Alf’s Retirement Celebration

A capacity crowd filled Sheffield Citadel as the Band celebrated Alf Wileman’s 66years of Banding Service.  People travelled the length & breadth of the country to be there, such is the high level of regard of so many who have been encouraged and influenced by Alf particularly through his work with young people.  The congregation comprisedcurrent members of the Corps family, as well as a number of former Bandsmen and many of the “old” South Yorkshire division youth.

The evening commenced with the march Celebration – a fitting opener, during which former Bandsmen were invited to march into the hall behind the Band flag.  It was a tremendous sight and good to see so many people gathered together in recognition of all that Alf has done over the past 7 decades.

The evening was not just a celebration about Alf, but in this, the Band’s 130th anniversary year, it also celebrated the Band as a whole and the service of those who have gone before.  2 recent retirees from the Band: Roland Hill and Harold Fisher, were recognised for their services to Banding, having clocked up over 100 years between them.  Also, Barry Furmidge was enrolled as a Bandsman – Barry was taught to play many years ago by Alf and so it was fitting that he was commissioned into the Band as Alf retired.

Music during the evening had been chosen by Alf and included old favourite “Army of the Brave”, the classic “Constant Trust” and the contemporary “Glorifico Aeternum” which was enhanced with a helpful visual presentation and received rapturous applause from the congregation.

Alf’s youngest son, Andrew, presented the vocal solo “it’s been a wonderful day” and his daughter Hannah read a poem about Alf which she had written especially for the occasion.

Derick Kane was the guest soloist and conductor for the evening and he delighted the congregation with his renditions of “Bravura”, “Donegal Bay” and Alf’s request “Song of the Brother”.  Alf and Derick also blessedthe congregation with their sensitive playing of the euphonium duet “Brahms Lullaby”, bringing a tear to many eyes.

Messages had been received from around the world, from family, friends and former band colleagues, and a selection of these were presented during the evening: Maisie Wiggins congratulated Alf on his years of loyal service and added that his influence had been invaluable to so many people; Trombonist Nick Hudson, who was taught to play by Alf when he was a child, had many memories of time spent with Alf.  He spoke of the huge impact which Alf had had on his own life and added that no-one “deserves more recognition for their services to Salvation Army brass playing and services to young people.”

In his words of recognition to Alf, Bandmaster Keith Wileman told how he was privileged to represent all the Bandmasters under whom Alf has served over the many years and said how Alf’s playing has remained at a very high standard for all of those 66 years.  He added that Alf never complained and had never missed a beat on the march, no matter how far the Band was marching!

After receiving a standing ovation from the congregation, Alf, clearly moved, told how he has always had “a calling to be a Salvation Army Bandsman” and how he has strived to serve his Lord through his euphonium playing.  The influence he has had on so many people during that time cannot be measured but the love and appreciation for “the greatest Bandleader in the world” could clearly be seen in the faces of all those present.

More photos are available on our Facebook Group page

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September 2011
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