Salvation Army stalwart right on song with a gong

Neville McFarlane of Sleaford who been awarded an BEM.
Neville McFarlane of Sleaford who been awarded an BEM.

A retired head teacher has been awarded a New Year Honour for services to the Salvation Army and to the community in Sleaford.

Neville William McFarlane, of Ancaster Drive, has been a lifelong member of the Salvation Army and has given exemplary service for over 49 years.

Speaking on the news of being awarded the British Empire Medal, Mr McFarlane said: “It has been a considerable shock and a humbling experience.”

He was appointed as bandmaster on arrival at Sleaford in 1963. In his citation in the Queen’s New Year Honours List, it explains that the band at Sleaford is quite small in number. However, he continues to minister weekly at the Salvation Army and fulfil local commitments with enthusiasm.

As well as bandmaster he is the church pianist, a member of the Sleaford Choral Society for 28 years, both as a conductor and now a member of the male voice section.

He said: “I retired in 2001 then went back as a humble singer in the tenor section.”

He has supported the ongoing work of the Salvation Army not only in a leadership role but as a composer of music.

The 79-year-old is an accomplished musician, and his first contribution to their journals was published in 1955. He has since had over 20 published brass choral works dedicated to the Salvation Army.

As well as his contribution to the Salvation Army his citation describes how he has also given selfless dedication in his role as a teacher – he was deputy head teacher of Carre’s Grammar School for 16 years and then crossed to the other side of town to be head teacher of Kesteven and Sleaford High School for 17 years.

He is still involved with education as the 11+ co-ordinator for the Lincolnshire Consortium of Grammar Schools.

He said: “I enjoy working with people, so if I have something I can give, that is fine, but it is a community activity in a religious and secular sense.”

Mr McFarlane will receive his honour at a ceremony in London later in the year.