Dai was There – 1974

A weekend trip to Stoke on Trent proved a great success at the beginning of 1974. The Choir visited a pottery where everyone was presented with a blue ashtray with the Choir’s name on it, keen eyes will note they spelled Caldicot with two t’s – there’s one in the Cabinet on the wall. In the evening a concert was given for the Staffordshire Education Committee. This was followed by a reception at the GREEN MAN pub in the presence of the Mayor of Stoke. The Choir stayed the night in The George Hotel and travelled home the next morning.

March 25th saw the Choir perform at the International Helmaen Club in Usk, taking six bus loads of wives and supporters with them. In April a ‘CHOIR OPEN NIGHT’ was held at the Underwood Social Club where the proceedings were very informal. As well as the Choir singing there were individual ‘turns’ by Choristers and Club members. It was such a good night it resulted in the recruitment of several new singers. On April 9th the Choir were invited to help entertain twin town Weisental’s football team who were on a visit to Caldicot.

The Choir were present at Caldicot Castle in June at a ceremony to install a cannon from Lord Nelson’s flagship ‘Foudroyant’. Other concerts during the year included an appearance at Chepstow in aid of Spin Bifida, in Bristol for the Cornish Association and at Newport to raise money for the Mount Zion Chapel Restoration Fund.

The new Leisure Centre opened in Caldicot in 1974 and the Choir were asked to go along and check the acoustics, so one evening Richard Morgans finished rehearsal early and everyone assembled in the new hall. To every bodies dismay the sound reverberated around the walls to such an extent that the first line of a song was heard as an echo as the second line was being sung! This was why the Choir was asked to perform the test and consequently special acoustic panels were installed in the ceiling to correct the problem.

At the beginning of August the Choir travelled west to compete in the National Eisteddfod held every year in Carmarthen. The week previous had been very wet and on arrival at the Eisteddfod Field the conditions underfoot were mucky to say the least. Well! You can’t go on the ‘NATIONAL’ stage with muddy shoes can you! No problem to Caldicot however, because plastic bags were produced and fixed over everyone’s feet with elastic bands for protection. We didn’t come in the frame but if there had been a prize for shiny shoes we would have won hands down.

After the competition the buses returned as far as Cardiff where a very enjoyable night was had at a club in the Docklands area, sorry I can’t remember its name. At the end of the evening everybody left the Club expecting to board the two buses for the return journey to Caldicot only to find no buses! It transpired that Mr Dolan’s drivers had returned to Newport after dropping us off and two fresh drivers were to pick us up at 11:30pm but unfortunately no one had told the drivers. Luckily the Club hadn’t closed its doors and the owner invited us back inside whilst the Secretary made a hurried phone call to Newport to organise our return to Caldicot. To the joy of everyone the club declared a lock in and it was about 1.00am when we finally staggered onto the buses.

Money was always tight in the Choir and to supplement the finances we came up with a number of schemes. One was waste paper collections. During 1974 and 1975 many tons were gathered and sold to a recycling firm. Every practice night members would bring their bundles of newspapers etc., sometimes there would be as much as a quarter of a ton collected and it was taken by Ken Lewis or myself for storage in our car trailers. The paper was kept at an old barn off Chepstow Road. This was later demolished to make way for Castle Lea estate. When the barn was full a lorry would come and pick it up. There was however one snag, having been stored for several months, when the paper bundles and sacks were moved so did the rats. On collection days many a brave Choristers was seen to jump in the air and make a beeline for the door when a nest was uncovered!

The Annual General Meeting for 1974 was held on October 7th at Green Lane School where we practised. The following is taken from the minutes of actual meeting:-

ELECTIONS :-

  • CHAIRMAN – COLIN JONES
  • SECRETARY – RAY SMITH
  • TREASURER – TERRY TROLLOPE

There were 18 nominations for Committee and the following people elected and their votes :-

  • ALAN ROWLES – 53
  • DAVID GOULD – 53
  • KEN LEWIS – 51
  • JOHN LEWIS – 47
  • DAVID STOCKER – 45
  • DAVID SCOTT – 45
  • BRIAN WILMOT – 43
  • TERRY HANCOCK – 40
  • ISLWYN WATKINS – 34
  • DAVID CHOWN – 33
  • JOHN DAVIES – 33
  • IDRIS WINDOS – 30

There were five spoiled voting slips. The returning officers being Alan Collins and Richard Thomas, both of the first tenor section.

At the first meeting of the new Committee Alan Rowles was elected Vice Chairman, and a social committee was elected as follows :- John Lewis, Ken Lewis, David Gould, Idris Windos and David Scott.

The year came to an end with a social evening in the Wentwood Inn where wives and friends were invited to a buffet and sing-song. There were the usual visits to Mount Ballan residential home, the Star Inn and the popular get-together on Christmas morning in the Haywain.

The Choir number on the books was about 85 at the end of 1974.

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

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