a fund-raising event in Birmingham on Saturday 4 November. The appeal raised £550 in donations to Christian Aid to support emergency aid for victims of conflict in Palestine and Israel.

Our thanks to event organiser Richard Becher and the team at Elmwood URC for a warm welcome and excellent samosas served during the interval!

Left to right: Richard, Donald, Virginia, Richard and Omar

Erdington Abbey Church Centre, Birmingham, Friday 29 September 2023

Parish Priest Fr Kieran Brady writes: The Parish of St Thomas & St Edmund of Canterbury, affectionately known as ‘The Abbey’ is located in the suburb of Erdington in the Northern part of the City of Birmingham. Here we share our faith with the many cultures and nationalities in the Erdington Abbey Parish Community. The Abbey was built in 1850 and currently requires considerable internal and external repair and restoration work. Given this, we were delighted to assist by playing at a restoration fundraising event on Friday 29 September. More than 100 people came to the concert and proceeds from ticket sales, the raffle and bar sales totalled £1,000. What a great contribution to the appeal! Not only that, but we had a fantastic evening together.

Gospel Bell about six feet from the ground at the restoration fundraiser for The Abbey

Hanwell St Peter Pet Service, Sunday 17 September 2023

Our thanks to Rev. Alicia Baker and her colleague Rev. Guy (who stood in for me on bass while I was in California!) for inviting Gospel Bell to play at a Service of Animal Blessing and Harvest Festival at Hanwell St. Peter on Sunday 17 September 2023. We’ve played a few Pet service events now and the animals that come along (with their owners) seem to know that this is for them – they always seem to be engaging with our music and Donald’s pet-theme talks. As I returned from the USA later that day, it was lovely to see the photos and the picture below of Toni with a toe-tapping tortoise is my favourite!

Thank you Alicia, Guy and all creatures great and small for supporting the event.

Leprosy Mission fundraiser, United Reformed Church, Broadway, 19 August, 2023

Every two minutes, someone is diagnosed with leprosy. That’s more than 200,000 new cases a year. Although it is curable, millions of people worldwide are living with the effects of the disease, from physical disability to mental health problems, poverty and discrimination. Given these horrifying stats., we were pleased to support the fund-raising efforts of the United Reformed Church (URC) Broadway on Saturday 19 August. The URC Broadway building is such a beautiful space in which to play and with the front doors open, we could see the reactions of all those passing by and a few people came inside to listen. After playing for an hour, we ate cakes for an hour! Thank you for the invite and the opportunity to support this important cause.

Cropredy Festival lunchtime concert 10 August 2023

The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Cropredy has a long and interesting history. The South Aisle dates from as early as 1050. The Sanctuary in it’s present form dates from the 14th century. The lower stage of the tower dates from 15th century and the belfry was added about 80 years later. The clock, with it’s 14ft long wooden pendulum dates from 1831. The tower has 8 bells, six of which were installed in the 17th century and the last two, Fairport and Villager were added as recently as 2007. These bells were named to reflect the good relationship between the church and local Fairport Convention annual festival.

Our thanks to churchwarden Verna Wass for inviting us back to play at the St Mary’s Cropredy Festival lunchtime concert. Opening each year at 12 noon, we think we are probably the first band to play anywhere in Cropredy during the Festival weekend and as we began to play, the sun shone on the Festival goers! Our thanks to all at St Mary’s and in particular Verna and Stephen for the opportunity to play at and share in these unique lunchtime concert event with excellent music and hospitality.

Left to right: Donald, Richard, Thabo and Rachel outside St Mary the Virgin, Cropredy