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Henry Miles

Second Bass Henry Miles is shown below with his wife Yvonne.

Married to Yvonne, with grown-up son and daughter and two smashing young adoptive grandchildren.

Ex-patriot Northerner (born and bred in Manchester), a lawyer by training, I arrived in Wiltshire to work with Swindon Borough Council in the mid sixties, and stayed in local government around the County (more or less) ever since. My Manchester accent still re-appears after a drink or two.

Introduced to music through an inspirational teacher at 'music appreciation' classes at my grammar school, who took us every fortnight to what were called 'industrial concerts' by the Halle Orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli at the Free Trade Hall, I still managed to avoid learning to play any instrument, though I’m a dab hand at whistling Beethoven’s fifth.

I was bought a keyboard and a dozen lessons by my wife as a retirement present, but somehow never got past the first two lines of 'Ode to Joy'.

As the family view was that even singing was probably a better alternative to my constant whistling, and terrible keyboard practicing, I was, on my (first) retirement, persuaded to join the Choir by Ron Dolman - one of the long-standing members - on the basis that I might enjoy it. That proved to be a bit of an understatement.

I have to say that CMVC is my kind of choir – you don’t have to audition to get in, you don’t have to be too proficient in reading music, the pieces we sing are not too serious or heavy and (sotto voce) you don’t need to have a great singing voice – but you do have to have the capacity to enjoy the singing and the company, and the camaraderie and the performing – which every member seems to have in spades.

After a lifetime of work in a competitive environment, the experience of singing with a crowd of like-minded people working together to create harmony (literally) is a real treat – the headteacher who insisted that his kids formed a choir to co-operate together each lunchtime instead of playing competitive games and ending up fighting each other had it absolutely right .

When the choir gets to sing – as it so often does – in one of the many beautiful little village churches around Wiltshire, where the stone is mellow and the acoustics wonderful, and we all hit the right note for the last line of Nessum Dorma , it quite makes your hair stand on end (and mine, if I had any) – magic.

One of my first jobs when I arrived in Swindon was to help work out a plan to re-use all the old railway works which were fast emptying as the work of building railway engines and carriages disappeared – so Alan Simmons’ piece called 'Evening Star', written to celebrate the opening, a few years ago, of the new Steam Museum in the old works, has a special place for me – and it’s a great tune too.

And although Dave Hackett and I always call for us to sing 'Nirvana' – a wonderful Victorian ballad which you can ham up to great effect, and a great favourite of mine – Bob Jones always pretends he can’t hear us. We’ll continue to work on him.

Anything and everything – except (to misquote the old saying) Morris Dancing.


Keeping 40 or so members of my Rotary Club in order as their Secretary seems to take up an inordinate amount of time. The rest is spent trying to avoid gardening.