MORE than 150 residents came together to enjoy a concert and embrace the community of Malmesbury Abbey several days after it was burgled.

A rare performance of poet Sir John Betjeman and Jim Parker’s 1974 cult classic Banana Blush took place inside Malmesbury Abbey on Saturday, November 18.

This was the first event to take place at the abbey since it reopened after the burglary on Wednesday night, November 15 where several items of significance, including silver used for communion, were stolen.

Classic FM presenter Zeb Soanes stepped into Betjeman’s shoes and performed a series of Betjeman’s poems to a new arrangement of Jim Parker’s music by multi-instrumentalist Chris Warner.

Chris Warner's band - which included Catriona Scott playing the clarinet, Ayse Osman on the double bass and Tim Farmer on the drums and percussion - performed alongside Soanes at the concert.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Classic FM presenter Zeb Soanes and Chris Warner's band performing inside Malmesbury AbbeyClassic FM presenter Zeb Soanes and Chris Warner's band performing inside Malmesbury Abbey (Image: Caerbladon)

This event was organised by David and Karen Drake, from Malmesbury’s art development organisation Caerbladon, who wanted to celebrate the poet's links with the town.

Betjeman was the first president of Malmesbury Civic Trust, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and the Drakes thought a concert honouring some of his most famous work would be a fitting celebration.

Guests enjoyed listening to the exuberant performance while sipping Banana Blush cocktails and donated £130 to the abbey's recovery fund after the concert.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Banana Blush cocktailsBanana Blush cocktails (Image: Caerbladon)

David and Karen Drake said: “The concert was a fabulous event which showed what a special venue the abbey is and what a creative town Malmesbury is.

"Thanks to all who attended, and also those who donated to the abbey after the theft last week. 

"The concert reminded us how much people care about our wonderful abbey, and what a great community we are."