Hedges, Sidney ('Sid') George

Sunday School leader and musician, born in Bicester, the son of a local shopkeeper, George W. Hedges. As a pacifist he enlisted in World War I in the Army Medical Corps and his service in Malta confirmed his Christian convictions. At the time of his father's death in 1936 he succeeded him as Superintendent of the Bicester Methodist Sunday School, serving until 1968. He introduced many musical developments, notably the 'Red Rhythmics Harmonica Band'. Although his 'Christian Youth Movement', instigated as an alternative to 'Hitler's Youth', never became nationwide as he had hoped, it was one of the tributaries of the post-war Methodist Association of Youth Clubs and in 1945 he was appointed as the first MAYC Vice President. He was closely involved with the National Sunday School Union and was a prolific author, including regular contributions to the Methodist Recorder.

The Red Rhythmics Harmonica Band, which flourished between 1936 and 1956, except for the war years, was the first all-harmonica band to broadcast on the radio (in 1937) and to play in the Royal Albert Hall; it also appeared on TV in 1954. It performed in many villages around Bicester and at the inauguration of the MAYC in 1945. Hedges was chairman of the National Harmonic League. He compiled the several collections of music for harmonica groups, as well as The Youth Sing Book (1953).

He died in Bicester on 18 July 1974.

  • Alun Howkins, 'Dare to be a Daniel', in R. Samuels (ed.), Patriotism :the making and unmaking of national identity (1989)
  • Gillian R. Warson, Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam: a musical history of the Anniversary Services at Bicester Methodist Church 1872-1968 (Bicester, 2002)
  • Gillian R. Warson, Behind the Remance: the story of the Red Rhythmics Harmonica Band (Bicester, 2002)