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Norfolk musical church duo honoured by Queen

Two Norfolk Christian musicians have been recognised in the New Year’s Honours List for their services to music and bell-ringing.

 
John Gibson has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to music through the Norwich Salvation Army Citadel and its renowned Citadel Band.
 
As Bandmaster for some 37 years, John Gibson (91) was really the architect of the Band as it is known today. As a young man of 27 he assumed leadership of the Norwich Citadel Band and immediately began to lay the foundations, training his bandsmen in musicality and interpretation.
 
According to the Band’s website: “The Band has been so fortunate to have had such a sensitive and gifted musician leading them for 37 years.”
 
During his working years, John was Head of Brass for Norfolk Education and was a well-known figure in the Norfolk music scene, conducting the Norfolk Symphonic Wind Band. He was a former Royal Marine, who served in the Arctic, Mediterranean, Far East and the Atlantic during the second world war.
 
During his leadership the Band were privileged on three occasions to give performances at London's Royal Albert Hall and also another at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Overseas tours were made to the Netherlands (1959), Sweden (1971) and the USA and Canada (1985) in addition to making several recordings, TV and radio broadcasts.
 
John (or Jack as he is known to his friends) continues to encourage and support the bandsmen and women of today.  With his wife Jean, in retirement, they continue in to worship at Norwich Citadel. John, who lives in Sprowston, said he was “very, very pleased” and “extremely surprised and honoured” to receive the medal.
 
www.norwichcitadelband.org.uk
 
Elizabeth Baines, a dedicated bellringer for more than 50 years, has been made an MBE for services to bell ringing in Norfolk and North Suffolk.
 
Elizabeth, better known as Betty, has dedicated her free time to ringing since the age of 11, and now teaches and encourages new recruits and raises funds for charity, based at St Mary’s Church in Diss.
 
The 67-year-old, from Walcot Green in Diss, told the EDP: “It’s just fantastic – I couldn’t believe it, it’s such an honour. I think probably the reason I’ve got it is for teaching and encouraging people to take up bellringing and to continue with it and improve. It’s not a thing which gets very much publicity really but it’s not just that you’re ringing the bells and calling people to worship, it’s the friendship with it.”
 
Betty married Tony, a well-known bellhanger and a former Norwich Diocesan Bells Advisor, at Danehill in East Sussex in 1965, after teaching him to bellring.
 
The couple moved to Norfolk in 1970 where they brought up their family at Algars Farm on the outskirts of Diss, which they lovingly restored.  Tony died in January this year.
 
Pictured above is John Gibson with the Norwich Citadel Band prior to a tour of Sweden in 1971. Picture courtesy of Norwich Citadel Band.


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