2008 Archive

On a recent visit to France this photograph was taken of Graham Evans, Stan Isaacs and Gerry Hopkins. These three stalwarts are the only members left who joined the choir when it was originally formed in 1969. They have now been made life members. All three have at various times served on the choirs' committee and at the time of writing Graham is treasurer and Gerry stage manager.

Graham, Gerry and Stan

Posted 6th December 2008

GWENT POLICE CHOIR 39th ANNUAL CONCERT ST JULIANS METHODIST CHURCH NEWPORT 15th NOVEMBER 2008

Once again the choir sang to a capacity audience, all tickets had been sold well in advance of the event. And what an event it was! Fresh from their brief visit to Normandy two weeks beforehand the ‘lads’ were joined by the St Piran Singers, a ladies choir from Cornwall.

We had the privilege of welcoming the Deputy Mayor of Newport Councillor Mark Whitcutt and his wife also the Deputy Chief Constable along with her husband and Councillor Barbara Ryan of Torfaen.

Joined by five of their new ‘recruits and under the guiding hand of musical director Rodger Appleby, the choir launched into their first group of songs, starting with African Prayer, then Bring Him Home (Les Miserables) and Gwahoddiad – a Welsh hymn which translates as ‘welcome’.

The ladies, under the direction of Danny Gill and musical accompanist Liz Sidebotham, began their program with Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen) then the gentle song Somewhere Out There and concluded with Cornwall (my Anthem) which was composed by Liz herself. Back to the men for – An American Trilogy, My Lord What a Mornin’ and Nirvana. This last song was new to their repertoire and the first time the choir had sung it in concert. To conclude the first half, the ladies sang an old Andrews sisters song Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy with great gusto, followed by Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, then returned to the sixties with California Dreaming and The Wonder of You.

The men began the second half in stirring fashion with the Toreador’s Song from Carmen, followed with a bright spiritual Every Time I Feel the Spirit. Then Rodger slipped in a little ‘extra’, which the audience thoroughly enjoyed. He introduced everyone to a little song called ‘Above my head there is music in the air’. In no time the audience enthusiastically singing along choosing various different parts he taught to them. To conclude this group the choir sang All for the Best (Godspell) a duet between Jesus and Judas each putting his own view that – everything in life is all for the best! Congratulations must go to the dexterity of their extremely talented accompanist Nicola Coker in this number.

The ladies then took to the stage for their final group of songs beginning with a saucy version of Big Spender followed by a haunting The Rose. A change of mood brought us to You Raise me Up and a stirring rendition of Barcelona, which brought them a well deserved standing ovation.

Mike Gough who had compared with his witty jokes, introduced the choir’s final selection by reminding us that Remembrance Day had only recently passed and that the first song Comrades in Arms was a tribute to those who had given their lives for our liberty. To mark the occasion every chorister wore a red poppy. Comrades was followed by Nessun Dorma and finally the stirring Welsh hymn Cwn Rhondda, bringing the audience to their feet for a standing ovation.

The two final items of the evening brought the two choirs and audience together for the Cornish anthem Trelawney and of course our own Welsh National Anthem.

For the choirs the evening continued at the Commodore Hotel in Cwmbran where a delicious hot meal had been prepared and during the ‘afterglow’ both choirs entertained the guests with one or more of their songs all unaccompanied.

Submitted by Ann Sykes, posted 5th December 2008

CHOIR TRIP TO FRANCE 29th OCTOBER- 2nd NOVEMBER 2008

If anyone was in doubt as to the eventual destination of the choir one only needed to look at the chairman, suitably garbed in black beret and the obligatory string of onions around his neck. With a starting time of 3.00 am (for some) one can be forgiven for the silence of the members, but everyone was awake and (sort of!) bright eyed and bushy tailed by the time we caught the 9.00 am ferry. After a smooth crossing, we resumed our coaches once again and were off to St Lo where we stayed for the next four nights.

Two concerts had been arranged for the choir – the first in the town of Percy in a beautiful church with glorious acoustics, and the other in the Leisure Centre ) Fetes de Salles) in Marigny.

We were very pleased to have Rhys Mathews (son of Nicola, our accompanist) as our guest artist, and he proved his versatility and expertise on various drums and the xylophone and quite rightly, he received a standing ovation for his wonderful performance.

During the time we were there Eric Hillman, who has lived in Normandy for some 16 years and is the choir’s link with that part of France, arranged various outings for us, including a trip to the miniature railway museum in Clecy, a beautiful lunch and also a trip to a Normandy farm museum.

We wish we could have said the weather was good, but it rained most of the time, and on one occasion we actually had snow! We also had a trip to one of the local hypermarkets where we (the ladies, of course!) did some shopping. But the atmosphere and the spirits were more than a match for the weather, and we enjoyed a couple of sing-songs in the hotel after the concert.

The last sing-song by six of the ladies, who shall be nameless, but calling themselves the Gwent Police Choir Groupies entertained with a ditty composed by Jean and Pam sung to the tune of The Happy Wanderer, bringing in the names of many members.

View Normandy Pictures Click Here

Submitted by Ann Sykes, posted 5th December 2008

CONCERT AT RISCA PRIMARY SCHOOL 16th October

This joint concert was held with the Rogestone Band in aid of the LMBBS – to give the charity its full name, The Laurence-Mon-Bardet-Biedl Society, a syndrome which has devastating effects on children with less than 400 suffers in the UK. It is a society which received no Government funding and therefore relies totally on charity donations. Phil Humphreys, Chairman of the Police Choir, is also Chairman of the LMBBS Society, and in his twin roles was able to arrange this concert – the second time the Choir have given a concert in aid of this particular charity.

The choir began as usual in stirring form with An African Prayer, Bring him Home and Gwahoddiad. The band under the conductorship of James Jones began their first set with Star Lake, a stirring melody from the repertoire of the Salvation Army Band, following this with Rodrigo’s Adagio Concerto de Aranjuez with soloist Rhys Ward. They concluded with the well-known song from ‘Cats’ – Memory.

The choir then took over for their second set, singing the Gershwin Melody, A tribute to Mr Curwen (with explanations!) and Every Time I feel the Spirit. This was followed by the bands second set consisting of Demelza with soloist Tudor Davies and two well known songs from Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.

After a brief interval the band opened the second half with Amporica Rock, followed by a lovely quartet: Rhys Ward, Lara Jones, Ben Roberts and Kate Blakemore playing a haunting setting of the old Irish Blessing, the words of which begin – ‘May the road rise to meet you…’ They followed this with the song Love Changes Everything.

Then it was the turn of the choir once again who delighted the audience with An American Trilogy, My Lord what a Mornin’ and The Toreador’s song.

For their last set the band chose the song sold ‘He Ain’t Heavy, he’s my brother’ with soloist Lara Jones and to conclude a stirring and varied programme they finished with ‘Hootenanny’ a compilation of ‘cheese tunes’ blended together for brass band by Harold Walters.

The choir then gave the audience its final set singing the tongue-twisting ‘All for the Best’ from Godspell, Nessun Dorma from Turandot and finally Arwell Hughes’ arrangement of Cwm Rhondda. The choir and the band came together for the final number of the evening, which was Comrades in Arms.

The choir are now busily rehearsing for their forthcoming trip to Normandy where they will be giving two concerts, and then on 15th November their 39th annual concert at St Julians Methodist Church. Both of these events will be reported on later.

Submitted by Ann Sykes, posted 4th December 2008

We would like to welcome two new members to the choir, Mark Young & Towy Hancock.

Posted 17th October 2008

GWENT POLICE CHOIR

The recent television programme, ‘Last Choir Standing’ has hopefully triggered a response from aspiring young (or not so young) men to hotfoot it to a local choir. They have a number to choose from in the Gwent area but the Gwent Police Choir extends a welcome to any aspiring singers. You won’t have to dance or twirl canes like the winners of the competition ‘Only Men Aloud’ but you will be given a warm welcome and join in the varied concerts and social events. Having restarted rehearsals after their summer break, a concert for St. Julian’s Senior Citizens takes place at Orchard Street Newport 22nd September. The choir are travelling to France in October to guest at two concerts, and of course their Annual Concert is at their usual venue St. Julian’s Methodist Church Caerleon Road Newport on 15th November, their guests this year are the St. Piran Singers, a lively ladies choir from Looe in Cornwall.

The choir practice at Police Headquarters Croesyceilog on Monday and Thursdays at 7:30pm. This doesn’t mean that you have to be a member of the force to join or an experienced singer, all are welcome. If you are interested ring Ron Comfort Publicity Officer 01633 667899.

We are very pleased to welcome two new members who have recently joined the choir. Mike Thomas base and Hugh Williams tenor.

Posted 8th September 2008

75th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT Saturday 14th June 2008

Following a visit to our last annual concert, the headmistress of Bruton Primary School in Somerset, a friend of choir member Dave Wybrant and his wife Pam, was so impressed with the choir’s performance that she asked if we could sing at the schools 75th Anniversary concert.

The majority of the choir members and some wives travelled by coach to Bruton, the primary school hall was too small to accommodate a large audience so the concert took place at Sexeys School in Bruton.

What a delightful evening, the choir as usual was excellent, but I have to they were upstaged by the children. Not only their enthusiastic singing but the orchestra too were enchanting. The hall was full not just with parents but many local supporters and dignitaries.

The evening continues at a near by pub. The headmistress and staff had organised a delicious supper and the choir were in full voice. A lovely end to the day.

View Anniversary Pictures - Click Here

Submitted by Jean Comfort

COMBINED CONCERT – HIGH CROSS PRIMARY SCHOOL AND GWENT POLICE CHOIR – 26th June 2008

It was a wet and windy night – hardly the weather for midsummer, but all was soon forgotten in the delightful concert given before a crowded audience with Mike Gough – Police Choir – at his usual witty best acting as MC for the evening.

The police choir began with three songs – the ‘African Prayer’, ‘Bring him Home’ and ‘Gwahoddiadd.’

The school’s orchestra delighted everyone with two well-known TV themes –‘ Doctor Who’ and ‘EastEnders’ before setting feet tapping and taking us back to the 50’s [those who could remember that far back!] with ‘Rock Around the Clock’.

Feet continued to tap as the police choir took the stage for another two songs – ‘Every Time I Feel the Spirit Moving’ and the ‘American Trilogy.’

The school choir – more than 50 in number – also brought a storm of applause with their selection of ‘Si, Si, Si’, followed by ‘Africa’– a song which urged everyone to ‘look after the animals’ and then the well known gospel song ‘Siyahamba.’

A change of scene from the police choir took everyone to Spain with a rendition of the ‘Toreador’s Song’ followed by ‘A Tribute to Mr. Curwen.’

The school choir then delighted us all with the song made famous by Westlife – ‘’No Matter What’, and concluded with the happy ‘Down in the Jungle’. The staff orchestra followed this with the song from Les Miserables – ‘I Dreamed a Dream.’

The police choir took to the stage for their final ‘spot’ singing ‘Nessun Dorma’ and ‘Cwm Rhondda’, and then the final piece had both choirs singing together ‘All for the Best’ from Godspell – an item that had the audience rising to its feet to give a well-deserved standing ovation and a call for an encore. Rodger delighted everyone by taking the two choirs through the song again, and the evening finished with the singing of the Welsh National Anthem.

In these days when young people are more often criticised than praised, it is good to redress the balance and see so many youngsters engaged in such worth-while interests, and we hope that in the future some of them at least will go on to become members of adult choirs.

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Submitted by Ann Sykes

WRITE-UP BY FORMER MAYOR ALLAN MORRIS IN GRASSROOTS TUESDAY MAY 20th

Gwent Police Choir Concert

Music lovers poured into Christchurch on a fine bright Saturday evening to support a fund-raising musical evening for the Cathedral Church of St. Woolos.
A fine church for fine music-and it was certainly a fine choir which produced a mouth-watering concert programme.

The compare Mike Gough, gave a good flow to the proceedings with wit and a smile as he told his amusing yarns. Rodger Appleby, the musical director, controlled the proceedings as only a true maestro can, and the accompanist Nicola Coker displayed a real talent of musical skill rarely heard these days.

What an array of choir singing the concert produced! An African Prayer, Amazing Grace, The Toreador’s Song, a Gershwin Medley to name but a few, with a fine resounding Cwm Rhondda to finish. Tenor soloist Don Martin was in fine voice and his performance of a comical version of ‘Jimmy Brown’ was masterful. Young Daisy Evans showed a remarkable talent for such a young soloist, providing a deep insight of her skill through some difficult passages.

A first class evening for a good local cause, with The Gwent Police Choir showing they are certainly in the premiere league of choir singing.

Article posted 31st May2008

CHOIR WEEKEND, LOOE, CORNWALL 16th - 18th MAY 2008

The choir made a return visit to Looe in Cornwall as guests of the St. Piran Singers, an all ladies group. The concert was to raise funds to build a children’s hospice in the Duchy.

The weather was disappointing but didn’t damp the spirits of the choir and their ladies.

Staying for the second time at The Hannafore Hotel, aptly named as it stands high on the point overlooking the sea, the choir soon made themselves at home.

Still drizzly on Saturday but most of the party got out and about, some to Looe, some to Polperro.

An early start for the choir to rehearse at the local community school, by the time the concert began all seats were taken. As most of the wives were present, the opportunity was taken for a group photograph.

the wives at looe

The M.C. for the evening was Tiffany Truscott from Radio Cornwall who are leading the ‘Precious Lives’ appeal to build the hospice.

The St. Piran Singers with conductor Danny Gill and accompanist Liz Sidebotham opened the concert with a rousing version of ‘Cornwall – My Anthem’, then ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ and ‘When I’m Sixty Four’. (A rather different version to ours).

GPC’s first set started with ‘An African Prayer’, sung partly in Xsosa, proving we don’t just sing in English and Welsh. Then followed ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables,  very well received by the audience. ‘Every Time I Feel the Spirit’ got everyone’s feet tapping and rounding off with the stirring ‘American Trilogy’.

St. Piran ladies took us up to the interval with the lovely ‘You Raise me Up’, followed by ‘The Rose’, then the contrasting ‘Rhythm of Life’ from Sweet Charity.

After a short interval GPC opened the second half with ‘Toreador’ from Carmen, a beautiful version of ‘Amazing Grace’ arranged by our conductor Rodger Appleby and finally ‘A Tribute to Mr. Curwen’. As explained by Rodger, Mr Curwen invented the Tonic Solfa (without it what would Julie Andrews have done in ‘The Sound of Music’) Rodger not only told the audience a little of Mr. Curwen’s history, but taught us some of the hand signs allied to the various notes.

Returning in colourful feather boas the St. Piran Singers took us back to the roaring twenties with ‘All That Jazz’ a change of pace gave us the theme from ‘Whistle Down the Wind’ and finally a stirring tribute to Freddy Mercury and Queen with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Barcelona’.

choir at looe

GPC took to the stage for their final set opening with ‘All for the Best’ from Godspell, Rodgers explanation of the duet between Jesus and Judas helped the audience to understand the lyrics, (however no one was brave enough to take Rodgers invite to ‘to take sides and sign along’)

This was followed by ‘Nessun Dorma’, sung by Pavarotti and made famous by the choir!

The call foe an encore brought the spiritual ‘My Lord what a Morning’, and finally the stirring ‘Cwm Rhondda’.

Flowers and gifts were presented to both conductors and accompanists and the evening ended in splendid style with the combined choirs singing both the Welsh National Anthem and Trelawny.

A superb buffet was provided after the concert, where members of both choir and their families and friends were able to mingle socially.

At the time of writing it is anticipated that the St. Pran Singers will be guest artistes at our Annual Concert in November.

Article Submitted by Ann Sykes posted 31st May2008

The choir are well into another busy year, 1st March a lovely flower festival at St. Julians Methodist Church in aid of the church funds was well attended.

Back again to the church at the beginning of April with Torfaen ladies choir the Linden Singers for a concert in aid of Gwent Breast Cancer Support Group, very well supported, thoroughly enjoyed by members and audience alike, and the sum of £1,600 was raised,

cheque presentaion

Praise must go to Stewart Ashdown, one of our choristers, and his wife Gill who worked very hard to organise this event.

In April the choir travelled to Brynmawr for a memorial concert to the late Ray Hapgood, still sorely missed by choir members. What a wonderful night and such a welcome at Libanus Church.

Saturday May 10th will find the choir singing at Holy Trinity Church Christchurch in Newport, this concert is in aid of St. Woolas Cathedral Rescue Appeal. Start 7.30p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the door.

May 16th with family and friends we travel to Looe in Cornwall to join the ladies of St. Piran Singers for a combined concert. The ladies will be returning the compliment when they travel to Newport to join us in our Annual concert in November.

June finds us looking forward to helping Head Teacher Anne Stephens and her pupils celebrate the 75th anniversary of Bruton Primary School in Somerset, it's always a pleasure to see young people taking an interset in music and we understand that some of the children are taking part in the concert.

A warm welcome to two new choristers Richard Lewis and Jim Hill who have joined our tenor section.

Article from Jean Comfort posted 5th May2008

Rest and Relaxation weekend 15th - 17th February

It's that time of year again. The choir's annual R. & R. weekend away. This year it was Tenby, staying at the Giltar Hotel.

The coach journey was a great success, en route we all enjoyed Chris Humphreys famous pasties, then Phil handed out Quiz papers and lucky ball numbers, adding to the holiday atmoshere.

View Tenby pictures - Click here

The amenities and entertainment provided by the hotel were excellent as the above pictures show.

Saturday we woke to beautiful weather, blue skies, sunshine and a cloudless sky. A few people made good use of their bus passes, going to Pembroke, Amroth, Narbeth and Saundersfoot. Some of our younger members and their wives walked back from Amroth, a good stomp, about 8 miles.

Some nice restaurants and pubs in Tenby provide food for all.

Saturday night the hotel gave us a Valentines meal and the evening entertainer Rob, sang for well over three hours, lots of singing and dancing, even Alf (I won't mention his age) managed a few dances. Mike Gough rounded the evening off with his usual wit and jokes.

The journey home on Sunday came far too soon; Phyllis Taylor won the lucky ball number and Bob Daniel the Quiz after a high draw 'shootout' with Jim Angel.

Thanks to the committee and chairman Phil Humphreys for organising this very successful trip, much appreciated by members, wives and friends.

If you would like any information about joining this happy band. Phone Mike Gough 01633 485543, Ron Comfort 01633 667899 or email Chris Humphreys. chris.humphreys4@ntlworld.com

Article from Gill Ashdown posted 25th February 2008

Ron Comfort asked me to write an article for the site so I thought I'd write about Friendship, it's something I know about, you see I've experienced true friendship first hand, I suppose I've been very fortunate in my life, I've had the pleasure of belonging to two great choirs, the first was the Mellotones and now the Gwent Police Choir, when I say great I'm referring to the choristers, not the size of the choir, we're just like a family at least that's the way I feel, when the Mellotones folded I never thought I'd get that family feeling with another choir so I was pleasantly surprised when I joined the Police Choir to find it was almost identical in friendliness, and I feel a sense of belonging, for which I'm grateful to all the long serving members for the welcome they gave myself and the other two Mellotones Roy and Ken who joined at the same time, I've been very impressed with the work ethic of the choir and hope we will always seek to enjoy what we do and bring enjoyment to those we serve, I hope and pray the choir will go on for many years to come, God bless you all.

Article from choir member Charles Cadogan

The following article appeared in the South Wales Argus on Wednesday 2nd January 2008. Gwent Police Choir are proud to have Charles as a member.

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