Caldicot Male Voice Choir is now after the pandemic restrictions have been eased, in a position to invite men over the age of 18 to join in a wonderful hobby by singing together with over 60 other choristers in the Choir.
In the next few weeks you may see this flyer appearing over the town. Please take the time to read it. Members of the Choir will also be making appearances at the special Saturday markets in the Town Centre when you will have the opportunity to talk to choristers about what it means to be in one of Wales’ leading Choirs, right on your doorstep.
Why not just pop along to the Choir Hall in Mill Lane on any Monday or Thursday evening from 7-00pm to see and hear us? Bring your wives or partners as well. They will be very welcome. The choir hopes to see you there.
The Choir was saddened last week 25th August 2021 to learn of the passing of retired chorister John Callow. John had been a long standing second tenor for over 25 years and was much liked and respected as a true gentleman. He was always among the first to welcome new choristers and help them to blend in with the choir with useful and relevant advice.
Notably for over 17 years, chorister John Callow had been diligently marking off on his little clipboard the attendance of every chorister at almost every practice and concert until he relinquished the role to Dai Gould in 2013 He has walked around the hall, sometimes despairingly but always hopeful, prior to every concert to determine which and how many choristers will be attending and whether or not they need the bus. He always, twice a year painstakingly produced a statistical summary of attendances showing the record of every chorister.
After over 1600 times, his town crier voice of ’55 here tonight!’ in every practice has been sorely missed (not always 55, sometimes more, sometimes less) because after all that time, John decided to put down the pen and clipboard for a well deserved rest. This unsung, but vital job carried out by John has ensured that choristers were aware of the need to attend practice and come to as many concerts as possible, large or small.
In recognition of his contribution to the Choir, John was also the first recipient of the newly introduced ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ and was conferred as an Honorary Vice President in 2013. He retired form the Choir in 2016. Well done, John for your valued contribution and membership of the Choir for so many years.
Condolences and sympathy go out from the Choir to his family and friends at this sad time. The Choir sang Gwahoddiad at practice on 26th August in remembrance of a much loved chorister.
During the pandemic lockdown, Caldicot Male Voice Choir remained busy by building a much needed extension to its Choir Hall in Mill Lane, Caldicot. Now it’s completed, it was pleased to welcome back Georgie Davies of Griffiths Civil Construction who generously provided the materials and labour to complete the groundworks, foundations and sub floor. This was a huge contribution without which the project couldn’t have started.
This extension now enables the hall to store it’s tables, including the circular tables to be used at weddings and its 200 chairs thus clearing the hall completely for other functions such as the Choir’s support for Blood donor sessions. The photographs show Georgie with Choir Chairman John Nicholson, Secretary Ken Cooper and Vice Chairman Leon Jones, the Choir’s project manager during the build.
Back Singing Together! Caldicot Male Voice Choir was delighted and thrilled to be able, with appropriate Covid-19 precautions in place to resume practices together after a 16 month absence.
Over 50 choristers assembled to sing pieces such as Rock a my Soul, Benedictus, Anfonaf Angel, Sixteen Tons, Calon Lan, Anfonaf Angel and Cwm Rhondda for the first time together for 16 months, led by the music team of Sian Hatton, Shirley Anne James, Stephen Berry and John Nicholson. The Choir also welcomed two new members Andrew Yearsley (Bass) and Bob Benjamin (Top tenor). Welcome both.
In a party but controlled atmosphere the Choir was presented with a celebratory cake baked by Colleen Gauntlett which was eagerly devoured by the choristers during a break in rehearsal. It was obvious from the choristers’ faces and smiles that it was a great thrill to be back singing together again.
The photograph shows left to right:
Karl Gregory, Gareth Thomas, Leon Jones, Ken Cooper, Colleen Gauntlett, Sian Hatton, Stephen Berry, John Nicholson and Shirley-Anne James.
Many thanks once again for the support of the South Wales Argus by publishing the article in Grassroots last Monday. This makes 21 published since the start of lockdown. It relates to the presentation at Caldicot Male Voice Choir of long service awards to Wyn Goodwin (25 years), Bill Nash (50 years) and Peter Heslop (50 years) by Musical Director Sian Hatton, John Griffiths SM and Jessica Morden MP.
Congratulations to Wyn, Bill and Peter for their continuous long, dedicated and loyal service to the Choir. Each was presented with a special, unique lapel badge and certificate.
It has been nearly 15 months since Caldicot Male Voice Choir has been allowed to sing as a whole but it was thrilled to be able to sing together on 28th June outside its Choir Hall in Caldicot.
It has been a tradition in the past 12 years to present long serving choristers with a unique commemorative badge and certificate to recognise the achievement of more than 25 or 50 years’ continuous service. Until yesterday there have been 36 recipients of the completion of 25 years and 3 recipients of 50 year awards.
It was with great delight that this list was added to with the presentation after much delay, of a 25 year award to bass chorister Wyn Goodwin and of 50 year awards to bass chorister Bill Nash and baritone Peter Heslop. The presentations were made by Jessica Morden MP, John Griffiths SM and Musical Director Siȃn Hatton. Also in attendance was long standing supporter and a Vice President, the Mayor of Caldicot, Jim Higginson. Chairman John Nicholson accomplished a magnificent job as Master of Ceremonies in difficult circumstances.
The presentations not only recognise the dedication and loyalty of recipients but also demonstrate that singing in a Choir is a wonderful hobby, learning new skills and sharing common experiences, memories and friendships that can last a lifetime.
Following the ceremonies about 45 choristers gathered together outside the hall and conducted by Siȃn Hatton and accompanied by Stephen Berry the assembled Choir presented the appreciative audience with ‘Cwm Rhondda’, ‘Ar Hyd y Nos’ and ‘African Prayer’.
All participants were then invited to partake of an outdoor complimentary drink to commemorate being able to meet up after so long. A wonderfully enjoyable evening and thank goodness the rain kept away, but it was a bit chilly.
John Griffiths MS said: “It was great to see the choir back together again and doing what they do best. It’s been a difficult time during the pandemic – but the return to practice is hopefully a sign of a return to some normality. Music brings communities together – and this is very much the case with the Caldicot Male Voice Choir whose melodies are a joy to behold.”
Jessica Morden MP said: “It was fantastic to hear the choir again. They were on fine form singing together outside the Choir Hall (the envy of many choirs in South Wales) for the first time in 16 months and honour the long service and commitment of choristers Bill, Peter and Wyn who combined are celebrating 125 years of singing with the choir.”
Very pleased that The South Wales Argus Grassroots section published my short article yesterday about Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s organised sponsored walk on June 12th from Chepstow Castle to Magor to raise funds for its nominated charity The Welsh Air Ambulance. Thanks to chorister Tony Griffiths for organising.
Caldicot Male Voice Choir is very grateful to the Argus for its support during these difficult times.
Although Covid-19 restrictions have been eased allowing Caldicot Male Voice Choir to begin limited practices in the Choir Hall, the choristers still cannot fully get back together again.
A major part of being a member of the choir is its social life so the Choir’s associated Golf society, ‘The Birdie Boys’, captained by chorister David Gould have been out and about playing golf this time to picturesque Wernddu Golf course. This 18-hole course near Abergavenny is framed by the nearby Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons and 11 choristers took advantage of a gloriously sunny June 5th June to compete in a Texas Scramble tournament amongst themselves.
The winners of a friendly, enjoyable tournament were a team consisting of choristers Tony Griffiths, David Hennesey, Steve Davies and guest player Andy Yearsley. The ‘Nearest the pin’ prize was won by Tony Griffiths.
Other choristers taking part were organiser David Gould, Leon Jones, John Nicholson, Maurice Penny, Andy McDonnell, Ron Powell and guest Carl Powell.
As well as providing a chance for choristers to get together, ‘The Birdie Boys’ also play to raise money for local and National Charities. This year they are hosting a tournament at the Llanwern Golf club to raise funds for the Welsh Air Ambulance.
Near the Leisure Centre in Caldicot, there proudly stands a unique red brick building where, above its doorway is emblazoned the badge of Cor Meibion Caldicot and the words Choir Hall, Croeso, Welcome. Few who enter this incredible, purpose designed hall will realise the dreams and efforts of those who in 1996, 25 years ago made this unique building the home of Caldicot Male Voice Choir.
The dream was held for 28 years while a suitable plot of land should become available but it remained elusive for many years. Meanwhile practices like so many other choirs, carried on in local school halls, in particular Green Lane School.Finally land adjacent to the Leisure centre was found and the lease signed in April 1992.
A period of four years of intensive fund raising began and with the help of substantial grants from the Foundation of Sport and Arts and the National Lottery, sufficient funds were in place by September 1995.
Many hours were also spent with Community Design Gwent and Sarah James, the architect before the plans and design were eventually approved by Monmouthshire County Council. The final contract to build was awarded to Messrs. White Brothers and Speed of Newport and the first turf was dug on January 16th 1996 in heavy snow.
Many were involved in realising the dream but special mention must be made, not least of Secretary Islwyn Watkins, Treasurer Mervyn Roberts and President Richard Evans. The hall was finally opened during a weekend of celebration from 20th to 22nd September 1996 by Dr Terry James culminating in a Four Choir Concert on the Sunday including not only Caldicot, but choirs from Risca, Cwmbran and Blaenavon.
The hall has seen many changes in the last 25 years including two extensions and a mezzanine floor to hold office space and the library due largely to the efforts of chorister Leon Jones. It has its own fully licenced bar and state of the art sound and projection systems.
With a seating capacity of up to 200 people, it is open by arrangement to benefit the local community for not least wedding suppers, charity events and concerts, live TV showings of Wales Rugby matches, social events and corporate business events and has recently hosted the working of charities such as The Welsh Blood Transfusion Service, Mind and Caldicot Food Bank.
There is no doubt that the building of the Choir Hall in Caldicot after so many years of dreaming, planning and construction has furthered the culture of Welsh Male Choral singing and has provided an essential asset to the Caldicot Community.
The Choir looks forward to the ending of Covid-19 restrictions so that it and the local community can once again enjoy the marvellous building that is Caldicot Choir Hall.
Welsh Blood Donor sessions will take place at the Caldicot Choir Hall in Mill Lane, Caldicot on April 7th and 8th. The posters show it all but you can book directly by a click on this link. Alternatively copy and paste onto your web browser address bar. https://wbs.wales/ChoirHall04 If you can’t make the date at Caldicot check out the other locations and dates on the same link.