Amateur SATB choir based in Fleet, Hampshire
Following the devastating fire on 22 June 2015, which ravaged our beloved Concert Venue and choral “home”, our Chair Mike Huddie pays tribute to All Saints Church.
Whilst eating our evening meal on that Monday we received a text message saying that All Saints Church was on fire.
At first we thought that this might be recycled news of the previous week’s attempted arson but a quick check of the internet confirmed that All Saints was indeed on fire. Sue & I finished our meal, drove into Fleet and, from a taped-off area in the car park opposite, we watched in shock as fire tore through the roof of the church. It was immediately obvious that very little would survive inside the building.
We have been worshipping in the Parish of Fleet at St Philip and St James (P&J) Church for some twenty years and whilst we were not at All Saints every week, we would often go to All Saints for services, so it was for us a familiar place with a very warm and welcoming congregation. Whenever we could, we would also sing at the monthly Choral Evensong in All Saints: the wonderful music, the beautiful brickwork and dramatic lighting gave a strong sense of timeless continuity of successive generations who had worshipped in the same way. It is quite difficult to fully understand that the physical context for all that has now gone for ever. I am extremely grateful that we were part of an inspiring, unaccompanied Evensong in All Saints just a week before the fire struck.
Hart Voices has had a long association with All Saints Church and after the fire we are continuing to rehearse each week in the Parish Community Centre. We have held many memorable concerts in All Saints, including most recently, Stainer’s The Crucifixion, a work that completely resonated with the church. In 2013, Hart Voices also performed a stunning Mozart’s Requiem in the Church and we are eternally grateful to have recorded some stunning photos, taken by Sean Haffey, of the choir in that wonderful building (you can find these all at www.hartvoices.org.uk - they are well worth a look).
Hart Voices also spent much of one year rehearsing in the Church itself whilst the new Parish Community Centre was being rebuilt. During this time, the Church lighting was also being replaced and so each week our members were to be found clambering around something of a building site to find somewhere to rehearse! As its choral home, Hart Voices has been a firm part of the All Saints community for some 40 years.
The week that followed the dramatic event of the fire was equally dramatic for the Parish.
For many in the congregation, clearly grieving for the loss of a much loved Church, All Saints represented the precious memories of christenings, weddings and funerals of generations of their families. Through the week following the fire there were many gatherings where all shared their feelings, tears and hopes.
Two things became clear as the week progressed. Firstly, there was a groundswell of support from the community of Fleet, often from people who had no obvious connection with All Saints. A strong wish has been repeatedly expressed that the Church be rebuilt including some spontaneous donations. Secondly, the congregations of the two churches of All Saints and St Philip & St James were united as never before and showed a determination that the whole parish would grow through the experience.
This was given expression at the end of that eventful week with both congregations packed into P&J for a wonderful combined service that made clear that, whilst we had suffered a terrible loss in the bricks & mortar that housed All Saints Parish, the Church in the end is about its people and local community, and that out of this would come new life.
Mike Huddie, Hart Voices Chair
"When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up."
REMEMBERING ALL SAINTS CHURCH
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE RESTORATION OF ALL SAINTS HERE: http://ariseallsaints.uk/