Festive big band concert raises £1,500 to tackle HIV and AIDS

Revellers in Hamilton blew away the winter chill at a unique concert and raised more than £1,500 to help people living with HIV and AIDS.

The Heart and Soul Swing Band held its first ever “Christmas Swing-Along” at St John’s Parish Church on Sunday 17 December.

Heart and Soul Swing Band
The Heart and Soul Swing Band has helped the Kirk raise £1.5 million to help tackle HIV and AIDS. Bill Wishart.

Local minister, Rev Joanne Hood, is the lead vocalist of the 20-piece band which entertained people with festive swing numbers and popular Christmas carols for everyone to sing.

The Kirk’s very own “Minister of Magic”, Rev Bill Wishart of St Martin’s Parish Church in Edinburgh, a former Presbytery of Hamilton deacon, performed a range of tricks to the delight of the audience.

The generosity of concert goers means the Heart and Soul Swing Band has raised a total of nearly £21,000 for the Church of Scotland’s HIV Programme, which supports more than 20 projects in 16 countries around the world, including Scotland.

Laughter and joy

Supporting the combat of HIV and AIDS and tackling stigma and discrimination is a priority for the Kirk and congregation members across Scotland and further afield have raised nearly £1.5 million to date.

Rev Dr Robin Hill, leader of the Heart and Soul Swing Band, said he was thrilled by the response of the St John's audience.

“Performing in Hamilton has always been great for us,” he added.

“Our Christmas show was a pleasure to be part of, with so much joy and laughter shared between performers and our wonderful audience.

“We are delighted that the £20,000 mark was passed at St John's, a congregation that has a real passion for the Church of Scotland HIV Programme and its life-changing work."

St Johns Parish Church, Hamilton
The Heart and Soul Swing Band held its first ever “Christmas Swing-Along” at St John’s Parish Church on Sunday. Bill Wishart.

Marjorie Clark, who led on the HIV Programme in the Kirk offices, in Edinburgh, said it was a “great evening with wonderful music, lots of fun”.

“This was despite poor Jo, their minister and band singer, having a sore throat but she sang her heart out and showed just what a trooper she is," she added.

The World Mission Council's HIV Programme backs projects by helping to provide nutritional support, home-based care, palliative care, community-based orphan care, awareness raising, education programmes, support of those infected and affected by HIV.

It supports aspects of the work of Edinburgh-based Positive Help and Waverley Care, which raises awareness of HIV and AIDS issues in an informal, creative and interactive manner.

Swing Band
The Heart and Soul Swing Band. Photograph courtesy of Willie Ewan.