I am Joe Simpson, the oldest member of the Sailors Chapel Band, born on the 5th of February 1927. I grew up in the Dingle along with other boys, getting into all sorts of mischief. When the war broke out I was 12 years old. I never liked school and took every opportunity to say goodbye to my school days and I found a job (in those days no one knew if you had been killed in an air raid so you were never missed).
My association with the Sailors Chapel was when a man named Mr Frankel down in the basement of Wellington Road School, which was used as an air raid shelter, asked me if I wanted to join a band. I thought I would have a go. I entered the Sailors Chapel to find the band consisted of one, he was Bob Dean Jr. He was about 11 years old and I was 16. I was given a cornet to practice on and eventually played a duet with Bob while his dad played the organ. ‘The Day Thou Gavest Lord Is Ended’
Those days for me were just the beginning; I attended the chapel until 5th February 1945 when I had to go into the army. After three and a half years, I came home and found that Mr Dean Sr. had formed a small band of local boys all playing instruments. I never became a great musician, but took a great interest in the work at the chapel and eventually gave my life to the Lord ‘I asked him to be my Saviour’. Prayer has played a big part in my life I believe it was the prayers of the people of the chapel that brought me back from the army after many close encounters. I wanted to be part of that prayer life.
Over the past 70 years I have seen many boys and girls come through the band and I praise God for the opportunity to bring them under the sound of the Gospel for this was the reason the band was formed, praising God for those who have given their lives to Him and continue to serve Him. I believe the Lord called me to do a job in the chapel, and with His help I have tried to do it to the best of my ability.
I was a boy who came from nothing who gave himself to the Lord to be used in his service. If I have made any difference to the band over the past 70 years, all the praise must go to the Lord.