Just before the final act of the 2012/13 session, the AGM, a party of 64 Ballyclare Male Choir members and their friends enjoyed a busy weekend in Tenby, Pembrokeshire hosted by Tenby Male Choir.
It was an exciting trip for choir secretary Dick Grey, as Tenby is where he was born. It was an emotional occasion for him when the choir held an informal singing engagement in St David’s Cathedral where his late father had been a Canon. The other highlights of the weekend were a visit to Pembroke Castle and a joint concert with the local male choir in St Mary’s Church and the ‘afterglow’ reception in the Tenby choir club premises.
The AGM was an occasion to reflect on what had been a session of major change for the choir. Last October the choir appointed Paul Briggs and Sheelagh Greer as its conductor and accompanist. This brought a new dynamic to the choir with the introduction of new choral pieces which even had the members singing in Hebrew (Hava Nagila) and having to master a Tom Jones medley. At the annual concert in March the special guests were Paul’s other choir, Bangor Ladies.
The AGM also saw two significant changes in the choir committee with Eric Boyd stepping down as Chairman and Colin Campbell being elected to the office, supported by Leslie Simms as his deputy. Eric’s last act was to present cheques for £600 to each of the representatives of his nominated charities - Peter McCabe from the NI Children’s Hospice and Michael Holmes from the Stand By Me children’s charity. The money was donated at each weekly practice by the choir members, and thanking them, Peter and Michael explained how the money will be used by their organisations.
The new Chairman will lead a small sub-committee with responsibility for arranging the special events to take place during the next session, which happens to be the 80th anniversary year of the formation of the choir.
The choir is fortunate in still having a surviving founder member. Sam Stewart was just 19 when he joined the choir in September 1933 and he went on to serve the choir in many capacities and is its only honorary life member.
Sam, who lives in Groomsport with his daughter Maureen, will celebrate his 100th birthday on June 21 and they will be joined on the day by a select group from the choir.