A magical evening with Alton Handbell Ringers and the Denstone College Swing Band, joining together in a charity concert for the Donna Louise Trust, packed Alton Village Hall to capacity on Saturday 2nd December 2017.
Wendy: "What a fantastic evening. The hall was filled with chatter and people enjoying themselves and such a lovely atmosphere. The band were terrific and we thank them for joining us at what is a very busy time for them all. We raised £1,446 for the Donna Louise Children's Hospice."
Jean: “The Village Hall filled with people. They came in their droves. Every nook and cranny and every chair was taken. It was incredible! There was chatter and excitement. It grew louder and heralded the start of an evening to remember.
The lights in the hall were dimmed; only the stage lights shone out over the waiting Denstone Swing Band performers, quiet and still, gathering their calmness and composure. No sign of the handbell Ringers. Where were they?
There was a hushed silence from everyone in the audience, full of expectancy.
In the foyer, nerves were subdued; we were ready to perform!
Wendy raised her wand, we raised our bells and the MAGIC began! As they rang out we gradually processed through the hall, weaving round the tables until we reached our places in front of the stage, our rhythm gathering momentum to lead us in to the beginning of our first piece, ‘Di Tanjong Katong’.
Rapturous applause inspired us as we went on to play ‘Over the Rainbow’ and then ‘Thaxted’, my favourite piece. I felt quite relaxed and completely enthralled by the intricacies and variety of our bell ringing techniques in this arrangement of “I vow to thee my country”. ‘Polaris’ and ‘Three for the Road’ completed our first set.
We were followed by the Denstone Swing Band kicking in, full of life and vibrancy! The young players were incredible, so positive and confident playing their variety of instruments.
After a feast of pie, peas and puddings, the Denstone Swing Band opened the second half, and gave us another immensely enjoyable set of tunes, culminating by raising the roof with ‘Tequila!’.
Now in our red and gold Christmas scarves and red bow ties, we raised our bells again. We burst into laughter as Wendy slowly revealed a large printed smiley face. Feeling lighthearted, we launched into ‘Frosty the Snowman’ and a selection of Christmas tunes, ending with ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ as a grand choral finale for the audience to join in, which they did lustily.
Our Christmas concert was an outstanding success! Everyone was uplifted, happy and smiling to the very end!
I feel very proud and privileged to be part of our Alton Handbell team and it is lovely to think of us making a difference to children’s lives by supporting our chosen charity each Christmas.”
Peter: “What a wonderful evening. Not only was the occasion a wonderful opportunity for dedicated performers to delight a very appreciative audience with two contrasting types of entertainment, but it was also extremely noticeable that the whole event was very much a social occasion, when friends old and new get together. A good time was had by all, with the added bonus of raising a lot of money for The Donna Louise Children's Hospice.”
Wendy: “Paul Denning, our compère, did a great job, guiding us, filling in and keeping us in order throughout the evening with humour, wit and pleasantries.”
Judith: “The audience made it all worthwhile; who would have thought that playing with a Swing Band would be such an amazing experience!”
Photo by Alan Walters