Choir presents Awards to four Choristers at the Gala

Photographs by Colleen Gauntlett.  Left click on images to enlarge.
Caldicot Male Voice Choir is proud of the dedication, long service and achievements of its choristers over many years and is pleased to mark and reward these services with periodic presentations. At the end of its Gala concert on September 9th the Choir was pleased to present top tenor Anthony Howells and second tenor Roger Francis with certificates and special lapel badges to mark their remarkable achievement of 25 years of continuous service with the Choir.
Also presented on the same night were awards of Lifetime Achievement and Honorary vice presidency to two choristers who have over several years made significant contributions to the aims and values of the Choir, namely retired chorister John Ashcroft who was a long serving PRO and committee member of the choir and Peter Heslop, the longest serving chairman of the choir of over 14 years until 2009 and is still vice chairman of the choir.
The certificates and awards were presented jointly by Siân Hatton, Musical Director of the choir and Jessica Morden MP, a valued and long standing supporter.

Long serving Chorister presented with Civic Award



Another post shows four choristers being presented with the Choir’s long service and lifetime achievement awards at the end of the Gala concert. There are also a number of unsung heroes who do tremendous work and show outstanding commitment to the choir who often go unrecognised outside the choir circle.

It is with great pleasure that one of these, David Kirton has been presented with a Caldicot Citizenship award in recognition of his huge contribution and efforts to assist Caldicot Male Voice Choir. David has not only been the voluntary licencee of the choir bar but in his 26 years membership of the choir he has also provided outstanding service in addition as hall manager and transport manager. Without David’s involvement and time spent the Choir and its hall would be hard pressed to function.

David has also been recognised for giving up his spare time to drive voluntarily for Monmouthshire County Council’s Grass Roots bus service on several days of the week, a service much appreciated by many of the vulnerable and elderly people he helps.

Well done, David. This award is richly deserved and may I on behalf of the Choir also thank you for all your achievements.

The photograph shows David being presented with his award by Caldicot Mayor Phillip Stevens and Deputy Mayor Oliver Edwards. Oliver is also a bottom bass chorister in the Choir and recently toured with us to Scotland.

Sad loss of leading top tenor, Malcolm Reed


It is with great sadness that we pass on the news that leading top tenor Malcolm Reed passed away on Monday 11th September at 1 pm.

Malcolm had been an ever present and excellent top tenor in the front row for nigh on forty years.  He was devoted to the choir and despite his long illness, never complaining, he was until his admission to hospital recently, a stalwart, leading chorister at the end of the front row of tenors both at practice and concerts.

Unmistakable at the front with his shock of white hair (immaculately groomed) and beaming smile, he had a wonderful sense of humour and fun and although small in stature and modest in nature he had a huge, proud heart, a caring and friendly personality and he will be greatly missed. Immensely loyal and proud to be a member of Caldicot Male Voice Choir he embodied the full spirit of what it means to be a chorister and we shall always be grateful for his huge contribution and long service to help make this a great choir.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends at this very sad time but rest assured that Malcolm will be remembered for a long time to come as one of Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s great choristers. Rest in Peace, dear friend.


Unique Gala Concert Shared with Neighbouring Choir

The Two Choirs prepare to sing together for the first time ever.

Photo by Colleen Gauntlett


The audience at the Leisure Centre in Caldicot was witness to a unique event on Saturday 9th September when for the first time ever, despite being only four miles apart, Caldicot Male Voice and Chepstow Male Voice Choirs joined to give a magnificent Gala performance which showed off male voice choir singing at its finest.

With introductions by internationally renowned host and compere Dean Powell, the concert was opened by sixty Caldicot choristers with an arrangement of Cwm Rhondda (Bread of Heaven), followed by a mixed repertoire of ‘Anfonaf Angel’ (Guardian Angel), ‘Mansions of the Lord’ from the film ‘We are Soldiers’, the spiritual ‘Ride the Chariot’ conducted by Shirley Anne James and featuring soloists Siân Hatton and David Gould and rounding off with ‘A Voice of Singing’, a fast piece that shows off magnificent harmonies and moving cadences.

Chepstow, conducted by MD Richard Fry and accompanied by Kirsten Watson, wonderfully presented a different style of male voice singing with a mix of popular songs ranging from ‘Diolch I’r Ior’ (Thanks to the Lord) a powerful Welsh hymn, to the prayer by Valjean from Les Misérables ‘Bring Him Home’.  The first half programme also included the delightfully sung ‘This is the Moment’ from the musical Jeckyll and Hyde, ‘When I fall In Love’ a hit for Doris Day and finally ‘Memory’ from the musical Cats and made famous by Welsh singer Elaine Page.

At breaks in the proceeding the audience were wonderfully entertained by the jokes, anecdotes and information of presenter Dean Powell who as member of Treorchy Male Voice Choir is very familiar with the presentations of Male Voice Choir concerts.  This was the second time that Dean has hosted Caldicot’s Gala concert and hopefully it won’t be the last.

Part Two saw Chepstow return to the stage and again gave a superlative performance including the well known and rousing hymn ‘Deus Salutis (Llef)’, the theme song from the TV series The Vicar of Dibley, ‘The Twenty Third Psalm’ (if you hum it, it will stay with you all day), ‘Comrades in Arms’ and on to the fasting moving, foot tapping spiritual ‘Amen’ – This Little Light of Mine.  Chepstow certainly lit up the Gala with their bright light of wonderful singing,

Caldicot, led by MD Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson also presented a wide mix of pieces varying from a German drinking song ‘Aus der Traube in die Tonne’, to a wonderfully precise performance of ‘Shenandoah’, the now iconic ‘A Miner’s Song’, a firm favourite, the romantic but sad ‘Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn’ (Watching the White Wheat) and finalising with the Queen classic ‘Somebody to Love’ with soloist Siân Hatton. Although not sung by the choir for a few years, Caldicot is the only Male Voice Choir in the country to sing this arrangement by accompanist John Nicholson.

The concert ended with a wonderful finale of both choirs joining together on stage to sing the classic Male Voice hymn ‘Gwahoddiad’ (Invitation) conducted by Richard Fry and finally that great Easter hymn, ‘Morte Criste’ by Isaac Watts, ‘When I Survey the Wond’rous Cross conducted by Siân Hatton.

Following ‘Hen Wlad fy Nhadau’ the audience left in no doubt that Male Voice singing is alive and well in the furthest South East corner of Wales and may it long continue.

Following the concert, Chepstow were invited to the Choir Hall for ample refreshments and further entertainment of incredible Afterglow singing.

Many thanks to all those who helped to make this concert a wonderful success, from staff at the Leisure Centre, the music teams of both choirs, bar staff, those who set up and cleaned the choir hall and to the audience for their wonderful participation and enthusiasm.

Another Second Tenor joins the ranks

Earlier this week I reported that we had recruited an unprecedented two second tenors, Ken Nurden and Ron Atkins within the same week.  No one ever expected that when Rob Lane, a local resident, walked in with friend, second tenor, chorister Alyn Dawe to listen to us that he too decided to make the short journey in the break to the back room to have his voice assessed by MD Siân Hatton.  Much to everyone’s surprise he emerged, smiling to the announcement that he too was a second tenor!

Despite having to do a first half part practice of  ‘Y Tangnefeddwyr’, a difficult song to learn in Welsh, none were put off and all three stayed the course and are looking forward to next Thursday’s rehearsals.

Welcome all to the choir and we’re sure that you’ll have a long and happy time with us.

I said that finding second tenors was like finding hen’s teeth, I’m off around the local chicken coups to find some. Wish me luck.

Choir ranks swell with two new second tenors

On Monday September 4th 2017 the choir welcomed Ken Nurden to the Choir Hall who came along to listen to us.  Ken has been a frequent visitor to the Choir but on this visit he plucked up the courage and went into the back room, nervously like so many dozens of others to do his first voice test.  He came out smiling when Musical Director Siân announced that Ken is a second tenor!

On the following Thursday 7th September we had another visitor to the hall.  No stranger this since his son Sam is a baritone in the choir, Ron Atkins finally decided to join the choir.  Like Ken, recently before him he, with some trepidation went into the back room to do his first voice test and emerged to the announcement that he too is a second tenor.  You may often find Ron on Facebook where he is frequently filmed singing his own compositions while in the cab of his HGV (parked up). This is the second current father and son partnership in the choir, the other being top tenor Anthony Howells and his son baritone Craig Howells.

On a similar note we are probably the only Male Voice Choir to have four brothers simultaneously singing with us, Mark, John, Nigel and Nick Antell.  The latter three are all top tenors while Mark is a baritone.

Both Ken and Ron are very welcome additions to our choir since the second tenors have suffered recently in numbers due to chorister retirements and finding second tenors is like finding hen’s teeth. We are sure that both will enjoy a long and happy membership of our choir.

Choir sings at Roley Bennett’s Memorial Service


The Choir was saddened but proud and privileged to be part of the Memorial Service to tenor chorister Roley Bennett at the small, local St Stephen and St Tathan Church in Caerwent on Monday 4th September following his sudden death on August 7th reported earlier.

Following a summary of 68 year old Roley’s life, spent largely in the Caerwent and Llanmartin area and tributes by Rev. John Walters including references to his wife Hazel and much loved extended family, his career both as a carpenter and shepherd, his hobbies of piano accordian playing in the JJR trio, his love of cars and mechanics and of course his membership of Caldicot Male Voice Choir, the moving service progressed with a solo rendition of Finlandia by his daughter in law and a first reading from Wisdom of Solomon 3 1 -9.

Over forty choristers, conducted throughout by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by John Nicholson and Stephen Berry, made their first contribution with Gwahoddiad (Invitation) a traditional hymn sung by choirs at many funerals. A second reading by Rev. Waters of Revelation to St John 21, 1 -7 was followed with the communal singing of The Lord is My Shepherd (Crimond).

Moving and sad poetic memories were made by members of Roley’s family before the Choir sang one of Roley’s favourites, Eli Jenkins Prayer (Troyte’s chant) before more memories and tributes were made by family members before Prayers were offered by Rev. Waters..

Prior to the Congregation singing the well know hymn ‘Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer’ the choir movingly sang Malotte’s version of the Lord’s Prayer and following the Blessing and final prayers, closed the service with Verdi’s Slave song of the Nabucco, ‘Speed Your Journey’.

Fittingly to reflect Roley’s sense of fun and love of music the Recessional Music, played by Stephen Berry on the church organ was the well known Queen song ‘We are the Champions’.

The Choir’s thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to wife Hazel, Roley’s extended family and to all who loved such a gentle giant.  With his passing a light has gone out in many lives but endearing, treasured memories will live long in all who were privileged to know him. Rest in Peace, Roley.

Choir’s Birdie Boys have a great day at the St Pierre for Charity

It was another great day in glorious sunshine for Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s associated Golf Society, the Birdie Boys Charity Golf Event at the Marriott St. Pierre Old golf course on Saturday 2nd September. Well done to the Manor Parc for defending the overall trophy, hope to see you next year when you go for the hat-trick.

Thanks to everyone who once again took part in a fabulous annual event.  A significant amount of money was raised to help the Severn View Open Doors at Chepstow with their Sensory Garden project to help sufferers of dementia and related diseases.  The Choir hopes to raise enough for the project to build outbuildings such as a potting shed, tool shed and gazebo.

Special thanks must go to outgoing captain, Alyn Dawe for all the hard-work in organising the event; to all the sponsors including Likes Landrovers, JAGA Haulage, the Tredegar Arms, Shirenewton together with the numerous hole sponsors; to the guest teams that took part; to the helpers who took the money, Sharon Ward and Grahame Morton; to Lyn Gauntlett for producing the scorecards and a special welcome to chorister Maurice Penny who will be taking over as captain of the ‘Birdie Boys’ for the next year. We are sure he will be, like previous captains Alyn Dawe and David Gould a huge success. It was a delightful pleasure to welcome representatives from the Severn View Open Doors at the after-game meal and presentation of trpphies and awards to prize winning golfers.

The photo shows the Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s Birdie Boys, guest golfers and supporters in front of the choir’s gazebo.

Written by Tony Griffiths

Choir thrills audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe

Salvation Army Church,, Edinburgh
Allan Park South Church, Stirling

On the recent August Bank holiday about forty choristers, the musical team of Siân Hatton, Shirley- Anne James, Stephen Berry and John Nicholson and some thirty supporters of Caldicot Male Voice Choir took to the high and low roads to Scotland and all arrived together in Edinburgh for their short tour of the city and Stirling.

After a ten hour journey on Thursday 24th August the choir arrived at its hotel on the outskirts of Edinburgh and straightaway entertained a party of Brazilian visitors who were totally enthralled by the sound of a Welsh Male Voice Choir singing a selection of Welsh hymns and other songs in full volume.

The following day was without a concert and many of the party chose to visit the sights and sounds of Edinburgh Fringe festival and take in the multitude of tourist attractions in the City including The Royal Yacht Britannia. Princes Street and the Royal Mile.  The choir got together in the afternoon at the Standing Order pub in George Street to treat the diners and drinkers to a surprise round of impromptu singing before returning to the hotel.

Saturday saw the choir take to the roads again to travel to Stirling, home of the famous castle, city walls and statue to the memory of William Wallace.  After a morning’s sightseeing and lunch the choir assembled at the Allan Park South Church to give a concert to raise funds for the Church.  The audience was thrilled and surprised when the choir opened with Flower of Scotland and proceeded not only to treat the audience to a range of songs including Cwm Rhondda, The Lady is a Tramp, A Miner’s Song, Rachie, The Lord’s Prayer, Shenandoah and many others but were also delighted by the solo performances of tenor chorister Peter Hanks and musical director and soprano Siân Hatton. The choir departed to rapturous applause and standing ovation to make its way to the City Wall pub to again give the local residents a real taste of off the cuff male voice singing enjoyed by everyone including a few Welsh visitors to the town.

The highlight of the tour was to perform at the close of the Fringe at the Salvation Army Church in Edinburgh to a packed house of about 200.  The choir made its entrance to the sound of the Salvation Army brass band playing Men of Harlech to rapturous applause and again excited the audience with its opening of Flower of Scotland.  Included in the Choir’s performance of 15 songs were the favourites sung at Stirling including many sung in Welsh; Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn, Anfonaf Angel, Gwahoddiad, Rachie as well as popular Somewhere Out there, Let it be me, Mansions of the Lord, the delightful hymn He and somewhat incongruously Aus der Traube a German traditional drinking song.

The Choir and audience were also treated to items played by the Salvation Army Brass Band in two interludes and joined in with enthusiastic community singing with brass band accompaniment.  The Choir again received a standing ovation and rapturous applause with a demand to come back to Scotland to sing for them again.  Departing to the strains of ‘Ar Yyd y Nos’ played by the band, the choir made its way across the cobbled streets of Edinburgh to say farewell to the City at the Fringe Courtyard where it once again entertained the huge crowds waiting to see the Fringe performances.

Although short, this was a well received, successful tour where the choir proved itself to be worth ambassadors of Wales and Welsh Male Voice singing to audiences from around the World who had never experienced the like before


Long Standing Chorister, Roley Bennett Passes Away


We’ve just been informed of the sad death of chorister, top tenor Roland (Roley) Bennett who passed away yesterday afternoon after a long illness.

A reserved and seemingly shy man, Roley was nevertheless a very popular, long serving chorister, well remembered for his punctuality (or lack of), always coming into practice late to loud cheers, his dry sense of humour and his accomplished accordion playing with the JJR trio, not to mention his great contribution to the Choir as a top tenor.  I believe his last public appearance with the Choir was at the National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny in 2016. The photograph above was taken at a concert at Catbrook Memorial Hall in 2016.  A great character and a helpful friend to many, he will be sorely missed and the Choir’s thoughts and condolences go out to his family and all those proud to call him a friend and fellow chorister. RIP Roley.

Post Script:

Roley’s son, John has posted details on Facebook so I’ve copied them here;

Roland Bennett’s Thanksgiving service will be on Monday 4th September at 2-30pm. Caerwent Church, Pound Lane, NP26 5AY.  Dad never liked all black clothes so please can mourners wear something colourful . This will be a celebration of his life . As devastated as we still feel as a family his memory will always be with us. There will be a gathering afterwards at Caldicot Choir Hall, next to Caldicot Comprehensive school , Mill Lane, Caldicot NP26 5DD from 3pm till 6pm. Everyone is very welcome to come and join the many family and friends he has. Please bring any photos of Dad you have so we can put them on our memory board for everyone to see.

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