Salvation Army stalwart to stop playing after 73 years of 'soul-saving music'

Trevor Middleton, 85, who is stopping playing as part of the Mile Cross Salvation Army band in Norwich

Trevor Middleton, 85, who is stopping playing as part of the Mile Cross Salvation Army band in Norwich - Credit: Sophie Wyllie

He has played songs for the Salvation Army for the past 73 years after first picking up a cornet when he was just eight years old.

But tenor horn musician Trevor Middleton, 85, from Heath Close in Hellesdon, will be hanging up the sheet music after his final performance on Sunday for the Norwich Mile Cross Salvation Army band.

The recital will be in the 85-year-old church headquarters in Boundary Road.

He has been a dedicated attendee of the church since he started at its Sunday School in Mile Cross Hall aged six but his musical involvement might not have happened.

Trevor Middleton's band member commission. Photo: Trevor Middleton

Trevor Middleton's band member commission - Credit: Trevor Middleton

Mr Middleton, who grew up in Marshall Road on the Mile Cross estate, said: "We were living with family friends in Bolingbroke Road at the time and I locked myself in the bathroom."

Thankfully he was persuaded and when he was eight a band of 10 boys was formed in 1945.

He said: "I think I'm the last one left playing. I'm finishing now because I didn't want to get to the stage where I'm struggling. I do feel sad.

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"When you are young your mind doesn't look that far ahead. I never thought I'd still be playing."

Mile Cross Salvation Army tenor horn player, Trevor Middleton. Pictured in The Norman School band in

Mile Cross Salvation Army tenor horn player, Trevor Middleton, pictured in The Norman School band in 1948 - Credit: Supplied

Despite not having lessons he progressed from the cornet to the tenor horn when he was 17.

The junior band practised weekly and played three open air concerts around the Mile Cross estate every Sunday as well as playing for three meetings every Sunday at the Boundary Road headquarters.

All 10 teenagers progressed together to the adult band which had 28 members in its heyday. It now has 12.

Mile Cross Salvation Army tenor horn player, Trevor Middleton. Pictured, 4th from left, in The Norma

Mile Cross Salvation Army tenor horn player, Trevor Middleton, pictured fourth from left, in The Norman School band in 1948 - Credit: Supplied

Mr Middleton, who has lived in Heath Close for 60 years with his wife Daphne, continued: "In the 1940s and 1950s we used to play Christmas carols from lamppost to lamppost. It was so cold, by the time we got to a new post the valves in our instruments had frozen.

"Whenever we play carols at supermarkets now people say they know it's Christmas. I've played some wonderful soul-saving music."

Trevor Middleton, 85, who is stopping playing as part of the Mile Cross Salvation Army band in Norwich

Trevor Middleton, 85, who is stopping playing as part of the Mile Cross Salvation Army band in Norwich - Credit: Sophie Wyllie

The retiring deputy bandmaster, who has two sons, four grandchildren and four step-grandchildren, one great-grandson and one step-great-grandson, will continue attending the church.

History of the Salvation Army

MILE CROSS SALVATION ARMY HALL

The Mile Cross Salavation Army hall - Credit: Steve Adams

The Salvation Army began in East London in 1865 when Methodists, William and Catherine Booth, abandoned the traditional concept of a church pulpit to take God’s word directly to the people.

The Booths preached and lived out a doctrine of practical Christianity - soup, soap and salvation - to encourage social and spiritual transformation among society’s most vulnerable people.

Salvation Army work included setting up shelters for people who were homeless, a family tracing service, running soup kitchens, helping people living in the slums and setting up rescue homes for women fleeing domestic abuse and prostitution.

The Booth's also oversaw the world’s first free labour exchange and campaigned to improve working conditions.

It grew quickly outside of London and became known as the Christian Mission and In 1878 the name was changed to The Salvation Army.