Hamilton church seeking choir members for Big Band fun

An open invitation is being extended to the people of Hamilton to join an energetic "Big Band" community choir.

St John's Parish Church hopes to become a regional hub for Heart & Soul Swing Band concerts and is appealing to men and women, boys and girls to join in on the fun.

Minister, Rev Joanne Hood, is a singer with the 20-piece band, which performs a mixture of jazz, swing, gospel music, traditional hymns with a contemporary twist and original songs.

Rev Joanna Hood
Singer Rev Joanne Hood said being part of the Heart & Soul Band is "tremendous fun".

She said the town centre church is hosting a Sing with the Swing Band Day on March 16 and there are 40 spaces available for people who will taught how to sing gospel songs and some "really great swing numbers".

Ms Hood said: "Performing with the Heart & Soul Swing Band is such great fun.

"The music is energetic and inspiring and after every concert people in the audience always remark that we look like we are having such a great time.

"We are and that is why we want to invite people to join us and share in the fantastic experience that we have."

The band members are Church of Scotland ministers, elders and others involved in the life of the church from across central Scotland.

They play trumpet, trombone, saxes, flute, keyboards, guitar, bass and percussion.

Ms Hood said: "Nearly 130 people have signed up for the free event, which is being held from 11am-4pm with registration at 10.15am when refreshments will be available.

"It promises to be a day of discovery and musical enjoyment that must not be missed.

"The long term hope is to use the event to inspire people to be part of a community choir that would be able to sing with the swing band at any local concerts in the future."

Souper Sunday

Tickets to Heart & Soul Swing Band concerts are free but donations are collected in aid of the Church of Scotland's HIV Programme, which currently supports 17 projects in 13 different countries including Scotland.

The Church of Scotland has raised more than £500,000 to tackle HIV and AIDS by serving hundreds of thousands of bowls of soup.

Souper Sunday, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month, is a special act of worship led by church elders to raise awareness of the many issues around HIV followed by a simple lunch of delicious hot soup and bread.

Diners donate what they can.

Rev Dr Robin Hill
Stirring the pot - Rev Dr Robin Hill

The project was started by members of Gladsmuir linked with Longniddry Church in East Lothian, which has raised approximately £4,362.00 since 2010

Minister, Rev Robin Hill, a founding member of the Heart & Soul Swing Band, said: "When the Presbytery of Lothian launched Souper Sunday in January 2009, we reckoned it was nothing more than a local initiative.

"Quickly it proved to be a winner that could be rolled out across the whole country and beyond.

"As convener of the Church of Scotland HIV Programme, I was delighted to see the uptake of the event in its early days, with not only funds but also awareness being raised.

"How appropriate it is that the £500,000 mark should have been reached in the very month of Souper Sunday's tenth anniversary?

"It's a real cause for celebration."