Salvation Army band ‘out in cold’

Rushmere Shopping Centre. INLM45-112gc
Rushmere Shopping Centre. INLM45-112gc

Lurgan’s Salvation Army Band will be out in the cold at Rushmere Shopping Centre this Christmas.

Lurgan’s Salvation Army Band will be out in the cold at Rushmere Shopping Centre this Christmas.

A popular festive feature, the Salvation Army and St Mark’s Silver Band from Portadown were told by email they were no longer permitted to play inside the venue during the Christmas season.

Instead both bands have been banished outside to a side entrance.

A source close to one of the bands said they were ‘shocked, hurt and aggrieved’.

He told the Mail: “We have been playing at Rushmere for more than 15 years.”

He said he was shocked when he received the email explaining that the band would be unable to perform inside Rushmere on the two evenings requested.

Instead they would have to play the two and a half hour set at the side entrance close to O’Brien’s cafe.

The band source said the reason given was that the Mall was going to be filled with new furniture and a Christmas display so there would be no room.

Plus, it was claimed, some traders had complained about the noise.

However the band source said: “We have never had any complaints, only requests for songs.”

“They said they would provide chairs outside the side entrance,” said the source, who added that he felt their collections could be affected.

“I felt a bit aggrieved. We have been playing there a long time. It has become a tradition,” he said.

Captain David Williamson of the Salvation Army said, “While we are disappointed to be outside the centre, we understand the policy decision. In order to maintain a good working relationship we have agreed to work within the arrangements agreed with Rushmere.”

A spokesperson for St Mark’s said, “We are disappointed but it is Rushmere’s decision.”

A spokesman for Rushmere Shopping Centre said: “We are deeply disappointed by the tone of this newspaper article and by some of the comments made which go some way to present us in an uncaring and dismissive light.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. Rushmere Shopping Centre has a long, established and proud history for supporting many charities, including the Salvation Army and St. Mark’s Silver Band, and for assisting in raising thousands of pounds in the process.

“We have immediately sought to make contact with official representatives from both St Mark’s Silver Band and the Salvation Army to seek clarity over the issues which we were told would be raised in this piece, and, if there are any issues, we will make sure that they are successfully resolved for everyone concerned.

“Rushmere Shopping Centre has supported the Salvation Army for 20 years and St Mark’s Silver Band for more than 15 years and we will always continue to do so.”