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Barry Hall - Organist at St. James

My Father started to teach me how to play a harmonium at Badshot Lea village, near Farnham, where I was born. I joined the choir when I was 7, just as he did many years previously. Much later, my job in the Met. Office required close liaison with the RAF – often working abroad – and I nearly always ended up playing at the various chapels, churches or even a cathedral at Port Stanley in the Falklands! Other stations were RAF Gan (Maldives), Ascension Island, the RAF Staff College at Bracknell and RAF Chivenor (search & rescue, N Devon).

I played at Holy Trinity and St Andrew’s churches at Bracknell, later our village at Ashford near Chivenor, back at St George’s Badshot Lea with a ‘proper’ organ by 2006. Then Sandra & I moved to Southbourne for family reasons in 2015 and we quickly became fond of St James’s because of the vibrant and varied church family and friendliness of the congregation. Sandra soon became churchwarden until her untimely death in December 2020.

I play for most 10am Sunday services and a few 3pm Eucharists. Theoretically I have the first Sunday in the month off (Family Service) but often play the tenor recorder in our excellent band. I am often asked to fill in elsewhere, including back at Badshot Lea (65 miles!) as the organist who took over from me has been seriously ill but fortunately is recovering well.

We have close connections with St James’ School next to us and before Covid I sometimes played for school services held in our church – they hope to return soon. Several of our congregation have volunteered helping at the school with reading; with my background I was asked if I would help with teaching maths which I do every Wednesday afternoon. If I have any spare time I help with any ongoing work at church such as tidying/gardening. Outside that I either sing bass or accompany the Wessex Choir, recently of fame appearing on ‘South Today’! I cycle, swim, go to the gym and walk a lot; I also help raise money for Macmillan Nurses at Christchurch and for Christian Aid. I am supported by my Daughter Fiona and Family who fortunately live just down the road from me in Grand Avenue and have made many lovely friends connected with the church and Wessex Choir.

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