Group creates sounds of Africa

Rev Alan Saunders with the AYF Band from Uganda
Rev Alan Saunders with the AYF Band from Uganda

A music group will bring the sublime sounds of Africa to the borough and also spread the good news during an extended stay next month.

The Anglican Youth Fellowship (AYF) Choir and Band from Uganda are linking up with Christ Church Pennington for a 17-day trip to the UK in January.

I have organised numerous visits by the band to the UK and they have always brought tremendous pleasure and delight to audiences young and old alike.

The Reverend Alan Saunders

The group, which has been sharing its faith and music with audiences for more than 30 years, will play a spectacular concert in Leigh, attend community events and visit schools to run workshops with pupils.

The visit has been put together by Rev Alan Saunders at Christ Church Pennington, who has previously visited the group in southern Africa and also spent time with them while leading a church in Bolton.

Rev Saunders, who is himself a keen musician and plays the trumpet, said the group’s infectious rhythms and joyful harmonies had a major effect on his own life and his faith.

Rev Saunders said: “I became involved with the AYF Band of Uganda back in 1993 when they first toured the UK and it was through their impact at my local church that I decided to become a Christian.

“For me it’s been an exciting journey which led to ordination as a priest in the Church of England and has resulted in me now taking up the post as vicar of Christ Church Pennington. As I look back I think that making that commitment as a Christian was the best decision of my life.

“I’ve visited Uganda on two occasions since and joined with the AYF for their 30th anniversary celebrations in Kampala in 2014. Members of the team have become great friends.

“I have organised numerous visits by the band to the UK and they have always brought tremendous pleasure and delight to audiences young and old alike.

“It was wonderful to host them on Bolton last year and now to welcome them to Leigh is an incredible opportunity.

“I am thrilled to be welcoming them.

“They bring such energy and a sense of fun as well as incredible music, using many songs they have written themselves, and telling inspiring stories of what it means to be a Christian growing up in Uganda during the reign of Idi Amin.”

The band will be in Leigh between January 10 and 27 and the highlight promises to be a spectacular concert at Christ Church Pennington on January 21.

The team from Uganda will spend a week in Lowton CE High School working with staff and pupils at assemblies, lunchtime groups, school choir, practices and lessons in music, drama, RE, geography and cookery.

Headteacher Julian Pollard is also hoping to put on a concert for the end of the week at which Lowton CE High pupils will perform alongside the Ugandan singers and instrumentalists.

The band will also visit Christ Church Pennington CE Primary School for lessons and assemblies and take part in worship at Christ Church Pennington and the Sports Village Church.

Other plans in the pipeline include visits to community groups and a flash-mob to promote the trip.