John Angus, 1982 - 2017, Aged 82John joined the choir on 1st June, 1982, acted as PRO from 1999 to 2009, and a member of our Executive Committee from 2010 to 2015.
He was elected a Life Member of GMVC in 2011.
"John started compering our concerts in 2001. Of particular note is our trip to France when he surprised us all by speaking in French, not all the time but quite a bit!!
"One Saturday night a few years ago I attended the Town Hall to see Gresley Male Voice Choir in concert. Never having seen them before I went along to satisfy my curiosity. Prior to this the only other Male Voice Choir I had seen was the Treorchy Male Voice Choir back in the mid-1970's, in their own home town.
I therefore, find it doubly sad, for both John and Ian helped to introduce me to whole new experience in singing/entertaining which I wholeheartedly enjoy to this day. Thanks, John, thanks, Ian. RIP"..........contributed by Tony Mulcahy
Ray Collier, 1988 - 2015Ray was a keen and valued member of the choir for 27yrs. He attended all concerts except for illness etc and went on most of the tours.
Being a member of the choir helped him get over the loss of his wife and when he was ill during his last years he became a non-singing member at concerts, but kept coming to choir practices.
Ray was never an officer or a member of any committee but was an integral, long lasting part of the Gresley Male Voice Choir
Joe Eyley, 2002 -2016
Joe Eyley was a long standing and much respected member of our Special Purposes Committee. He will be sadly missed as he contributed so greatly over the years as Ticketing Agent, Doorman
Eric Jackson, 1925 - 2014
Most people will remember him for his work with the National Association of Choirs. He was the choir’s representative on the local area committee and when the NAC decided in 1984 to set up group 10 in the Midlands, Eric took on the responsibility of Chairman for the group with John Newton, Gresley’s Secretary, alongside him as Secretary. Eric’s total devotion to the work of the National Association eventually saw him appointed as its National Chairman and for many years he travelled extensively in the UK in support of choirs at special events and welcoming new choirs into the association. He was eventually honoured with the appointment as President, a position he has held ever since. His involvement with the NAC was a great help to the Gresley choir in the early days providing contacts for Ken Wildes who was the SP secretary resulting in many choir exchange visits throughout the UK. His support has continued of course with Clive Lawton since his increased involvement with the National Association.
There was another side to Eric, which has not been brought to the fore recently because of his busy life with the NAC. In addition to his hobby of singing he was a poet and was regularly writing on a daily basis according to his wife Margaret, putting the words together in a hardback book, handy in the kitchen, before leaving for work. Many of Eric’s poems were printed in the choir’s High Notes news letter/magazine and occasionally the compere in choir concerts would use one. At the Celebrity Concert in 1991 the programme included a special performance of a composition entitled “Gresley” with words by Eric and music by Roy Davies, in Roy’s own words - A Meditation. The piece was dedicated to Gresley Male Voice Choir, a first in the choir’s history. Eric was also valued for his ability with a calligraphy pen. When the choir member’s Roll of Honour book was set up in 1981 Eric agreed to enter all the names in it, a duty he has always carried out.
On a personal level as chairman, I became very close to Eric and thankful for his friendship and support over many years, in particular, with his role as Vice Chairman. On the first visit to Florida in 1984 Eric and his wife Margaret, my wife Janet and myself, by arrangement, had apartments in the motel next to each other. We were able to ‘wind down’ at the end of each hectic day with a nightcap together and review the day’s events. Eric’s support and friendship through the years together with his calming influence in difficult times was much appreciated. When he and his wife relocated to Swanwick North Derbyshire with his work, he remained loyal to the choir throughout, maintained his membership travelling to rehearsals and concerts. The choir members were pleased to travel to his local Parish Church in concert to benefit Swanwick and Pentrich Churches. This was repeated two years later and concerts in the Ripley Parish church followed.
Sadly, Eric’s wife Margaret after years of medication with progressive ill health passed away; a serious blow to Eric, a comparatively young man. As a mark of gratitude to the staff of the Haematology Department of Derbyshire Royal Infirmary for the way they had cared for his wife he sponsored a concert in the Queens Hall Methodist Church featuring the Gresley choir with all the funds going to the unit. Eric’s family was very mindful of dad’s situation and was friends with a lady’s family who had lost her husband. They suggested that they might like to meet, and introduced them. Without doubt Janet Broster who has played a major part in the life of Eric was a stalwart supporter with his work with the NAC. The comment made earlier about Eric’s travelling around the UK was with Janet accompanying him on his many miles supporting him encouraging choirs throughout the UK in addition to his membership with Gresley. I first met Janet with Eric at a Barn Dance held at the Rolleston School. No, they weren’t there just for the dance they had attended a fund raising event organised by the Special Purposes committee of which Eric was involved, such was Janet’s support. The choir was privileged to hold a fund raising Open Air Concert at her home, The Croft, in Linton, with special guests, The Boundary Singers and styled as a picnic evening with the choirs performing on sit-on staging and amplification as required.
We at Gresley choir have been very fortunate in having a member like Eric in our midst and were always proud for him to be on our front row, displaying his chain of office in concert, knowing that so many people respected him. During the last year he and Janet have suffered so many misfortunes with health problems and accidents, unbelievable, but they have always been in our thoughts. We express our sincere condolences to Keith, Sheila and families for the loss of man who had so much to offer and will be missed by so many people around the UK and by his colleagues in Gresley Choir. To Janet who was the main ‘life blood’ of Eric in his latter years you should take great comfort from the fact that he achieved a great deal, that without your help and undaunting support would have been very difficult.
Royston ( Roy ) Hughes Davies, 1925 - 2013
A Tribute written by Roy Atkins, 1st June 2013
Our thoughts at this time must be with the Davies family, a distressing time for them in the 13th.year of this Century with the loss of Ian followed by his dad, Roy and Thelma in the first days of the year. Having said that we must remember Roy Davies for a long and memorable life and for the contribution he gave to the community. I first met Roy just after he arrived at Newhall in 1960. At Central Methodist Church Choir rehearsal one Thursday evening I said to my brother, “who is that dark haired fellow in the Basses? “At that time Janet and I were living in Winshill, George said, “Oh he’s the new Postmaster”. As Newhall Postmaster, he was of course, greatly involved with the life of the community but I never realised at that time how much involvement he would have on my own life through his musical talents.
Let us start at the beginning. Roy was born into a world of music in the South Wales Village of Abergwynfi in Glamorgan, but lived most his childhood at Nantyffyllon near Maesteg until the family moved to Burton-on-Trent in 1939. Even before he could handle the keys correctly, at the age of four, his father gave him piano lessons. By the age of ten he was accompanying his uncle at local Eisteddfods and playing the piano for his elementary school choir. At the age of fourteen, as a soprano soloist he had the pleasure of performing in Maesteg Town Hall. The move to Burton caused a break in his musical activities. Following a period in industry and the RAF he joined the post office service and married Edna, a Burtonian.
Roy joined the Central Methodist Church Choir following an invitation from Harry Hardwick when he attended an evening service at the church. It was also the beginning of a life long friendship and brought together his son Ian with Harry and Thelma’s daughter Linda together in marriage. I became directly involved with Roy when we were invited by Wilf Eames, the conductor at ‘Central’ to take solo items in the “Lamb of God” oratorio along with Stella Atkin (Thelma’s Sister). It is clear that with Roy and Edna’s children attending Sunday School it had re-kindled his interest in music. (A statement Roy made himself.) In addition to the solo work that the children did with his support, Roy was very active with solos and duets as and when required at the church’s social events and concerts. His duetist partner on occasions was Ernie Musk who invited him to Gresley Male Voice Choir’s annual dinner at the Stanhope Arms and was followed up by him joining the choir in 1964. Roy became the conductor of the church choir when Wilf Eames retired, and took on the responsibility of training and conducting the Sunday School Anniversary for a number of years.
As a member of the Gresley choir Roy became a regular soloist. I had the pleasure of joining him in duets, “The Gendarmes Duet”, The “Larboard Watch”, “Linden”, a special Welsh hymn arrangement and others. However, as we know from Ian’s experience of his father, “don’t forget your words!!”. This happened to me when a group of us from Central were entertaining at Newhall Ebenezer church one evening and I fluffed my words in “Larboard Watch”, he was not best pleased.
Roy was appointed the Assistant Conductor in 1975 and became the Conductor in 1977 when Reg Baker retired from the post following 29 years service, the longest in the choir’s history. This was to begin an association between Roy and myself as officers for a period of 18 years with the Male Voice Choir and 9 years with the Boys Choir. I like to believe it was a constructive association. To take over from Reg Baker who had gained the members loyalty for so many years, Roy had “his work cut out”; but soon the choir settled down. Within a few months of taking up his post the choir received an invitation from Crew M.V.C. to join the first ever Festival of Massed English Male Voice Choirs at the Royal Albert Hall in May the following year, 1978. The concert was to be conducted by the Director of the Liverpool Philharmonic, Edmund Walters, who would be providing his arrangements of items based mainly on English Folk songs. The choir was flattered and delighted to take part but “ oh what a challenge!! “. Roy and the choir worked hard and history confirms the outcome, and it was repeated three more times, every other year.
Roy became the first conductor to go on a concert tour abroad with the choir. This came about following an annual concert visit to Albert Village Methodist Church. A lady from the village was over on holiday from Florida and bought a choir recording, gave it to Dr.Magin, a musician and impresario on her return to Florida and the choir was invited to take part in a series of concerts around St.Petersburg. After a lot of fund raising by choir members and support from the local community the tour when ahead in 1984.
In addition to the quality of the performance Roy achieved in concert, the choir had success in Burton Festivals winning the Male Voice Class each year from 1981 to 1989, also five Open Choir Class awards and four Championship awards during the same period.The Burton Festival ceased to operate after this period. Also, in 1987 the choir won the Male Voice Class and Championship in the Derby Festival. There were many notable concerts in this country and abroad during Roy’s time with the baton and not forgetting the performance in the presence of the Duke of Edinburgh. No doubt many choir members who enjoyed Roy’s directorship will have their own particular memories to treasure.
Roy and I got to know each other
quite well and, to my surprise, he suggested, “what about us joining the
leisure centre in some kind of fitness activity like squash”. I did check about
squash one day and the differences between the hard and soft ball game etc. but
I was not drawn to the game, it seemed to be a bit too energetic for me at that
time and Roy was ten years older than me.
I didn’t remind him about it and he never mentioned it again.
The Male Voice Choir in 1995 was in the process of forming a Boys’ choir and it
was decided to use separate musicians rather than put additional work on the
adult choir’s conductor and accompanist. It was agreed that we approach Roy to
take it on and he agreed to accept the challenge. Roy joined me on visits to
around 50 schools in Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Leicestershire, backed up
with letters to the schools and interested parental.The inaugural meeting was
held in Sept. 1996 and a debut performance of 14 boys took place during the
Gresley Charity Concert held at Trinity Church, George Street Burton in May
1997. In a period of 9 years the boys performed in many venues in the area,
local churches, the Brewhouse Arts Centre on a number of occasions at the
annual youth music group concerts, Burton Town Hall in a joint concert of NAC
choirs and in Derby Cathedral with the adult choir. Concerts outside the area
included a visit to Bryan Hollins son’s Methodist Church in Wantage
Oxfordshire, a Charity Exchange visit with the Adult choir to Audley & District
MVC in Cheshire and a number of visits to NAC group 10 concerts in the
May God be with you.
Ian Charles Davies, 1953-2013.
19th February 2013, Newhall Methodist Church
This is one tribute that I didn’t
want to write at this time, for the right reasons. As a long serving member of
the choir it always seemed appropriate for me to express the feelings of the
choir for a member who has passed away based on my my knowledge of a person’s
service. There are of course many aspects of a member’s life other than his
choir’s service and I felt totally inadequate to be able to do justice to Ian.
I was also deeply upset by his death as were many people and sometimes the
right words are difficult to find. With the many funerals of choir members I
have attended over the years, yes always sad but often for a member having had
a much longer life and sometimes following a long illness. In Ian’s case it was
totally different than I had ever experienced and as I advised my wife I was
not looking forward to the funeral. I have always been very sensitive and
becoming more emotional as I grow older like my dad did and knowing the music
and hymns that were going to be sung by the choir and congregation I was
worried about being overcome.
The first hymn is often used when a male voice choir is in attendance, and it didn’t disappoint - All hail the power of Jesu’s name - to the tune of Diadem. A great start to the service.
The service was led by the Rev. Sue Rolls who handled it very well. Sue announced that we were now to have Triple Tributes to be given by herself, Ian’s Sister Gillian Shilton and Ian’s friend / duettist colleague Steve Hickman. These were first class. As each person finished their contribution you could detect a desire to applaud. The sounds of ---umms from the congregation in appreciation were obvious.
Sue gave a thumbnail history of Ian’s life, born in Stapenhill, giving his dad problems with his vegetable garden. He moved to Newhall when his dad became the Postmaster and attended the Sunday School in this church. He sang a solo on the Anniversary and was told off by his dad, the conductor, for forgetting his words. When he left school he went to Technical College in Burton and followed this with an apprenticeship at Pirelli. He then joined Woodville Polymer as a Quality Control Engineer. Sue explained his meeting with Linda the daughter of their parents friends, Harry and Thelma Hardwick. Following his marriage to Linda he had full and loving family life with daughters Heather and Faye and grandchildren, Ben, Abi, Joe, and Eliot , not forgetting Steve , Andy and their extended family. He Joined Gresley Male Voice Choir and along with Steve Hickman sang ‘Abiding Love’ at Thelma’s Funeral.
Gillian gave an intimate insight into the family life that Ian enjoyed, covering many stories all arranged in poetic verse. She also included an incident that the family have never forgotten when they left baby Helen in her pram outside a shop until some asked where’s the baby. Gill also managed to cover the strict regime that Roy followed to ensure that children were brought up correctly. A long and interesting poem structured to ensure some humorous content whilst reminding us of the pain involved at this time. In complimenting Gillian afterwards expressing how well she managed to cope with dealing with it she explained that she had to be careful on the choice of words in the poem to enable her to read it.
Steve Hickman explained his first meeting with Ian and all the family and how it extended to Ian’s friends, Angie and Graham. Also the routine of going out together for celebrating special events. He also explained Ian’s passion and total commitment to the choir working holidays around choir engagements. This changed when his first grandson Ben came along when he felt had to support Linda with baby sitting, and dropped the choir to a very strong second place. Steve commented that Ian loved his family and always had a smile when another grandchild came along. Steve explained how Ian’s passion for the choir would sometimes cause Ian to upset poeple with his comments but would apologise when he had calmed down, but not retract his main point. He enjoyed singing with Ian, in the baritones and in the duets and commented that the choir has now lost the remaining member of the Davies family, members for the last 60 yrs. Steve explained how Ian had enjoyed the four days in London along with his friends and commented on the shows they had seen. The last concert that Ian sang in and commented on was included in Steve’s tribute. Ian was apparently happy with 99% but not with Sunset Poem. Steve gave a nod to a smiling Karl and closed with the following.
It’s been an honour and privilege to know you. You were a true friend in every sense of the word and meaning. I would like to finish with this poem I found and hope it brings a little comfort to his family and Friends.
Feel no guilt in laughter, he’d know how much you care.
Feel no sorrow in a smile that he is not here to share.
You cannot grieve forever; he would not want you to.
He’d hope that you could carry on the way you always do.
So, talk about the good times and the way you showed you cared,
the days you spent together, all the happiness you shared.
let memories surround you , a word someone may say
will suddenly recapture a time , an hour, a day,
that brings him back as clearly as though he were still here,
And fills you with the feeling that he is always near.
For if you keep those moments , you will never be apart
and he will live-forever locked safely within your hearts.
service continued with the choir singing one of Ian’s solo songs - Arise O Sun. Not an easy song to sing for
choir, stretching the range of their voices, but the choir performed it well.
The final hymn for the congregation was CWM Rhondda. I have not sung since June
2010 but I had to join in on the third verse singing in the bass register and
making up my own harmony, sorry Karl. The final item by the choir as the
funeral party processed out of the church was Gwahoddiad. An appropriate climax
to a funeral service and much appreciated by everyone.
A little story aside from the choir. I am a member of Swadlincote Probus Retirement club and some years ago we were due to visit Woodville Polymer for a tour. At the time I thought oh, Ian works there, perhaps I’ll get a chance to see what ‘he gets up to.‘ On arrival we were directed into a committee room and waited for someone to take us round. You’ve no doubt guessed. Ian came in and gave us a welcome talk about the company and took us on a very informative tour of the factory. I had just retired from Pirelli so it was useful to look at another rubber process. Incidentally I did in fact give Ian a lift to Pirelli the first day Ian started his apprenticeship.
Talking to Ian a few weeks ago the subject was raised about the choir’s first concert tour to Florida. It was possibly raised because of Ian’s latest diagnosis. Ian was on the list to go to Florida in 1984 and just a few weeks before we were about to leave Ian received the appointment for his heart operation. It was to take place on the Tuesday following the choir’s programmed arrival time in Florida the previous Saturday. A concern for us all for all sorts of reasons. Clearly the priority was for Ian to have his operation. I was somewhat surprised and I suppose relieved that Roy and Edna were prepared to still go ahead with Tour. You can imagine the feeling of the group, 67 in total, assembling for breakfast on the Tuesday of Ian’s operation. I had just started breakfast when Dr.Magin, the impresario/tour coordinator, came up to me and said I understand that your musical director’s son is having a major heart operation today? I confirmed it and he said what will happen if he has to go back to the UK ? To put his mind at rest I said “I will conduct the choir” He walked away and made no further comment. Fortunately, although we hadn’t any concerts that day, because we were 6hrs behind the UK we heard that the operation had gone well even before we left the dining room. I have to say that we were all delighted with the news. Ian’s comment to me when I told him what had happened he just said “Oh it was no problem.”
I had a poignant moment at the choir rehearsal a few days before Ian’s Funeral. The librarian Keith Mitchell gave me a pile of music for the coming year and among it was a copy of Ride the Chariot. The last time we sang it I joined Ian for the duet section. I used to walk over to him in the baritones to sing the tenor part. I think I did alright for him.
There is no doubt that the contribution that Ian made to the choir’s life in music and to it’s many followers has been impressive. His solo selections were varied venturing into the modern items such as ‘You raise me Up’ originally made famous by Josh Groban and sung as a solo by Ian before the choir sang it in concert. We remember items like ‘Count your blessings One by One’, ‘I’ll Walk with God’ `He also reminded me of one of my own solos I sang as a boy soprano- The Hymns My Mother Used to Sing. I have fond memories of Ian’s stellar performances he gave during The Loire Valley tour in France, ‘Once in every Lifetime’ and of course ‘Arise O Sun’.
I filmed the main concerts on the tour and was very disappointed that Ian would not agree with me to include the duet ‘Abiding Love‘ on the disc. Why? Typical of Ian, the performance was not good enough. No doubt he was right but the audience enjoyed it.
I would just like to reflect on the funeral for my final comment. Janet and I arrived early for the funeral and as I sat down and looked around I felt at home. Yes, this was the church were Ian and I were brought up through the Sunday School and eventually singing in the choir. We had witnessed many notable musical events in a capacity filled church. Observing the many faces as they arrived to celebrate Ian’s life I realised that this event was going to be something very special. The faces of the visitors said it all. In addition to many people from the local community, Ian’s work colleagues, members of the Boundary Singers choir, the various local churches and many Gresley Male Voice choir supporters including those outside of the area. The most telling image for me was seeing many exGMVC members dating back to the time prior to Ian joining the choir, faces that I had not seen for years. One particular friend sat behind me, had joined the choir some years ago following the coaxing from Ian at another choir members funeral. A very loyal member, edited the choir’s High Notes Newsletter/ Magazine until he had to retire from the choir due to family commitments.
The atmosphere before the service started was warming up all the time as people arrived. Gerald was taking us a journey through the choir’s repertoire of music on the organ that I’m sure Ian would have appreciated. You could virtually feel the love emanating from the gathering. With the service that followed Roy and his family deserve a great deal of credit for formatting along with Rev. Sue Rolls a very special service for the celebration of Ian’s life. The contribution of Karl, Tanya, Gerald and the choir he loved, providing Ian’s music. I can imagine him, looking down on us, with a smile on his face and saying. “Thank you very much. You’ve done me proud”.
God Bless You All.
Eulogy given by John Wilton, Thursday 31st January 2013,
Peter was born in Oxford St. Church Gresley in what was locally known as Stone Row and he grew up there with his parents and younger sister. He attended York Road school and also the Park Methodist Sunday School
He left school at age 14 and started work at the Co-op and over the following years was to work his way up to become a Branch Manager.
Why me ? but on reflection having known Peter for at least 64
years, I came to the conclusion that I should share with you some memories and
experiences of Peter.
he joined the newly formed Lea Side Singers and soon became fully involved as singer,
soloist, duetist, committee member and treasurer. His support to the younger
less experienced singers was greatly appreciated throughout the years. Unfortunately
he had to retire last October.-but typical of the man. he stepped in at Trinity
Church, Linton ,last November, right at the very very last minute to assist a
depleted bass section.-this was to be the last time he sang in public.
helped out at several local churches in augmented choirs, to sing at special services and particularly for the special Easter performances of
"The Crucifixion" and "Olivet to Calvary"etc. He was always in great
demand and as usual always eager to help out when he could.
my brother Alan, Edwin Byford and myself were getting Hilda’s piano
reminded me this week,-she gave us a decent sized bar of chocolate
was very interested in sport, particularly football and cricket.In the
mentioned helping out at local churches and I remember one particular
could be quite forthright in his opinions but you always new where he
He has been a loyal, hardworking, generous and very supportive member of the choirs he has sung with and also to the National Association of Choirs, Midlands East Group where he served as a member and also Treasurer for a time
68 years service to Gresley Male Voice Choir,
50 years service to Swadlincote Messiah Choral Society and
42 years service to the Lea Side singers !!
A truly remarkable achievement by a man totally dedicated to his love of choral singing
Although we have lost a friend and loyal member of the choir, a first class singer from the front line of the bass section, we should remember his contribution to the choir over many years.Peter was one of the first to be awarded Life Membership. It was commented on at the AGM that Peter had set a membership record of 67 yrs, which is unlikely to be beaten in our lifetime.
The previous longest serving member was Godfrey Hull, a founder member in 1904 up to 1962.Peter was a native of Church Gresley and attended the Primitive Methodist Chapel opposite Lea Memorial Park, where the choir was formed. He was very much involved with all the music of chapel, and sang in the choir. It is not surprising then that he joined the male voice choir when it restarted its rehearsals at the end of the war in 1945.
Peter enjoyed his singing and went for some lessens with school teacher and choir's accompanist at the time Shiela Garside, so that he could sing solos for the choir, which he did on a number of occasions. His singing was not confined to the male voice choir, he also joined the New Methodist Singers in 1972 (later renamed The Leeside Singers) and the Messiah Choir in Swadlincote about the same time as myself in the 50's. He was always prepared to help out at other churches for special events, as he did for my own church, Newhall Central Methodist with Easter performances such as The Crucifixion or Olivet to Calvary etc.
When I joined the choir in 1949 Peter and I became friends. We were the young ones in the choir. He enjoyed cricket and I remember when we were both on holiday in north Wales. Peter, Hilda and friends in Llandudno, Janet and myself and family in Conway we met up at Erias Park in Colwyn Bay and played a friendly game of Cricket. We once played tennis in Woodville Recreation Ground which was one of their pastimes before they took on the Post Office.
I had a great deal of respect for Peter in committee. You knew if he was dissatisfied with the choir's performance at a recent concert he would make his views known at the next meeting. Music was everything to Peter. I remember when the choir committee put forward the proposal to introduce a formal uniform. He was very much against it. His comment was, I quote - "a uniform is not going to make us sing any better". But, a clear demonstration of his loyalty: Peter went along with the choir's decision and was indeed proud to wear the uniform.
could all learn a great deal from Peter's life and appreciate what he did for
the choir. He blessed the choir with his talents, supported the
choir to the full with an attendance second to none, and his
general demeanor to his colleagues in the choir and to the outside world had “Gresley” written all over it. To Hilda, her
family and friends, we express our sincere condolences and
say a very big “Thank you” for the support you have given Peter and the choir over many years.
Tribute to Ken Nichols – contributed by Roy Atkins 24th February 2012
I find it difficult to choose the appropriate words to express my feelings for Ken's unfaltering loyalty to
the choir during the 33 years of his membership. He had a quiet demeanour but that did not deter him from
helping the choir. A year after he joined when the celebrity concert was transferred to Burton town hall he
put his professional abilities to work for the choir. He was employed by Central Electricity Generating
Board at Drakelow Power Station where he was the Head Gardener in the green houses and provided
floral decoration on the stage for many years until he retired.
Ken travelled on all the foreign tours and choir exchange visits when he was able and put to good use his
main hobby of photography which the choir members enjoyed, recalling many happy memories. In 1987 I
asked him if he would use a video camera on the choir's tour to Germany. Ken Wildes had managed to
borrow a hand held Sony video camera of the type used by ITV news reporters. Ken Nichols was a little
reluctant but did some filming along with many still photographs. He joined Ken Wildes and myself over
many days and hours following the tour to put together a film combining videos and stills on primitive
editing equipment which was later viewed by choir members and visitors one evening in the rehearsal
room. I regret on one occasion I upset Ken. We were in Ilfracombe and preparing to have a photograph
taken in the park down the road from the church. I asked Ken to join the choir, who were all in uniform.
The choir was also surrounded by visitors and I suggested that he hand the camera to someone else to take
the photograph. I cannot remember the outcome but following our return from Devon he let me know he
was 'not best pleased' with me. I apologised but thinking back I believe it may have been his idea for the
photo' so he had every right to be upset.
It did not affect our relationship. A few years after he agreed to take over the job of archivist from John
Wilton he helped me to put together the displays in the Atkins Room. He also continued to steward the
room and control the historical records, adding photographs that he had taken over the years. In addition
to taking most of the photographs of long service presentations at the Celebrity Concert he was always
ready and prepared to take pictures of the Boys Choir and their long service awards. In fact I believe it
may have been that the last photos' he took, were of the long service awards for two retiring boys the
Wednesday leading up to the Seasonal Concert. He was due to take another photo' at the concert on the
Saturday when we received the call that he was ill.
Although a quiet man on the musical side he was very much 'with it.' He understood his music very well
even to playing a keyboard to check his music. Some years ago at one of our rehearsals at Linton Heath
Ken was on his own in the second tenors so I moved over from the first tenors to help him out. I needn't
have bothered he had no problem with holding his line. In my latter years with the Swadlincote Messiah
Society I had the pleasure of sitting next to Ken on the front row for the annual performance of the
The choir have missed Ken for his support and his voice in the second tenors. He was always early for
practice and would start setting up the chairs as soon as he arrived and then assembling the keyboard
along with the members. Yes, missed! But he will never be forgotten. He has given the choir a
wonderful legacy with his photographs to enhance the choir's history. We extend our sincere condolences
to Joan and all the family in the loss of a loved one, much revered by all. May we also express our
gratitude and appreciation to you all for the support you have given to the choir over the years and
enabling Ken to give
so much of his time to the choir.