Norwich couple celebrate 50 years of marriage
A Norwich Christian couple have celebrated 50 years of marriage and 40 years of serving the community through a church they founded, at a surprise party and musical tribute featuring the well-known All Souls Orchestra. Les Champion reports.
The golden wedding celebration in September of David and Ruth Southgate from Hellesdon was an amazing evening of tribute to their commitment and dedication over 50 years to serving and strengthening the bonds of community in Hellesdon and the city. Much of this has been engaging and encouraging people of all ages through music – both orchestral and from musicals.
The evening took about 18 months of secret planning by David and Ruth’s four sons and eight grandchildren, and as David said afterwards: “We knew something was planned, but this was beyond our wildest dreams.”
Around 300 friends and family gathered at Soul Church in Mason Road on September 13 to enjoy a well presented multi-media evening of music and song from across the years and of many styles, compered by their eldest son Andrew.
A lot of the music for the evening was provided by the All Souls Orchestra of Langham Place in London. It was augmented by local musicians and led by their energetic and irrepressible Director of Music Noel Tredinnick. Noel and many of the orchestra have become much loved friends of David and Ruth over many years of putting on Prom Praise events in Norwich, working in partnership with them.
The evening paid tribute to David and Ruth using narrative, music, videos, pre-recorded messages and live testimony. It told of how, with the support of others, they had established Meadow Way Chapel in Hellesdon in the early 1970s. Starting with a tent mission, then moving into a mobile classroom and evenutally the current building, guests heard how they have diligently and unpretentiously served the community.
They have been involved in children’s work and supporting the elderly, but it has predominantly been through music that they have continuously shared the good news of Jesus. Guests also learned of the many events they have put on, including most of Roger Jones’ musicals, who was also at the event to lead a small choir singing three of his songs. There was even a video message from the singer Jonathan Viera, a man of faith, fun and humour etc, with whom David and Ruth have become friends over the years.
Highlights of the evening were a video of their grandchildren performing Abba’s famous ‘Thank you for the music’ and the live performance from the boy band ‘David’s Boys’ singing their own tribute to their Mum and Dad. The latter had an additional surprise with their son Peter playing the piano, which he had learned especially for the occasion.
The impact of the evening was the transparent love and honour with which these four sons, all married men, established in life, occupation and family, regarded their parents. Also David and Ruth’s commitment to serving the community of Hellesdon particularly in many ways is incalculable.
At the end of the evening David took the opportunity to thank everyone for their love and support and told us: “…...our purpose in everything has been to bring glory to God for all He has done for myself and Ruth.”
Pictured above are David and Ruth Southgate cutting a celebration cake and the All Souls Orchestra watched by David and Ruth.