Report by Janine Pulford

Attended by Angus Campbell, the Lord-Lieutenant for Dorset and guest celebrity Michael Medwin OBE, a moving concert that combined traditional variety and remembrance took place at the Hub in Verwood on 2 November.

Variety Remembrance

Variety Remembrance led the audience on a journey through the last 100 years to commemorate those who gave their lives for our freedom. It was especially poignant because as well as saluting the centenary of World War 1, it also recognized the sacrifice of Malta, and marked the end of Britain’s 13-year war in Afghanistan.

Pam Reeks arrives

Pam Reeks arrives

The first half the concert opened with AK Dancers wearing eye-catching polka dot costumes. The youngsters performed a lively routine to the 1958 hit ‘Stupid Cupid.’

AK Dancers

AK Dancers

With brave repartee, the Master of Ceremonies Dave Fitzgerald introduced the rest of the acts beginning with Scarlet Swing whose harmonies set feet tapping to ‘Bugle Boy’ and ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’.

Scarlet Swing

Scarlet Swing

The MC’s talents were further showcased when he sang ‘That’s Life’ a tribute to Frank Sinatra, before introducing Catherine Gray who gave a strong performance of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Don’t Play That Song.’

MC Dave Fitzgerald

MC Dave Fitzgerald

Catherine Gray

Catherine Gray

A spellbinding routine by Yetminster Irish Dancers was applauded loudly before more tribute songs flowed to Dame Vera Lynn (Samantha Stevens), Whitney Houston (Catherine Gray), Judy Garland (Lydia Palmer) and Etta James (17-year-old Lauren Fitzgerald).

Yetminster Irish Dancers

Yetminster Irish Dancers

Samantha Stevens

Samantha Stevens

Lydia Palmer

Lydia Palmer

Lauren Fitzgerald

Lauren Fitzgerald

Comedy came with a hilarious performance of ‘If I Were Not Upon The Stage’ by Ferndown Phoenix Musical Society.

Ferndown Phoenix Musical Society

Ferndown Phoenix Musical Society

A mesmerizing dance routine followed by the Andrea Knowles Dance Academy’s Copa Girls swathed in blue and white feathers. The tempo changed with a stunning tribute to Pavarotti of ‘Nessun Dorma’ by Heidi Redsell.

Copa Girls

Copa Girls

Heidi Redsell

Heidi Redsell

After a curtain call, the entire cast sang ‘We’ll Meet Again’ led by Evelyn Walsh.

Evelyn Walsh'We’ll Meet Again'

Evelyn Walsh ‘We’ll Meet Again’

In the interval Leader of Dorset County Council, Cllr Spencer Flower said said that the organisers had done an absolutely fantastic job and added, “I congratulate everybody involved for making it such a lovely afternoon.”

Sylvia Evans from Verwood said, “The children were wonderful and the Irish dancers very good. I am a war baby born in 1939 and the show has been lovely.”

Mother and daughter Sonia Maylin and Kerry Stopa added, “We are enjoying the concert. It is a nice way to remember those who have died for their service to the country.”

Following the break, the Remembrance Concert began with the marching in of the Colour Guard. ‘Amazing Grace’ sung by Heidi Redsell allowed pupils from Emmanuel Middle School to showcase their singing skills.

Heidi Redsell

Heidi Redsell

Emmanuel Middle School

Emmanuel Middle School

Poetry, readings and songs were seamlessly sewn together by the presiding minister the Rev’d Adrian Thomas who led prayers and hymns.

The Rev’d Adrian Thomas

The Rev’d Adrian Thomas

Warren Brown performed his own song, ‘I Am Here With You’ which is available on CD.

Gurkha soldiers presented a sword in remembrance of the Unknown Warrior before the Exhortation by Sarah Byrne.

Gurkhas

Gurkhas

‘Bring Him Home’ sung by Heidi Redsell included a backdrop detailing a roll of honour of those in Verwood, Three Legged Cross and Woodlands who gave their lives during the First and Second World Wars whilst fighting for their country. For the more recent conflict in Afghanistan, the roll bore a single name, PJ Allen.

Bring Him Home

Bring Him Home

Bring Him Home

Bring Him Home

A poignant salute was given to Rifleman Phil Allen, killed in Afghanistan in 2009. In the audience were his mother Karen Charman-Allen, her partner Amin Woldeoktter, Natasha Charman (his sister) and Miss Katrina Pharaoh (his fiancée). Karen received a bouquet of flowers and an emotional hug from Cllr Toni Coombs.

Karen receives a bouquet from Cllr Toni Coombs

Karen receives a bouquet from Cllr Toni Coombs

The remembrance service also included a Salute to Malta by David Andrews of the George Cross Association who was accompanied on stage by a 94-year-old veteran Charles Grant who served on HMS Nelson during the Seige of Malta.

Charles Grant (left) and David Andrews

Charles Grant (left) and David Andrews

Churchill impersonator Derek Herbert gave his realistic Battle of Britain speech and this was followed with ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, ‘Rule Britannia’ and a lot of flag waving.

Derek Herbert

Derek Herbert

The Mayor of Verwood Cllr Mrs Pat Morrow thanked everyone involved in the concert on behalf of the people in Verwood and said the remembrance service was particularly poignant for her because she lived in Northern Ireland during the conflict there. “I would like to say a thank you to all the armed forces for what they did to protect me and my family.”

Variety Remembrance

The Mayor of Verwood

The Mayor of Verwood

Guest celebrity Michael Medwin OBE presented bouquets and the Lord-Lieutenant for Dorset, Angus Campbell was invited on stage by the Minister to light the flame of peace.

Lighting the flame of peace

Lighting the flame of peace

Parade Commander Ian Scraggs with actor and producer Michael Medwin OBE

Parade Commander Ian Scraggs with actor and producer Michael Medwin OBE

After the event Angus Campbell said: “It was a wonderful and very original memorial service and a tremendous success for community spirit in Verwood and of course in the wider Dorset.”

Lord-Lieutenant for Dorset Angus Campbell with his wife Carola

Lord-Lieutenant for Dorset Angus Campbell with his wife Carola

And Karen Charman-Allen added, “What a remembrance. A fantastic tribute. It was an honour to be here and to be part of it.”

L-R Cllr Toni Coombs, Armin, Karen Charman-Allen and Natasha

L-R Cllr Toni Coombs, Armin, Karen Charman-Allen and Natasha

Produced and directed by Warren Brown, Variety Remembrance included some of the best amateur and professional entertainers in the area as well as bringing together the various armed and other services for a truly memorable event. Even the sound glitches and a stubborn film screen paled into insignificance because the show was so professionally brought together.

Warren Brown on the red carpet

Warren Brown on the red carpet

Warren is looking for a larger theatre next year so that more of the Dorset community can take part.

Two raffle were held, one for cakes donated by Marie Turner from Ferndown Red Cross, pictured here (right) with Alison Davis (left).

Alison and Marie

Alison and Marie

One of the donated cakes

One of the donated cakes

Proceeds will be shared between Help4Heroes, The Jon Egging Trust and the Hub.

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