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Much-loved musical director John Gibbons awarded the British Empire Medal

Released: Wednesday, 23 October 2019

The Mayor of Worthing, Cllr Hazel Thorpe, was among civic dignitaries and music lovers on hand to see much-loved musical director John Gibbons awarded his British Empire Medal (BEM).

John, principal conductor and musical director of Worthing Symphony Orchestra (WSO) for the last 21 years, was awarded the BEM in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to music.

He was presented with his medal by the Lord Lieutenant for West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper at a concert at a packed Assembly Hall which featured young cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who was the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2016 and also played at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in 2018.

At Sunday's concert Mrs Pyper took to the stage to present the medal, following a citation paying tribute to the conductor read by Deputy Lieutenant Mrs Margaret Bamford OBE.

John said:

“I was quite overwhelmed to receive the news of the award - not in my wildest imagination had I ever imagined that such an honour would be bestowed upon me, I have always taken my own path in the musical world and programmed music, often unfamiliar, that I passionately believe in.”

“I have been honoured to lead WSO for the last 21 years - a period of much evolution as we bring music to people of all ages in the West Sussex area.”

Cllr Thorpe said:

“I was delighted to be present when John was awarded his BEM. What a fantastic asset he and his orchestra have been to the borough of Worthing, giving pleasure and sometimes a first experience of classical music to thousands of residents both young and old alike.”

John is a big supporter of musical education and for the past three seasons WSO has put on a free daytime concert for local schoolchildren at the Assembly Hall, in association with West Sussex Music and with the generosity of private benefactors and local sponsors. More than 1,000 children have attended each of these events and are given a unique opportunity to engage with a fully professional orchestra, made up of some of the finest musicians in the country.

The BEM, formally known as the British Empire Medal for Meritorious Service, is awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown.

Photo: Hazel Thorpe (Mayor), John Gibbons, Mrs Susan Pyper (Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex) and Margaret Bamford (Deputy Lord Lieutenant)

PR19-152 - Hazel Thorpe (Mayor), John Gibbons, Mrs Susan Pyper (Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex) and Margaret Bamford


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