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

Music in a Field Festival, Belle Isle Farm, Hook Norton, Saturday 22 July 2023

Megan, Adrian and Megan’s family have been hosting their lovely ‘Music in a Field Festival’ – completely free of charge for seven years and this is the first time it has rained on Festival day. Given the persistent rain, Donald and I arrived early to double-check that the event was still happening and yes it was – everyone was busy doing all they could to make this a joyful, family event – rain or not! The other bands, duos and solo artists playing on two trailer stages were all excellent as were our friends, ‘Sharp and Blunt’ one of the three Adderbury Morris dancing sides.

As several of the bands scheduled to play had pulled out due to the weather, we were given an hour-long slot and from our vantage point on the trailer stage it was lovely to see children and adults dancing along as we played – it even stopped raining!! We also had an amazing view of the surrounding countryside and we couldn’t help noticing that the nearest herd of cows weren’t dancing – they were wisely keeping their dry spot dry.

Gospel Bell: Left to right: Thabo, Richard, Julie, Toni and Donald

Our grateful thanks to Megan and Adrian for the invitation to play and for making us feel so welcome. We’ll look forward to coming back when the sun is shining!

Richard Teare

Shipston Proms at The White Hart, Newbold on Stour, Saturday 17 June 2023

The annual Shipston Proms (17 June–1 July) is organised by volunteers and this year, features more than 40 acts ranging from ska to opera. We were really pleased to have been invited by lead organiser Charlotte Haines, to play on the opening night of this festival of music billed as ‘from Classical to Heavy Rock’. The volunteer representing the Shipston Proms arrived early at our event and stayed until the end – singing along with everyone else in the main bar of the White Horse. This lady told us that the organisers had said she need only pop in for a short visit but she stayed on and later wrote on the Shipston Proms Facebook page: The Gospel Bell Blues Band sounded brilliant at The White Hart in Newbold this evening! Thanks so much for the feedback and to everyone who came and sang with us – it was a lovely event.

Left to right: Richard, Donald, John (Landlord) and Toni

We’d also like to thank our friend, landlord John Harkin for hosting us and David Hucker who took at least one of the photos on our Facebook page.

Silver Bough at Talton House, Newbold on Stour, Warwickshire Friday 16 June 2023

We always enjoy playing Ceilidhs at Talton House and last night, we played outside with joyful dancing on the lawn! There have been dwellings at Talton House since before the Middle Ages. At the time of the Domesday book, Talton belonged to the church; there are traces of a medieval building (in the larder), and a Tudor farmhouse (in the attic). The main body of the House was built in 1714, the same year the false acacia tree was planted on the lawn. This tree is on the register of ancient trees. The Hall and first floor of the Wing are Victorian, and it was at this time that the park landscaping was carried out (ie. Many of the lime and chestnuts planted, and the water in front of the House made ornamental).

Music in the garden with (left to right) Julie, Jackie, Donald, Toni and Richard

Our thanks to the residential group who booked us to play and danced with much enthusiasm and to all the team at Talton, led by Olivia and Barney Hatch.

St John the Baptist, Bodicote, Friday 12 May 2023

The Parish Church of St John the Baptist has been a key part of Bodicote for over 800 years, supporting the community and enabling and encouraging people to worship God through prayer and services. The church serves a parish with a greatly increasing population that includes the original centre of Bodicote, together with much of Cherwell Heights and the new housing on Longford Park.

On Friday 12 May, we returned to play a fund-raising concert and as with last year, the Vicar, The Revd Sarah Sharp, Curate Revd Nick Fielden and ticket sales supremo Helen Hall made us feel very welcome. It was a joyful evening of singing together and the event raised £549.50 to help sustain the ministry of the church. Our thanks to Sarah, Nick, Helen and the whole team for a super evening, we’ll look forward to coming back again in 2024!

Photo left to right: Donald, Sarah, Toni, Nick, Thabo and Richard, Bodicote, Friday 12 May 2023