British Empire Medal presented in front of packed house

John Gibbons with Worthing mayor Hazel Thorpe, Lord Lieutenant Susan Pyper and Deputy Lieutenant Margaret Bamford
John Gibbons with Worthing mayor Hazel Thorpe, Lord Lieutenant Susan Pyper and Deputy Lieutenant Margaret Bamford

Worthing Symphony Orchestra’s musical director has been presented with the British Empire Medal at a packed Assembly Hall.

Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for West Sussex Mrs Susan Pyper presented Worthing Symphony Orchestra’s musical director John Gibbons with the British Empire Medal (BEM) before a full house at Worthing Assembly Hall on Sunday, October 20.

John, who was awarded the BEM for Services to Music in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, has been principal conductor with Worthing Symphony Orchestra (WSO) for more than 20 years.

John has built a worldwide reputation as a musician with a passion to share music with everyone ‘with an open ear’ and a versatile conductor equally at home on the concert platform, the opera pit or the cathedral steps.

He is described as a great believer in 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.

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.

The concert itself featured celebrated 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.