The Bristol Easton Salvation Army Band will celebrate its centenary year of playing live at Southmead Hospital.

The band will be playing as part of Southmead Hospital Charity’s Great Bristol Buskathon event from 9.30am on Christmas Day.

The Buskathon event has seen more than 100 performers, choirs, bands and musicians playing live in the hospital throughout December to support Southmead Hospital Charity.

Each year the charity’s twice annual Buskathon events raise more than £30,000 for projects including new medical research, funding new equipment and supporting patients.

The Salvation Army band will be the culmination of the month-long Buskathon and marks their 100th visit to Southmead Hospital.

The first Christmas Day performance by the Salvation Army Band began in 1920 and each year the band of volunteer musicians and their supporters have visited the hospital to play carols for patients, visitors and staff.

The tradition began shortly after Southmead Hospital became a public hospital following its years as a military hospital during the First World War.
It was first organised by a member of the Salvation Army called Violet Brown who also worked at Southmead.

Band member Michael Greenwood said: “Our principal cornet player Martyn Bryant, who is also a member of the Salvation Army’s International Staff Band, first played at Southmead Hospital when he was just fourteen years old and has not missed a Christmas Day since.

“But he still has a little way to go to match the record of former band member Stan Urch, who joined the band in 1909 and was present in 1920 and for the next sixty or so years.

“And band member Rob Dalton has a special reason to celebrate Christmas Day this year. Forty years ago he was on duty with the band at Southmead along with his heavily pregnant wife Ruth. By tradition, the band always finishes on the maternity wards but on this occasion Ruth had to change out of her Salvation Army uniform as she went into labour.

“A few hours later, Ruth and Rob were celebrating the birth of their daughter Kate.

“Then on Christmas Day 2015, Bristol Easton Bandmaster and renowned euphonium soloist Anthony R Smith was able to play to his own wife and newborn son before taking them home for Christmas.”

The band will visit areas around the hospital from 9.30am, finishing in maternity at 12.30pm.

Mr Greenwood said: “The opening of Southmead Hospital’s Brunel Building in 2014 presented a new challenge for the Band, with many more wards and patients to visit. But by splitting into small groups the Band has met this challenge and hopes to do so for many more years to come, not only to bring Christmas cheer to patients but also to say thank you to the marvellous members of staff at Southmead Hospital.”

Adrian Brown, corporate and community manager at Southmead Hospital Charity, said: “We are delighted to keep welcoming back the Bristol Easton Salvation Army Band year after year.

“The wonderful music they play brings a real festive atmosphere to the hospital, brightening the day for staff, patients and visitors who love to see them.

“The band’s performance will mark the end of our Christmas Great Bristol Buskathon which has been a fantastic fundraiser for the hospital.”