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A Look Back: The Spirit of England 2011

Welcome to the Stamford Branch of The Royal British Legion

We're taking a look back on one particular event that really stood out last year: The Spirit of England at Peterborough Cathedral in June 2011.

What an evening of beautiful music we enjoyed. Those of our Members prepared to try something different heard a superb recital by the Stamford Choral Society in Peterborough Cathedral on Saturday, 4 June. 2010/2011 was of course the Legion's 90th anniversary and, to mark the event, Stamford Choral Society invited Stamford Branch to join them in their concert, and to bring other local Branches and groups as well. 

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The programme began with Fauré's sublime Requiem, beautifully sung while Andrew Reid played the Cathedral organ, dancing through the Sanctus and growling and roaring through the Dies Irae. But the highlight for us was Elgar's Spirit of England, setting music to John Binyon's three poems, The Fourth of August, To Women, and For the Fallen, reflecting the changing moods to the conflict during WWI and all dedicated to the memory of the men of the Worcestershire Regiment. 

Just before the piece began, Frank Gartside and Martin Vines paraded our Union flag and Branch Standard, along the nave of the Cathedral towards the Choir. They were supported by the Legion Standards of Barnack, Peterborough, Peterborough WS, Yaxley, and Coningsby & Tattershall Branches and also those of RAFA Stamford, RAFA Oakham, and the Stamford CCF, ACF and ATC Cadets, all under the direction of our Parade Marshal, Keith Mellowes. The Choir began to sing and, when they came to the verse 'They shall grow not old …', the Standards all dipped in homage. The subdued, sombre lighting of the Cathedral only served to enhance the impact of this moving moment. 

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Jeremy Jepson, Director of Music Stamford Choral Society, afterwards sent this message to the members of the Royal British Legion, the RAFA and Cadet Units who took part:

"Please convey to the Parade Marshal and all the Standard Bearers at our concert last evening in Peterborough Cathedral my very grateful thanks for being with us and providing such a splendid contribution to the Choir's performance of Edward Elgar's significant 'Spirit of England'. It was a very special occasion and we very much welcomed the presence of the Standards. Thank you all very much." 

And Micky Venn, through whom we liaised with the Choir, has also said about our 'troops':

"As expected they all looked splendid and as many of my fellow choir members remarked, 'What a great contribution they all made to the evening'. Thank you very much. To paraphrase Shakespeare's famous Henry 5th speech before Agincourt, 'Those that failed to turn up don't know what they missed!'"

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We are grateful to Stamford Choral Society for allowing us to share and to contribute to an evening of beautiful music in a magnificent venue and rounded off appropriately with a lusty rendition of Jerusalem by all. And we thank also all those Branches who sent their Standards in support and, of course, all the Standard Bearers themselves. It is perhaps striking that many similar Legion Cathedral Concerts have had to be cancelled this year, including one last month in Peterborough Cathedral, but we and Stamford Choral Society had pretty much a full house.

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