Luminaries

Howard Thomas Musical Director

Howard's dynamic and positive approach together with his dedication and enthusiasm has brought us on to greater heights since he first took up the baton in 1989.

A Welshman, born in Tredagar, he came to live in Anston in 1976. Howard was brought up in a musical tradition of choral singing. He has sung with Gwent Youth Choir, University College, London Society, The London Student Chorale (with whom he sang in concert at The Royal Festival Hall and The Royal Albert Hall). He also toured with them abroad. He has also been a member of Leicester Male Voice Choir.

Howard studied Geography at University College, London prior to obtaining his PGCE at Leicester University. His career in education commenced at John Cleveland College ( Hinckley Grammar School ) followed by Dinnington Comprehensive School as Head of Geography and Kimberworth Comprehensive School where he retired in 2004 as Deputy Headteacher.

He spends any spare time with his family, including eight grandchildren, enjoys caravanning and foreign travel, as well as being an avid supporter of Sheffield United.

Cynthia Herrington Piano Accompanist

Cynthia, our accompanist, studied music at Ripon College of Education and has trained various school choirs and recorder groups during her teaching career. She was the accompanist for Woodsetts Choral Group for several years and succeeded Winnie Pearce as our accompanist in 1983.

Mike Martin Chairman

Mike is our present Chairman and was born in Sheffield in 1946, moving to South Anston in 1977 with his wife and two daughters.

His musical career began,aged 11,when he joined his school choir singing soprano.

His career in engineering involved frequent travel, putting music and his other hobbies on hold, but in 1995 he returned to singing joining Anston Male Voice Choir, by now a bass rather than a soprano.

Other than singing Mike's other loves are fishing and family, which includes two wonderfully exhausting grandchildren.

Barrie Kirby Chairman 2008-2013

Barrie was born in Lossiemouth in 1944 and after spending his early years of employment in the car industry in Hull he moved to Sheffield to a management position at T.C. Harrisons where he met his wife, Gillian, who he married in 1970. Barrie set up his own business importing and exporting parts for cars but due to the eventual demise of the car industry Barrie moved into the electric heating business until retirement in 2001.

Barrie joined the Anston Male Voice Choir in 2000 and found the experience very rewarding as he had not sung in public since his choirboy days, almost 50 years before. Barrie was soon enlisted onto the committee, eventually becoming Chairman in 2008.

As Chairman Barrie was instrumental in encouraging new and younger members and set up a number of singing workshops to successfully gain new singers. Barrie also became involved with raising funds for the Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice in his home village of Woodsetts and has helped support this cause through his leadership of the choir.

In his spare time Barrie enjoys his family life which includes 2 grandchildren and is a keen amateur watercolour artist.

Wilf Clarke

Wilf Clarke had such a natural talent for music he was a proficient organist at the age of 12, an instrument he studied under Sheffield City Organist Professor H.C. Bitcliffe, he obtained his choral training under Dr. Desmond McMahon.

Most of his musical life was spent in the south of England where he held posts as Organist and Choirmaster of Welling Parish Church, Margate Parish Church and the historic church of Long Melford, Suffolk.

Over the years he has trained and conducted various choirs many of which achieved considerable reputations and a vast experience in directing massed and augmented choirs in major festivals. He was also much in demand as a competition adjudicator.

On his return to the area he lost no time in joining our choir and was quickly appointed deputy Conductor and Deputy to the accompanist. He sang in the Bass section an experience which he at the time was new, relaxing and extremely enjoyable.

On the retirement of Jim Thompson he was appointed Musical Director with Howard Thomas as his Deputy and once again the choir was to reap the benefit of being under the leadership of an exceptional and gifted musician. Unfortunately due to ill health Wilf had to cut down on his commitment and handed over over the leadership to Howard.

Jim Thompson

Jim had a very varied and successful musical career, as early as 1929 he was a bandsman with the famous Callenders Cable Works Band taking part with them in their 150th radio broadcast. In 1939, along with his brother George (who became famous in brass band circles), Jim founded Belvedere Male Voice Choir.

Because of the war Jim was transferred to Coventry in 1940 where he also formed a choir. In 1942 he moved to Grimethorpe having been offered a position with their famous colliery band. He made over a hundred with the Grimethorpe band. During his time at Grimethorpe he also conducted Houghton Main Band and Stocksbridge Band where he enjoyed great success.

Jim was proud to think that in 1947 he was offered a position in the BBC Northern Orchestra but as at the time he was also conducting Frickley Colliery Band as well as other bands he was unable to accept the offer. However in 1953 an opportunity came to conduct Odhams Press Band where he also enjoyed great success.

Having formed three Male Voice Choirs Jim could have claimed that this was his second love after Brass Bands, we were very lucky to have enjoyed the services of such a gifted musician who could have proudly claimed to have participated in over 300 broadcast during his career.