10/01/2016 Songs of Praise


10/01/2016

Sally Magnusson meets local hero George Parsonage, who has saved hundreds of people from the river Clyde. The Songs of Praise Gospel Choir competition is launched.


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Transcript


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'SALLY MAGNUSSON: I've come to the famous River Clyde in Scotland,

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'and, on a cold winter's day,

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'it's perhaps not the best time for a boat trip!'

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But I couldn't be in safer hands, because I've come to meet

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a true local hero, a man who's saved hundreds of people from these waters.

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Also in the programme, Claire's in Ballymena in Northern Ireland

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at a gym for the body and the soul.

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Through this gym, since we opened six years ago,

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there has been about 30 people have given their lives to Jesus

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just through the tool of fitness.

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# Everywhere I go... #

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And we'll be launching this year's

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Songs Of Praise Gospel Choir Of The Year competition.

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# ..I'm gonna hold my light up high! #

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GULLS CALL

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And we've got wonderful hymns and songs

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from across the UK, but we begin

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just along from here in Paisley, with a classic hymn of praise.

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APPLAUSE AND CHEERING

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Glasgow's changed a great deal

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since it was the shipbuilding capital of the British Empire.

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Many traditional industries have declined,

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but now, the old and the new sit side-by-side, with ships, whisky,

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even television programmes, being produced by the waterside.

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The Clyde remains one of Britain's busiest waterways

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and that, combined with the unpredictable weather,

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means it can be pretty treacherous.

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Each year, hundreds of people get into difficulty on the river

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and, for more than two centuries, the Glasgow Humane Society

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has done all it can to be there to rescue them.

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'George Parsonage succeeded his father

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'as Chief Officer of the Society.

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'I met him when the waters were calm.

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'But after a lifetime rowing this river,

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'George knows how quickly people can get into trouble.'

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I was not really expected to follow in my father's footsteps.

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But the day my father died, that afternoon,

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there was an accident down-river and CID phoned, people that

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hadn't known my father was dead,

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and told us of the incident and I just... You just went.

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That was it.

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What kind of situations do you get called to on the river?

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Well, you can get people trying to walk across a bridge,

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they think they're clever, usually with a bit of drink in them,

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and you can get a boating accident.

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Now, the boating accidents are never really any problem,

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but you never know when it could become a problem.

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And sometimes, sadly, it is people wanting to take their own lives?

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Er, I don't believe in the word "suicide"...at all.

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Usually find they are cries for help.

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Unfortunately, some of them, obviously, don't make it,

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but our proud boast is... My father's boast and now mine

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is that, er, we've never seen anybody drown in the river.

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If we see somebody... If somebody's alive when we're called out,

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we're always able to rescue them, you know?

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I also believe that there's somebody guiding us all the time,

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because, er, the number of very, very strange experiences I've had -

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being in the right place at the right time -

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there has to be a God, there has to be something up there.

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'One of the many George has rescued from the river is Gordon Simpson.'

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I was going out rowing one day

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in a sculling boat. Up the river I came

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and I got just under this bridge we're standing on now

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and I got to the other side of the bridge

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and my oar jumped out the gate.

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Now, when the oar jumps out of the gate in a sculling boat,

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you fall in, because you've no balance,

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and it was a very cold January day, with a howling westerly.

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Maybe I shouldn't have been out, but I was.

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So, I got in the water itself.

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Then I began to panic slightly, but I kept my cool.

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Fortunately, there was people crossing the bridge at the time.

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They ran up and got hold of George.

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George came down, got in his boat, came out, went alongside me,

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put his arms under my oxters here, and then,

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then he pushed me under, which gave me a bigger fright!

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But it was to get buoyancy and, when I pushed up,

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he pulled me right back up and pulled me into his boat,

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which I was glad to get into.

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I've heard it said that you've rescued 1,500 people or thereabouts.

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-Is that right?

-I certainly know my dad had rescued more than that.

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But, er... You don't go... You don't go counting.

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But you must have seen death, though, on the river?

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I've seen a lot, yeah.

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Whether it's a child or an older person,

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once you see a dead body, you don't want to see another one.

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Don't want to see another one! And that makes you

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really, really centric about the safety point and I'm very proud

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that we are concentrating on the safety bit just now.

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You've spent your life dealing with life-and-death situations.

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I wonder how that's forged your beliefs?

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Well, I was born and brought up in the Church of Scotland.

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The river is heaving.

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We can have 400 or 500 racing boats out on the river on a Sunday morning

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and, therefore, you've got to be here, just in case of accidents,

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so I don't go to church very often.

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-Are you ever picked up on that point?

-Yes!

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I went to a church a couple of years ago

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and the minister said, "I don't see you here very often."

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So, I just said to him,

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"Well, that, sir, is because I must be about my father's business."

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And he gave me a little wry look and he said,

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"What IS your father's business?" And I said,

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"I, sir, am a fisher of men."

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And there is a serious point, though, isn't there?

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Do you feel that you are doing your father's business out here?

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There's no doubt about it.

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It was after quite a number of years of racing about in the racing boats

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that I realised I hadn't just been given this ability of rowing

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to win races, but the best races were getting there in time

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to save somebody on the river.

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'Later, George reveals how his faith and the love of rowing combine

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'in his other passion - sculpture!

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'But first, let's enjoy one of his favourite hymns.'

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Today's the day we launch our search

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for the 2016 Songs Of Praise Gospel Choir Of The Year.

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It's more than just a competition. It's a festival!

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-# Oh, happy day!

-Oh, happy day! #

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And 2016 will be no exception. Once more, we're looking for choirs

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to take part in this showcase of talent.

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I think choirs should enter Gospel Choir Of The Year 2016

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because competitions give a choir

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an opportunity to really examine itself, to really work

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towards something and it is a great way to develop a choir.

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And also, you get to interact with other choirs

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and you can learn off them.

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Iron sharpens iron and choirs sharpen other choirs.

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# Your grace abounds in deepest waters

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# Your sovereign hand... #

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I am looking for a choir that delivers to

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the best of their ability, I am looking for a choir that reflects

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what is uniquely UK gospel,

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I'm looking for a choir that convinces me

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that what they are singing they believe.

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# And I will call upon your name... #

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A great gospel choir should have you on the edge of your seat,

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you should be feeling like, "I need to cry, I need to laugh."

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It should take you on the whole gamut of emotions.

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It should be technically strong but more than anything,

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it should move you.

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-# Now I know

-Now I know

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# There's no doubt in my mind

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# Jesus has answered... #

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The final competition performances may be high-pressure

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but the build-up to them is always great fun.

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From the minute we heard that we were finalists,

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there has been this growing excitement

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and then deciding what we were going to wear and all our accessories,

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it has really taken all of us to another level.

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# From every nation God knows each of us by name... #

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We're excited, there is a buzz with the choir,

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the prep talks have been fantastic.

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Coming on the coach, everybody is just grinning

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and bubbling and, "Oh, we're here!"

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So, it has been really good, I'm just crazy.

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# Laid down our lives

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# But we all shall live again on the other side... #

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It's gospel music, it is all about faith.

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It is not "secular" music, it is Gospel Choir Of The Year.

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And so, that faith has to come across, I have to believe

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that they mean every word that they say and they want that to reach me.

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# Oh, oh, oh Don't cry

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# Wipe your eyes... #

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I think it is a unique opportunity for UK gospel to showcase

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what's going on here.

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# Everywhere I go

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# Everywhere I've been

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# I'm going to hold my light up high

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# For the world to see... #

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So, if you'd like your choir to take part, don't delay,

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go straight to the Songs Of Praise website,

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where you will find all the details

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and terms and conditions you need to enter.

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You have got until Friday 1st April to get your entry in.

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Now, let's remind ourselves of the amazing winners'

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performance from last year's competition.

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# We are going to see the King

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# Going

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# Going to see the King

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-# Soon and very soon

-Soon and very soon

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-# We are going to see the King

-We are going to see

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# Soon and very soon

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# We are going to see the King

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-# We're going, we're going to see

-Soon and very soon

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# We are going to see the King

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-# Hallelujah

-Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah We are going to see the King

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-# No more crying there

-No more crying there

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-# We are going to see the King

-We're going to see the King

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# No more crying there We are going to see the King

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# We're going, we're going

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# No more crying there We are going to see the King

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# Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah, hallelujah

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# We are going to see the King

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# Hallelujah

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# Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ah

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# Should there be

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# Should there be any rivers we must cross

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# Should there be any mountains we must climb

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# God will supply all the strength that we need

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# Give us grace till we reach the other side

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# We have come from every nation

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# God knows each of us by name

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# Jesus shed His precious blood

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# And He washed our sins away

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# Yes, there are some of us who have laid down our lives

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# But we all shall live again on the other side

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# No more dying there

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# We are going to see the King

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-# We're going, we're going to see

-No more dying there

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# We are going to see the King

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-# We're going to see the King

-No more dying there

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# We are going to see the King

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-# Hallelujah

-Hallelujah

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# Hallelujah We are going to see the King

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# Hallelujah

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# Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ah

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# Hallelujah

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# Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ah. #

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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Glasgow has a rich heritage of art and music.

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It was named European City Of Culture back in 1990,

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just after our next guest had her first big hit.

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Singer-songwriter Eddi Reader is Glasgow born and bred.

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Here she is now with her take on a classic hymn.

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# Soul of my saviour

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# Sanctify my breast

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# Body of Christ

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# Be thou my saving guest

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# Blood of my saviour

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# Bathe me in thy tide

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# Wash me with water

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# Gushing from thy side

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# Strength and protection

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# May thy passion be

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# O blessed Jesus

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# Hear and answer me

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# Deep in thy wounds, Lord

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# Hide and shelter me

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# So shall I never

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# Never part from thee

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# Guard and defend me

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# From the foe malign

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# In death's dread moments

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# Make me only thine

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# Call me and bid me

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# Come to thee on high

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# Where I may praise thee

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# With thy saints for aye. #

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I don't suppose you'll be surprised to hear that gym membership

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rises rapidly in January, as many of us

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resolve to work off those Christmas indulgences.

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Well, Claire McCollum has been to a gym in Ballymena

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in Northern Ireland, to find out how fitness can help body and soul.

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I wonder how many of you, like me, have made New Year's resolutions.

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Getting fit and changing to a healthier diet tops the list

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every January.

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And at Green Pastures Church in Ballymena, you can

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do just that and hear God's word.

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All under one roof.

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OK, Linda, let's get ready to work up those shoulders.

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Pick up your 5kg.

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Place them on your shoulders and lift up, breathe out.

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Estelle Wallace is a personal trainer

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and the manager at the church's own Pure Wellness gym.

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It looks to me like many, many gyms up and down the country

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but it is different. Why is it so different?

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I think the main thing would be

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because we are under the church roof here at Green Pastures.

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We wanted to cater for something that brings in the local community.

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We accept everybody as they are and our aim is to make people

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believe in themselves and actually act out what they believe

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they can be.

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We get every walk of life and through this gym

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since we opened six years ago, there has been about 30 people have

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given their lives to Jesus just through the tool of fitness.

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The Lord says to use whatever is in your hand and in our hands

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in here is fitness.

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So, we get a chance to actually witness to people without

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ever preaching a word.

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The idea and vision for the gym came from Pastor Jeff Wright.

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The gym really is a brilliant thing for engaging with people that

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don't normally come to church.

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The proceeds and the profits of the gym go to help people

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out in the community.

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We can feed people with that, we can do community clean-ups.

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There are a lot of hurting people out there, lost in this world

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and we really want to invite them to come

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in and have an encounter with Jesus and his cross.

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One of those whose life has been touched by the gym

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is Alison Kernohan.

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15 years ago, she was struggling with a heroin addiction.

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Things had got really bad.

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I'd been a heroin addict for a few years.

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Me and my partner, we had moved to a small village, very close to here.

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The people hated us. I had people spit at my feet.

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We had our windows all put in one night.

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I remember on one occasion, I actually got down on my hands

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and knees on my living room floor and I cried out to God.

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Erm...

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I just... I just wanted to die.

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I wanted him to give me the courage to end my life.

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Or somehow to get me out of it.

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Alison received professional help and managed to come off heroin.

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As part of her rehabilitation, she signed up to a healthy eating

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programme and started coming to the gym at Green Pastures Church.

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I was a non-Christian then and straightaway,

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it was like an instant feeling of this...

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It just became my home from home.

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There was a joy about the place and I remember saying to the

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manager, Estelle, "What is it about this place?"

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And she nailed it on the head. She just said, "God lives here."

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As we move into the New Year, we are going...

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Today, Alison's life revolves around the church

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and she works as a personal trainer, helping and encouraging others.

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I am so thankful to God because it is all through him

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and it just shows that he has been there

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all along, through the struggles, he has seen the bigger picture.

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Is this God's gym?

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Absolutely. It is not my gym,

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it is not the team's gym,

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it belongs to God and He does all the miracles in here.

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Earlier, I met George Parsonage,

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who has dedicated his life to saving lives on the River Clyde.

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But even heroes need hobbies and for George, it's art.

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Wow, George!

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-This is all your stuff?

-Yep.

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I went to art school and after the two-year general,

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-decided to do sculpture.

-And where do you get all the material?

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Most of the material comes out the river, or out the scrapyard.

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-But the river bank gives me a lot of it.

-And, George, what's this?

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Is this a crucifix?

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It came quite simply from somebody taking a photograph,

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looking right down on me as I passed under a bridge.

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And I realised that the boat was the crucifix.

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People had said, especially when the rowing started on a Sunday,

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that rowing had become my religion.

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So, my answer to that was, yeah, because you never actually feel

0:29:030:29:06

nearer to God than when you're out in the middle of a river or loch.

0:29:060:29:11

When you are rowing in an international race

0:29:110:29:13

and you get about 1,800 metres of a 2,000-metre race

0:29:130:29:17

and you feel as though your sweatband

0:29:170:29:19

is your crown of thorns and your oars are nailed to the water.

0:29:190:29:24

And it's a lovely idea of this, you know, and you come THROUGH that.

0:29:240:29:30

If you are lucky, you win.

0:29:300:29:33

You succeed, and that is what a lot of folk would say Jesus did.

0:29:330:29:37

He came through the Crucifixion and succeeded.

0:29:370:29:41

-This is the house, George, it belongs to the society.

-It does, yes.

0:29:440:29:48

How long have you been here?

0:29:480:29:50

-I was born here, I was born in the room upstairs.

-Were you?

-Yes.

0:29:500:29:54

-Goodness. So, that's a long time.

-Aye, a long time.

0:29:540:29:59

-So, you really have lived with this job, in every way.

-Oh, yes.

0:29:590:30:05

And it is surrounded here by these wonderful accolades to the

0:30:050:30:10

-work that you and your father have done.

-It is nice, yes.

0:30:100:30:15

What are the things that have mattered most to you,

0:30:150:30:19

the sort of recognition that has meant most to you personally?

0:30:190:30:23

The best recognition you can get is your own satisfaction,

0:30:230:30:29

that you have saved a life.

0:30:290:30:32

So, as you look back on your life, George,

0:30:320:30:36

-it has been a satisfying life, has it?

-Yes, very satisfying.

0:30:360:30:42

As I say, we all make our mistakes, we do things we shouldn't have done.

0:30:420:30:46

We try to make up for it by doing all the good we can

0:30:460:30:49

and I have tried to do a lot of good in this world.

0:30:490:30:53

I will continue to try to do it if I can.

0:30:530:30:56

Next week, John Craven is in Cumbria to visit communities

0:33:160:33:20

rebuilding lives and livelihoods after the flooding of recent weeks.

0:33:200:33:24

And do you know a family who have opened their home to refugees

0:33:240:33:27

from war-torn countries like Iraq and Syria?

0:33:270:33:31

If so, we would love to hear from you for a special programme.

0:33:310:33:34

Please contact us by e-mailing...

0:33:340:33:37

Sally Magnusson meets local hero George Parsonage, who has saved hundreds of people from the river Clyde. Claire McCollum visits a church in Northern Ireland with its own state of the art gym and the Songs of Praise Gospel Choir competition is launched.


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