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Not all Choristers are grey haired, elderly Gentlemen

ANNUAL CONCERT 2019

It was reported in January that an active member of Caldicot Male Voice Choir, Bill Nash had remarkably reached his 98th birthday. Since then two members, Dave Kirton and Peter Hanks celebrated their 78th birthdays on the same day January 16th.

To many this would seem to perpetuate the myth that being in a Male Voice Choir is a pastime dedicated solely for grey haired, elderly gentlemen.  What is forgotten is that Bill joined his first Male Voice Choir at the age of 14 and that Dave, like so many of the Choir members joined the Choir over 30 years ago when they were in their forties or even younger.  In common with Bill Nash, current active choristers John Evans, Peter Heslop and Dave Gould have each completed over 50 years’ service and joined when they were in their twenties. Current vice chairman, Leon Jones joined 3 months before his 18th birthday and has completed over forty three years’ service.  Baritone Liam Evans at 25 and Craig Howells, also 25 are the Choir’s youngest. Craig joined in 2013 at 18 years of age and proudly followed his grandfather Owen and father Anthony into the Choir.

To further dispel the myth, in common with most Male choirs, Caldicot has a high proportion of choristers who are less than forty years old and some who are less than 30.  The Choir presents those who have served more than 25 years with a certificate and silver badge when they achieve this milestone. To date, and since the Choir was formed in 1963 there have been 37 recipients although sadly some are no longer with us.

Caldicot Male Voice Choir is not alone in being hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and has not been able to meet since it returned from its tour of Armagh in March 2020. This sensible approach has been taken to protect vulnerable members of the Choir from the effects of the virus and fortunately only a few caught the virus and these are on the way to a full recovery (there has been at least one case of hospitalisation reported in December).

The latest news is that most of the over seventies and many of the over sixties have now had either the Pfizer or Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine with almost no side effects apart from a temporary stiff arm  However, most had the injection in their non-drinking arm so their lives were not affected too much.

However, loneliness, depression and a sense of loss has hit a number of choristers who are dreadfully missing the comradeship of being in a Choir and it is hoped that when the vast majority have had the vaccine it will be able to meet again shortly and begin to sing not only in unison but in restored harmony.

The Choir would urge all of you, when invited to take up the vaccination to help save yours and others lives and bring an early end to this terrible situation.

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Choir Hall visited by local Member of Parliament

Caldicot Male Voice Choir is supporting the Caldicot Food Bank by providing the Choir Hall in Mill Lane as a warehouse and distribution centre. This valuable service, providing hundreds of food parcels and Christmas Gifts to the local community in these difficult times was visited on 11th December by Newport East Member of Parliament Jessica Morden MP who praised the efforts of the dozens of volunteers, sponsors and supporters of the Food Bank. You can see from the photos how much work is going into this.

A long standing and loyal supporter of the Choir, Jessica also took the opportunity for a sneak preview of the extension to the Choir Hall which is nearing completion. She also had a chat with vice chairman Leon Jones who has been mainly responsible for getting this project to its current position. Jessica is quoted as saying ‘ I am very much looking forward to seeing you all when we can! It looks great (the Choir Hall) and it’s wonderful that you are hosting the food bank’.

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Huge Progress on Choir Hall Extension


After intensive work by volunteers and others the extension is nearing completion. The roof is on, tiled and insulated. Ceilings have been installed and plastered by choristers Paul Thomas and Gary Smith and it’s just waiting for electrics to be installed, painting to be done and the frames and doors to be installed.
Following an appeal by chorister and project leader Leon Jones for funding to finally finish the project, an amazing £500 approximately has been pledged or donated by members of the choir. This shows amazing support for the Choir while it is unable to perform or practice during the pandemic restrictions.
If you would like to part of this wonderful group of people please contact us through Facebook, the web site or speak to someone you know is in the Choir. You will be made very welcome as soon as we get back together again.

Roof is on
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Choir Hall Kitchen gets total refit during lock down

One of the few benefits of the shutdown at the Choir Hall is that a long awaited major upgrade of the kitchen facilities could be accomplished.
The Choir was fortunate in that a few days before the lockdown, Howden’s Kitchens of Chepstow donated sufficient cupboards and fittings to completely refurbish the out of date and worn out kitchen as part of its charitable service contribution to the local community.


However, lock down and social isolation due to Covid 19 came into force before work could be started. Fortunately chorister Leon Jones stepped in and volunteered to isolate himself at the hall, firstly to strip out the old kitchen, arrange for a new floor and final fitting as well as disposal of the waste.


With further contributions from Rhys Maidment of Klassic Floors and carpenter Andrew Little a new floor was laid and the units fitted.
The finishing touches, including complete tiling of the kitchen and plumbing in the services was then done by Leon himself, again isolating himself at the hall. The skip to dispose of the waste was donated by choir vice president Irwyn Williams of Woodstock Skip Hire. The paint was obtained from B & Q Newport.

A fabulous job done by all in very difficult isolation circumstances and the Choir members are extremely grateful for all who contributed materials, time and labour.

The final photos were taken by Leon who is quoted as saying ‘it was one way of dealing with the lock down’.

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American Choir Honours Bill Nash

Bill with his family at his birthday. Plaque superimposed

Last January saw the celebration of the 97th birthday at the Choir Hall of probably the oldest and longest serving male chorister in the Country; Bill Nash who has been singing in choirs for over 80 years, even during his wartime service in the Royal Air Force.


Instigated by the Welsh Association of Male Choirs after seeing the report on Facebook, Caldicot Male Voice Choir was delighted soon after to receive a parcel from Wilbur McCormick of the D L Davis Male Voice Choir in Jackson, Ohio, USA. The parcel contained a Choir polo shirt, a commemorative plaque and a letter endorsing BIll as an Honorary Life Member of this prestigious Choir.


The beautifully made plaque mounted on oak reads:
‘In Recognition of his 80 Years of Service to the World of Music
BILL NASH is Awarded a Lifetime Honorary Membership by the D.M. DAVIS MALE VOICE CHOIR of Jackson Ohio, USA January 9, 2020′.


This is a rare honour, richly deserved by Bill. This accolade was due to be presented to Bill at the Annual Concert this year, but unfortunately the event was cancelled, Since we do not know when the Choir can meet again it was decided that now is the right time to make this award public.
Bill is at home in Bristol, is well and still learning his music. He has been aware of the award for some time and he and his family are thrilled and delighted that his long continuous service to male voice singing has been honoured in this way.


Many thanks to Wilbur McCormick and all at the D.M. Davis Male Voice Choir for this wonderful tribute. Hopefully we will be able to make the presentation to Bill personally soon.

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David Gould’s record of events in Armagh

Photo by Paul Williams

Dave Gould was good enough to write a report of Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s trip to Armagh. This post is slightly edited to allow press reports but I’m sure Dave will forgive me. I’ve put up Paul Williams photo again until I’ve had chance to collate more by choristers. Bear with me.


CALDICOT CHOIR IN ARMAGH FOR ST. PATRICK FESTIVAL


In the freezing conditions of a 5-30am boarding of the bus on Friday 6th March, Caldicot Male Voice Choir departed the sleeping town to begin the journey to Armagh in Northern Island, After more than 6 hours travelling from Bristol airport, the Choir arrived at Aonach Myacha Irish Cultural and Language centre to take part in the opening celebrations of the new centre, built around the steel shell of the old fire station.


Scheduled to sing a few numbers at 2-30pm to entertain the crowds and dignitaries, unfortunately there were so many participants that it wasn’t until 3-30pm that the Choir was able to sing two pieces, ‘Rachie’ conducted by Sian Hatton and ‘Calon Lan’ conducted by Shirley Anne James, both accompanied by John Nicholson. This short performance was broadcast live by RTE Radio.


Following the settling in at the Clayton Hotel for its two night stay, the choristers made their way for an evening of refreshment and on request a lot of singing at the popular Kelly’s Cellar, only stopping to give other acts a chance.


The following morning many choristers took on a bus top sight seeing tour before moving on to the spectacular Armagh Cathedral in preparation for its evening performance. This took the form of joining in with some 30 choral and individual musicians and singers to pay tribute to the achievements of St Patrick. Caldicot, as the only Male Voice Choir performed its two pieces, ‘Anfonal Angel’ and ‘Benedictus’ under the superb echoing acoustics of the marbled setting of the incredible Cathedral. The Festival will be televised in Ireland by RTE on March 17th.


Arriving at the hotel after midnight, the lateness of the hour did not prevent the choir enjoying an afterglow singing until past 3am.


The final day the Choir, before returning home spent the afternoon at the spectacular Titanic Museum which gave the opportunity for much reflection on this tragic event.


Finally the Choir arrived back in Caldicot in the early hours of Monday morning, exhausted but knowing that it had 19 hours to go before its next practice.

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Choir sings for Magor Church in Wales Primary School

Photograph by Colleen Gauntlett with kind permission of the School

Once again Caldicot Male Voice Choir supported a local school at its St David’s Day celebration. This time, invited by headmistress Suzanne Hamer, on March 2nd some thirty odd choristers and the musical team of conductor Shirley Anne James, accompanists Stephen Berry and John Nicholson went along to Magor Church in Wales Volunteer Aided Primary School.


In front of over 100 well behaved and attentive children the choir, all wearing traditional daffodils and compered by Shirley Anne, opened with resounding ‘Rachie’ guaranteed to have the children sitting bolt upright in attention. Followed by Welsh folk song ‘Bugeili’or Gwenith Gwyn’, the children were treated to a solo performance by Peter Hanks of ‘My Little Welsh Home’ before answering a barrage of questions about the Choir: Who’s the oldest? Who’s the youngest? What’s your favourite song? How long have you been singing? How many in the Choir? and many more.
Finalising with favourite Calon Lan with David Gould singing the solo second verse, the whole school then stood to join in with the Choir to sing the Welsh National Anthem, Hen Wlad fy Nhadau.


On Friday the Choir will be travelling to Northern Ireland to firstly sing on Friday 6th March at the opening of the Irish Cultural Centre in Armagh to be followed on Saturday by singing at a Festival in Armagh’s St Patrick’s Cathedral to commemorate the life of St Patrick. This will be broadcast live throughout the world on March 17th. Before returning on Sunday 7th March, the choir will visit and sing at the Titanic Museum in Belfast. Should be an interesting weekend.

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Incredible Chorister Bill Nash celebrates his 97th Birthday

On Thursday 9th January, Caldicot Male Voice Choir wished its oldest chorister a happy birthday by giving him a standing ovation and enthusiastically singing the tune ‘Happy Birthday’ to Bottom Bass Bill Nash followed by ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow’. He was also presented with a special card signed by all present as a mark of the true affection and respect felt by all members of the choir.

The evening was attended by his son Andrew and daughters Anne and Sharon. Unfortunately his other two daughters, Jane and Ellen were unable to attend but sent their very best wishes. All were thrilled and delighted with the Choir’s genuine adulation of their father.


Bill’s celebration of his 97th birthday on Thursday surely must make him the oldest male voice chorister in Wales, if not the U.K. still actively and regularly singing. Tributes have been pouring in including from the USA and mentions have been made on BBC Radio Wales.


One of the many highlights of his almost 50 years in Caldicot Male Voice Choir 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 in May 2018.


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, at the age of 14 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 over 80 years of male choral singing, sung in every section of a male voice choir. An incredible, probably unequalled record.


Bill was 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 the Annual Concert in April 2014.


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.

I would be interested to learn of any chorister who is of Bill’s age or older who is still active as a singer in any Welsh Male Voice Choir

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Choir Entertains the Residents of Cherry Trees

On Thursday 19th December, Caldicot Male Voice Choir was delighted to make its Annual visit to the Cherry Trees Nursing Home in Caldicot to entertain the residents with a bright selection of Christmas Carols.

Dressed in their colourful Christmas costumes, the Choir, conducted by Sian Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by John NIcholson invited the audience to join in a medley of Carols including ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, ‘Hark the Herald Angels SIng’ and ‘Away in a Manger’ before presenting the choir favourites ‘Silver Bells, ‘Casatschok’ with its loud ending, ‘Shepherds watch and Wise Men Wonder’ to the tune ‘Scarlet Ribbons’, ‘Joy to the World’ before rounding rounding off with a Christmas Medley including ‘Sleigh Bells Ringing’, ‘A Child is a King’ and of course ‘Jingle Bells’. The staff of Cherry trees then provided the choristers to a welcome feast of mince pies, cup cakes and drinks, thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by the choristers.

The Choir then departed to local hostelry, The Haywain to entertain the patrons with another rousing round of carol singing before enjoying a feast of Christmas Fayre and other traditional refreshments provided by the publicans.

This is my final post about the Choir’s activities over the Christmas period so may I wish you, on behalf of Caldicot Male Voice Choir a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.


Photos by Colleen Gauntlett


If after reading these you would consider taking up a new hobby in the New Year, why not come along to one of the Choir’s practice nights in Mill Lane on a Monday or Thursday evening from 7pm to see and hear us? You would be made very welcome. There is no commitment.

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Choir Joins with Undy Primary School for Carol Concert

On Monday 16th December Caldicot Male Voice Choir was delighted to welcome Undy Primary School children to join it for an Annual Christmas concert with a local School.


The Choir is always delighted to annually welcome a local School to the Choir Hall to join in a fun filled joint concert


Conducted by Sian Hatton and Shirley-Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson, the concert opened with the Choir singing ‘Christmas Time Again is Here’ to the tune of ‘Llanfair’ and ‘Shepherds Watch and Wise Men Wonder’ to the tune ‘Scarlet Ribbons’.
The school choir, conducted by Sophie Skellorn and Charlotte Skinner then entertained the audience of proud parents, grandparents and friends to a wide range of Christmas songs including ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer’ and ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ before the Choir returned to sing ‘God Rest You Merry Gentlemen’ and ‘Mary’s Boy Child’. A section of the Choir then sang the duet made famous by Bing Crosby and David Bowie ‘Peace on Earth and Little Drummer Boy’ combination.


The children returned in part two to entertain us with delightful versions of ‘Winter Wonder Land’, ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ and ‘Rocking Around the Christmas Tree’. Many pieces sung by the children included lively dance routines to the envy of many in Caldicot choir.


Then came the surprise of the night when Santa made a surprise visit, much to the delight and joy of the children to join in as a guest singer for Caldicot’s final performance which included ‘Joy to the World’, ‘Casatschok’, ‘Silver Bells’ and finally a Christmas Medley including Jingle Bells when the children were thrilled to be invited on stage to sing with the Choir.


A lovely evening enjoyed by all and the Choir is sure to repeat with another local school next year.


Photographs were taken by Colleen Gauntlett with the School’s permission to use the group photographs.

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