Salvationists attend royal garden party in recognition of their services

published on 21 May 2015

Bandsman Keith Watts with his wife Glenis

Six Salvationists have attended the prestigious garden parties at Buckingham Palace in recognition of their service to the local community.

Within the past month Captains Karl and Ruth Gray, leaders of The Salvation Army in Clapton and Stoke Newington, and Bandsman Keith Watts with wife Glenis and retired Majors Vic and Miriam Kennedy from Birmingham Citadel Salvation Army have enjoyed the splendour of the Queen’s back garden.

Keith and the Kennedys were nominated by the Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands Mr Paul Chandrasekharan Sabapathy CBE.

Keith was nominated for his services to music education and attended the palace accompanied by his wife Glenis.

Keith worked as music teacher for 35 years before retiring as Head of Sandwell Music Service in 2005. He currently leads a team of volunteers teaching young people brass instruments at Birmingham Citadel Salvation Army. Keith has also written a beginners music course which The Salvation Army uses across the country.

Sarah Beattie, aged 13, is one young person who has learned to play the cornet at The Salvation Army thanks to Keith. She said: “Keith has really helped me get better with my playing. He is a really great teacher! He's very patient, very encouraging and doesn't let us give up easily.”

Majors Vic and Miriam Kennedy

The Kennedys were nominated for their work as Salvation Army officers.

Together they were church leaders at Birmingham Citadel for 7 years and then Divisional Leaders of The Salvation Army in West Scotland before returning to Birmingham. In his retirement Vic is currently a voluntary chaplain for the West Midlands Police, providing pastoral support to officers and staff.

Major James Williams, who supports retired Salvation Army officers from the church's national headquarters, said: “Retired officers like Majors Vic and Miriam are the backbone of The Salvation Army. They bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to our present day ministry. Even in their retirement they continue to be active members of our church and serve their local community - we thank God for them.”

Captain Karl Gray

Captains Karl and Ruth Gray lead both Clapton and Stoke Newington Salvation Army churches in London in addition to helping co-ordinate The Salvation Army’s Pan-London support of the emergency services.

This work includes providing on-site refreshments and emotional support to responders at incident sites. Karl and Ruth recently attended the Kingsway fires in Holborn, Central London, which caused major disruption to the surrounding area for several days in April as the emergency services fought the blaze.

Under Karl and Ruth’s leadership Clapton and Stoke Newington Salvation Army churches continue to go from strength to strength as they serve and minister to the local community. Stoke Newington Salvation Army re-opened last year as a café church, providing a fresh expression of The Salvation Army alongside quality coffee, food and hospitality.