Dai was There – 1971

1971 continued in the same vein as the previous year with a steady increase in numbers, many concerts and another win at the Kington Eisteddfod. This time the Choir appeared resplendent in their new uniforms consisting of black blazers, grey trousers, white shirt, black shoes and a new tie. A competition had been held to design a blazer badge and the winner was Austin Keeble. The cloth badge consisted of the three feathers encircled by the Choir name, embroidered in silver on a black background. Austin’s magnificent prize was £1.

At a meeting on 21st January, John Evans and Bill Nash resigned from the committee due to being over committed. Jack Williams and Dave Gould were elected to take their place.

Going back to the beginning of the year, the Choir made it’s first trip to watch the rugby international in Scotland. Most of the men, along with some friends, arrived in Dumfries on the Thursday evening staying at the King’s Head Hotel for the weekend. There were no concerts arranged but it would probably be true to say that even if the locals had never heard of Caldicot before, they certainly had by the following Sunday. The lads kept the hotel staff, especially those behind the bar, busy for the whole weekend and the Manager thanked everyone on our departure for giving him his best weekend’s takings ever.

Friday was spent sightseeing and in the afternoon everyone went along to watch the local rugby side play a match against Seven Sisters Rugby Club, who were also using Dumfries as a base for the weekend. Before leaving for Edinburgh on the Saturday morning the Choir were asked to sing around the Rabbie Burns Memorial in the centre of Dumfries. Imagine everyone’s surprise on arrival to find the the famous poet’s statue swathed in a Welsh scarf and weraing a red and white bobble hat, with a bunch of daffodils in one hand and a large leek in the other! It was obvious Seven Sisters had already paid their respect to the Bard.

In Edinburgh the party spent a very pleasant hour in the University Staff Club, known as the ‘Don’s Club’, before making our way to Murrayfield for the match. Afterwards it was back to the Don’s Club where a meal was waiting. There was only one way to repay their kind hospitality and there ensued another marvellous sing-song which lasted until eight o’clock when the transport arrived for the journey back to Dumfries. The Choir left for home on the Sunday morning, stopping at Penrith for lunch and an alcohol ‘top up’.

On Saturday 19th June, the Choir again travelled to Kington for the Eisteddfod, This time entering the ‘OPEN’ class as the Choir had now reached over 40 in number. The Test Piece was ‘The Marching Song’ by Matayas Seiber and the order of singing and marks were as follows :-

  • Drybrook and District M.V.C. – 84
  • Blaenavon M.V.C. – 86
  • Caldicot and District M.V.C. – 88
  • Burry Port and District M.V.C. – 85
  • Rhymney Silurian M.V.C. – 87
  • Cwmbran M.V.C. – 86

First prize again

Following this success a decision was made to enter the Miner’s Eisteddfod at Porthcawl in the Autumn. The Test Piece was‘The Marching Song’ and any Welsh Hymn, and ‘Gwahoddiad’ was our choice. The contest was held on a Saturday night in October and the Choir on arrival realised they had not arranged anywhere for a last minute rehearsal! Undaunted, our Conductor Ralph Hodges gathered everyone at the west end of the Promenade under a streetlight and proceeded to rehearse‘Gwahoddiad’ unaccompanied.

It was a shambles! It was dark, and with the sound of the waves crashing against the sea wall behind us and a force ten gale blowing we sang. Nobody could hear their own voice let alone the next man in line. Then it started to rain!! There was a mad dash for the Pavilion and surprisingly the Choir sang very well, although not achieving a result. This was the first time we had entered the ‘big time’ eisteddfodau and the adjudicator after enquiring where Caldicot was, remarked “It was nice that a choir had travelled from the borders to compete”.

Some Committee meeting points from 1971

  • First Choir Marshal appointed – Colin Jones.
  • To help ailing funds (the total in July stood at £92.18) 15p would be collected from each chorister on all bus journeys.
  • Contributions would be increased in 1972 to 10p per week.
  • Concert fees were set at £25 (including transport) with discretion to be used when dealing with charities and senior citizens.

Some of the payments made in 1971

  • 35p per head for a chicken salad at a social evening at the Haywain pub following the Kington Eisteddfod success.
  • £7.75 to repair a piano.
  • £5.00 – Wedding present of bed linen to Ann Ruggles who appeared with us often as an artist.

The year ended with concerts in Newport, Henbury in Bristol, and the usual Christmas visit to Mount Ballan residential home. Although some concern ws voiced about poor attendance at concerts, the number of choristers had risen to 58 on the books at the end of 1971.

From Dave Gould’s Choir History – ‘Dai was There’

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