Photograph and post by Lyn Gauntlett
Photograph and post by Lyn Gauntlett
It was with great delight and pleasure that on Monday 7th January the choir was able, once again to wish its oldest chorister a forthcoming happy birthday by enthusiastically singing the tune ‘Happy Birthday’ to Bill Nash.
Bill will be celebrating his unbelievable 96th birthday on Wednesday 9th January which surely must make him the oldest male voice chorister in Wales still actively and regularly singing. A highlight of his year was to be presented to HRH Prince Charles when the choir was honoured to sing at the Prince’s celebration of his 70th birthday at Buckingham Palace last May.
Bottom bass Bill makes the journey to practice from the centre of Bristol to Caldicot twice a week aided by his family and is still able to make it to many of our concerts.
Bill was born in Llanharan in 1923 to later sing with his father and brothers in Llanharan Male Voice Choir and attend Cowbridge Grammar School from where he left at 16 years old to serve in the RAF before and during the second World War as an aircraft fitter. He served in North Africa, Italy, South Africa and other countries before moving to Gloucester after the war and then to Bristol in 1952 to work many years for the British Aircraft Corporation and where he has lived since. He sang in Redland Male Choir in Bristol for many years before joining Caldicot Male Voice Choir in 1970.
He has, in his long history of about 80 years of male choral singing, sung in every section of a male voice choir. An incredible, probably unequalled record.
Bill has an incredible knowledge and expertise as a chorister and is always willing to pass on his experiences to younger and new members of the choir, not to mention our musical team.
The top photograph shows Bill with his daughter Sharon (his other children being Andrew, Jane, Ellen and Anne) at Buckingham Palace and the lower shows him being presented with a well deserved Lifetime Achievement award and conferred as an Honorary Vice President of Caldicot Male Voice Choir at a special presentation by John Griffiths AM and Musical Director Siân Hatton at our Annual Concert in April 2014.
Many happy returns and best wishes for a happy birthday and celebration on Wednesday, Bill.
Coincidentally Bill shares his birthday with fellow chorister second tenor Mike Thurman who is a comparative youngster at 71 who was also congratulated at practice. Many happy returns to both.
Footnote. Roy Noble paid a tribute to Bill on his BBC Radio Wales show on Sunday 20th January 2019 and played Alexander’s Ragtime band sung by the choir. Reports were also published in the South Wales Argus and the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review.
Photos by Colleen Gauntlett
To open its busy festive season. Caldicot Male Voice Choir invited the children of Dewstow Infants School to join in some festive fun and carol singing at the choir hall on December 11th. The small choir of about twenty girls and one boy entertained the choir and the audience with three festive songs; ‘Midnight’, a swinging, foot tapping ‘Christmas calypso’ and and a body swinging ‘Gospel rap’ which brought a huge round of applause. Full credit to the school choir because under the tuition and guidance of their teacher, Kerry McDonald they had only three weeks in which to practice
The children were amazed, delighted and thrilled when Santa Claus paid a surprise visit to hear them singing and later join the choir in the bass section.
Conducted by Shirley Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson the choir presented a wide range of Christmas songs including Silver Bells, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, White Christmas, a Christmas Medley including Jingle Bells which had the children singing along, a calypso version of Mary’s Boy Child bringing back memories of UB40 and finalising with the humorous parody of The Carol Singers describing how a group of carollers being arrested by P.C. Bob Bates for raucous, dreadful carol singing.
Photo by Colleen Gauntlett
Described in the poem ‘Usk’ by T.S. Eliot, the 15th century, family run White Hart Village Inn in Llangybi once owned by Henry VIII and part of his dowry to Jane Seymour, has in its long history echoed to the sound of the chants of Cistercian Monks and to the tramp of Cromwellian army boots. Nothing however has compared to the sounds of Caldicot Male Voice Choir when it turned up to entertain the patrons and diners with its Christmas carolling on December 14th.
Standing with their backs to an ancient 15th century fireplace, complete with a Priest hole the choir, accompanied and directed by Stephen Berry, entertained with a collection of songs and Carols recently performed at its concert with a local Caldicot school. The programme included ‘Christmas Time Again is Here’ sung to the rousing hymn tune ‘Llanfair’, the Christmas hit ‘Silver Bells’ sung by so many including Bing Crosby, Matt Monroe and Perry Como, the ancient carol, ‘God Rest You Merry Gentlemen’, the Russian drinking and dance song ‘Casatschok’, a Christmas medley which included ‘Have yourself a Merry little Christmas, ‘A Child is a King’, ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Joy to the World’, ‘White Christmas’, a calypso version of ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ and ‘Shepherds Watch and Wise Men Wonder’ sung to the familiar tune ‘Scarlet Ribbons’.
This was followed by a range of community carol singing, enthusiastically joined in by regular patrons and visitors alike, The singing included seasonal favourites ‘O Come all ye faithful’, ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, ‘The First Nowell’, ‘Good King Wenceslas’ and ‘Silent Night’ in which Zaki delightfully and confidently sang the first verse.
During the break in performances the choir was treated to a fabulous feast of festive refreshments provided by the proprietor, Khaled Shalaby. Many thanks for inviting us and looking after us so well.
The evening was rounded off until the arrival of the bus with a session of ‘Afterglow’ singing thoroughly enjoyed by all of the late night diners and village regulars.
Photos by Colleen Gauntlett. Left click on an image to enlarge
A change to normal practice last night (Monday 19th November) when Caldicot Male Voice Choir invited its vice president supporters to a cheese and wine party at the Choir Hall. They were treated to a short video and slideshow presentation of the choir’s activities over the past few years followed by a concert including a selection of Christmas songs conducted by Sian Hatton, Shirley Anne James and accompanied by chairman John Nicholson (who arranged the evening) and Stephen Berry.
The vice-presidents are non-singing active supporters of the choir who apart from an annual financial contribution support the choir’s activities throughout the year and often provide valuable advice and expertise. The evening was arranged in appreciation of their continuing support and encouragement.
During the evening, much to his surprise and delight, long-standing but now retired chorister Larry Lynch was, accompanied by extended applause from everyone at the hall, presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award and was conferred as an Honorary Vice President in recognition not only of his long service as a dedicated chorister but for his invaluable contribution over nearly forty years. Larry was not only a past committee member but toured on several occasions to America, Europe, throughout the UK and on two cruise ships. The award was jointly presented by President Richard Evans, chairman John Nicholson and Musical Director Sian Hatton. To quote Larry, ‘I never in the world expected this. This is a totally unexpected surprise award and the certificate will take pride of place alongside my 25-year long service award.’
A great Quiz night at Caldicot Choir Hall on 16th November organised by Jayne and Robert Stallard. Lots of questions to stump the 80 odd participants with music and general knowledge questions from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Not to mention the Baby Quiz to identify choristers from their baby photos set up by Darren Lloyd and Tony Griffiths.
£230 was raised for the choir including the raffle and Paul Carlson’s team won the £30 prize. We’re also grateful to an unknown lady all the way from Cornwall who bought the quiz questions for £15. Many thanks. This is now turning into an Annual event to raise funds for Caldicot Male Voice Choir to help it continue to carry out its concert performances and charity appeals. Many thanks to all who turned up to support it as well as the bar staff of David Kirton, Chris Nolan and Paul Thomas and to the choristers who helped set up the hall and clean up afterwards.
Photographs were taken by Colleen Gauntlett.
Based on an initiative and idea in 2014 by Jayne Stallard, wife of Rogiet Community Council Chairman, Rob Stallard the building of an exquisite and poignant new War Memorial was completed at the Recreational Field in Rogiet in October 2018 to replace the previous wooden memorial which was seriously deteriorating. With an assembly of many of the local residents, a short Act of Remembrance and Dedication service was conducted by the Rev. Glyndwr Hackett in which Caldicot Male Voice Choir, conducted by Shirley Anne James and accompanied by John Nicholson was proud to sing ‘Mansions of the Lord’ from the film ‘We Were Soldiers’. The service included the playing of ‘The Last Post’, a reading by local schoolgirl Teya Andrews and concluded with a singing of the immortal hymn, ‘O God, our help in ages past’ accompanied by Choir accompanist Stephen Berry.
Consisting of two memorial benches, sandstone planters and the central plinth, the small memorial garden was designed by Rogiet Primary pupil Teya Andrews and consists of a stone plinth topped with a tiled mosaic made by Felicity Ball bearing the words ‘They once Saved Us, so let’s remember them! One more salute!’.
Following the service, welcome, warming refreshments were provided for everyone at the Rogiet Village Hall where a display of all the Rogiet Primary school pupil designs for the memorial were displayed around the walls.
While Caldicot Male Voice Choir raises thousands of pounds for local and National charities, it is also proud of individual members who undertake challenges to help charities under their own initiative. On 22nd October one of our youngest choristers, 25-year-old baritone chorister, Craig Howells and his friend Darren O’Sullivan began a four-day walk, starting at Hay on Wye to follow the River Wye to Caldicot. The walk of over 80 miles, taking four days, was undertaken to raise funds for and awareness of the National Autistic Society.
Sponsored by his brother Alyn and father Tony (who is also a chorister in the choir as was his late grandfather Owen), Caldicot Football club, Likes Land Rover, Tata Steel, Caldicot Male Voice Choir and the Castle Inn and many others, they started at Hay on Wye and spending nights in Hereford, where they were sheltered by Hereford Rowing Club and on to Ross on Wye where the White Hart provided free accommodation and breakfast, on to Monmouth, camping out in their tent for the final night and finishing at the Castle Inn in Caldicot who gave a massive welcome home and support.
Craig and Darren have so far raised over 1500 pounds for the National Autistic Society with money still rolling in. If you would like to donate, go to Craig and Darren’s Just Giving page.