2013 Archive

2013 Choir dinner dance

What a great night organised by our Vice Chairman Stuart Ashdown and his lovely wife Gill, we all know how much work it takes to organise t hese events and they certainly made it a great success. The beautifully decorated tables and the superbly printed place name cards penned by Lorna Hopkins, started the evening off with style.

The dinner and wine were very enjoyable; there were certainly no complaints from our table, loved the nice touch of handmade chocolates for the ladies.

The Chinese bingo presided over by Alf created lots of laughs and he was also on hand to announce the numbers for the raffle. Lots of lovely prizes and thanks go to Pam Wybrant for her persuasive selling techniques.

Your camera crew, myself and Gill, took lots of photographs which you can see at the end of this account of our lovely evening.

As our chairman Phil Humphreys was unable to attend, Ron Comfort thanked Stuart and Gill for all their work and read a poem by Ann Sykes about the concert, this also can be found on this website.

Our entertainment was a singer/guitarist who played a variety of styles of music for all tastes and most of us enjoyed dancing the night away. A truly enjoyable evening to end this year’s social calendar. View pictures.

Submitted by Jean Comfort, December 2013

Howard’s Moustache

This November I decided to grow a moustache for a fund raising effort. It started up a bit slow and ended up rather grey.

During the growing period I was likened to Walt Disney, Clark Gable and Errol Flynn by certain members of the choir. This gave my wife a good laugh; her words were “In my Dreams”.

However, it gave me the opportunity to do my “bit” for the men’s prostate cancer society.

I am very pleased to announce contributions from the choir amounted to £180. The rest came from other sources making the grand total of £246. Fantastic! I would like to thank each and every person for their generous donations.

As you have probably noticed I am no longer sporting the said moustache, but hopefully I will give it another go next year. Thank you once again.

Howard

Submitted by Howard Hicks, December 2013

44th Annual Concert of the Gwent Police Choir

Yet again St. Julian’s Methodist church was packed to the rafters for the 44th Annual Concert of the Gwent Police Choir. As usual this concert was almost sold out, but a fortunate few obtained the last few tickets at the door.

Opening the evening’s entertainment, our compere Mike Gough welcomed the Police Commissioner Ian Johnston and his wife, also the Mayor Councillor Cliff Suller and his wife.

With the introduction of Roger Appleby and Nicola Coker the choir began in rousing fashion with two pieces from Les Miserables, ‘Do you Hear the People Sing?’ and ‘Bring him Home’, followed by the equally rousing hymn ‘Deus Salutis’.

Now came the time for the first soloist, and everyone was delighted to welcome Laura Senior. She began by playing a Cossack Dance from the Ukraine, a dance executed by the men of the region to display their manliness, heroism and strength. Certainly in this first piece Laura brought out all those things and we knew we were in for, a feast of violin music from someone who could make the instrument talk. Her second piece, in total contrast, was the gentle theme from Schindler’s List, and finally the Presto movement from Summer by Vivaldi [The Four Seasons].

Bridging the gap between soloists and choristers was once again Mike Gough, displaying his usual flair for the comic as he told jokes in his own inimitable way. Mike is always a valued member as raconteur and chorister, and on this night he was on top form.

Back to the choir again who delighted everyone with two songs arranged by Rodger Appleby –‘If I Fell in Love’ by the Beatles, and the lovely spiritual ‘Didn’t it Rain’ and then a revival of a piece the choir used to sing – ‘Little Innocent Lamb’.

The second soloist has appeared many times with the choir. Rhys Hay Matthews, son of Nicola Coker, the choir accompanist, is a true master of percussion instruments, beginning with ‘To the Gods of Rhythm’ on the African drum, changing to the Marimba to play ‘The Black and White Rag’ and ‘Flying’ on the Marimba, following these with ‘Macedonia’ and ‘On the Track’’.

The choir ended the first half with Rodger Appleby’s setting of the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ and then a very familiar piece to male voice aficionados – ‘By Babylon’s Wave’. The writer of this article had heard this song many times by male choirs, both as recordings and in concert, but never with the depth of feeling and so much contrast between the moods of the song as the Police Choir demonstrated.

The second half began with the delightful ‘Shenandoah’, and then to everyone’s delight the choir’s deputy conductor, Alyson Jones, conducted the choir as they sang the ‘American Trilogy’ (sometimes known as the Tesco three-in-one offering).

It was time for Rhys to demonstrate his love for and expertise on drums and marimba, beginning with ‘Libertango’ on the Brazilian drum then two ragtime pieces on the Marimba – ‘Triplets’ and ‘The Whistler’. He concluded with ‘Streets of New Orleans’ on the drum kit accompanied on the piano by Nicola.

The choir then sang ‘Prayer of the Children’. I am not ashamed to say I was wiping my eyes during this piece, as it was written for the children of the world who are the innocent sufferers in wartime. Part of the piece was in Serbo-Croat, and was obviously first written for the children of that fractured land, but dedicated to all suffering innocents.

In contrast, we were serenaded by the Beatles’ song ‘I Will’, which they have often sung at weddings of choristers’ sons and daughters, followed by the foot-tapping ‘Swinging with the Saints’.

The time had come to hear Laura Senior again, and we discovered that she is the lady friend of Rhys Matthews, so it is safe to assume they have ‘music all the way’. Laura began with the delicate theme from Ladies in Lavender, and then the beautiful Meditation from Thais. Her final piece was a Polish Dance, for which she received truly thunderous applause. Both Rhys and Laura were asked for an encore, and they joined together to play the well known ‘Czardas’.

Finally, the choir sang ‘You Raise me Up’ and ‘Cwm Rhondda’. This final piece brought the audience to their feet for a standing ovation, one which continued when Rhys and Laura were brought forward to receive their justly deserved plaudits.

Tribute must be made to Rodger Appleby and Nicola Coker, Musical Director and Accompanist. They not only conducted and accompanied all the choral pieces but also accompanied in turn both Laura and Rhys in their solo spots. They are truly great musicians in their own right. This choir goes from strength to strength, and I have already made sure of my ticket for the 2014 annual concert.

To bring the evening to a close the choir chairman, Phil Humphreys thanked everyone who had been responsible for organising the concert. He also thanked the Mayor of Newport, Councillor Cliff Suller and his wife; the Police Commissioner Ian Johnson and his wife, and David and Mary Hando, long-standing supporters of the choir for their attendance.

Presentations were then made to Nicola, Laura and Alyson as well as Rodger, Rhys and Mike before singing Happy Birthday to Brian Spanswick, one of the choristers.

Finally everyone rose to sing the Welsh National Anthem and all agreed it had been a wonderful evening.

Submitted by Ann Sykes, November 2013

Tribute poem for the 44th Annual Concert of the Gwent Police Choir

Where were the people on Saturday night -
The night of November 16?
The streets of the city were empty of folk
And the traffic nowhere to be seen.

A puzzle it was till a man in the know
Pointed straight to St. Julians church
If you want to find people just go there and look.
You’ll find what you seek if you search

So the traveller, still puzzled, went up to the church
And saw lots of people inside
A male choir were singing with feeling and mirth
And soloists - two there, beside.

So where were the people from Newport that night?
They were all sitting comfy inside
And the many who couldn’t get into the show –
Just stood on the pathway outside.

So just heed this message – its meaning is plain
If you want to come in for a treat
Book your tickets this Christmas for 2014
You’ll be guaranteed quite a good seat.

It’s better than telly or X box or Kindle
For the Gwent Police Choir I can say
Knock the spots off the shows that they put on TV
And they only get better each day!

Submitted by Ann Sykes, November 2013

Skittle Night 18/9/2013

A great night organised by Stewart Ashdown and his wife Gill at Cwmbran Workmens Club was enjoyed by all who participated, just enough for six teams which included a number of partners. Jim & Pat Angel, John Elstone and Howard Hicks were the winning team and Mary Croke had top score after an exciting play-off with Pam Wybrand.

We then enjoyed lovely sandwiches and a convivial drink. Enjoy the pictures.


FROM A CHOIR GROUPIE!

viking lass

This is not designed to be anything other than a perfectly ordinary report in spite of the title. The normal term ‘groupie’ does not apply to the choir, and yet in a way it does because we – the wives of the choristers are just that – a group of ladies who support the choir in all its activities [and occasionally lay on a few humorous additions of our own].

Having been asked to write about being one of the chorister’s wives I can honestly say I have never been anything else since marrying Malcolm 42 years ago. He was then singing top tenor with the Idris Singers of Cwmbran, and when that choir folded due to lack of membership Malcolm joined the Gwent Police Choir. So I don’t know what it is to be anything other than a ‘choir groupie’.

I see the role of a chorister’s wife as supporting her husband in all aspects of his musical life. In my case on concert nights it means having a meal on the table earlier than normal dining times, as many people will know it’s impossible to sing on a full stomach! It also involves me attending the various concerts of the choir and sometimes writing up notes on the concerts for inclusion in the website. I thoroughly enjoy both these activities and have been known to mouth the words of some of the songs while the men are singing.

In addition, like some other of the wives, I act as chauffeur when the choir enjoy an afterglow following a concert. [Afterglows ‘usually’ involve some alcoholic beverage!]

I have found a great comradeship among the wives during the years Malcolm has been a member, and we have been known to pen some ditties and even sing them at annual dinners.

Some of the wives [myself included] belong to other choirs in our own right, so we have an added responsibility to ensure that concert dates don’t clash. Fortunately in my case practice night is a Wednesday so I don’t clash with the Police Choir’s practice nights.

A view from the wife’s side? – a very enjoyable one. We love supporting our husbands in their role as choristers, and whatever we can do to ensure all the little things in the background go to plan, we aim to do those things. I am, as are all the wives, proud to be known as a ‘choir groupie’.

Submitted by Ann Sykes, September 2013

stan isacc

It is with great sadness that I have to announce the passing of one of our three Founder Members, namely Stan Isaac.

Prior to joining the Police force, Stan worked as a welder; he also served his National Service with the Welsh Fusiliers, serving 18 months in Jamaica.

On completion of his National Service, Stan returned to his old job as a Welder for 6 months, which was obligatory at that time.

Stan then spent 6 years as a Miner at Bettws Colliery, West Wales.

In October 1958 Stan joined the Police Force, at that time known as Newport Borough. Stan was stationed at Maindee until he became the first Dog Handler in Newport.

In March 1969 upon the formation of the Police Choir, Stan was one of the Founder Members; he was a stalwart member of the Choir, dedicated and enthusiastic as are all Welshmen who enjoy their singing.

Following the retirement of his Police Dog, Stan completed his career in the Police force as Collator and then in the Radio Room at the Civic Centre until his retirement in 1986.

Stan was a well loved member of the Choir who had a wry sense of humour. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

Phil Humphreys. Chairman.##

GERRY HOPKINS

gerry

As one of the longest serving members of the Gwent Police Choir I am about to start my 45th year as a chorister. As a founder year and life member I have put together a few memories.

The choir was formed at the Newport Police Club in1969 under the baton of Sgt. Bill Bosustow and the accompanist was his wife Eileen. The choir have had three conductors, Bill Bosustow, Brian Taylor and our present conductor Rodger Appleby. We practised in the lounge of the club and in those days it was not unusual to have a pint of beer whilst practising. Maybe that’s why I joined, having never sung before it was a new venture for me. During my time with the choir I have served 35 years as a committee member, as Deputy Treasurer I remember that subs were £1 per year. I also served as both Treasurer and Stage Manager.

Some of my earliest memories are travelling to Cornwall for concerts – the contact was our conductor who was a Cornishman. We were based at Royal Naval Air Station, Culdrose and indeed some of the choir were offered flights in their Rescue Helicopters. Whilst at Culdrose members of the choir who were inspectors and above were required to dine in the Ward Room. The others dined at the Petty Officers Mess and as all supplies were ordered by Petty Officers, their mess was far superior! Of course in those days we were not accompanied by wives and friends. The ladies joined us for various trips home and abroad when we moved to our present practise venue at Croesyceiliog.

I remember one occasion as we were ready to leave for Cornwall one of our tenors – Jack Harries, a senior detective was called to the phone. He returned to the coach and all C.I.D. members (approx 10) were told that because of a double murder at Blaenavon they were required for duty. We were left with a much depleted choir.

Present membership is 45 but one time was 65. I can remember performing with famous artists of the day. Roy Castle at the Hexagon Theatre, Stuart Burrows at one of our Annual concerts and many other notable celebrities, we also have connections with other Police choirs – Thames Valley, Devon and Cornwall, Derbyshire, Doncaster and others. In 1983 about 20 choristers joined Cor Meibion De Cymru on their tour to America, we sang at Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and New York. In the front row of the audience at the New York concert was a then famous film star, Joan Fontaine. We felt like stars ourselves in such glamorous company. When we boarded our planes (2 Jumbos) at Toronto airport there was a copy of the South Wales Argus and Echo on each seat.

Singing is a great pastime and I hope to enjoy many more years with the choir.

note

News update

The choir are currently enjoying their summer break after a very busy spring schedule. Actually the summer break incorporated singing at a chorister’s daughter’s wedding in Cardiff and at one of the choristers’ 60th birthday celebration.

Returning to rehearsals in September its full steam ahead with a trip to Knowle in Bristol to support the Kidderminster Valentines at a charity concert.

Back to Newport in October for two local churches, first to raise funds for Holy Trinity, Christchurch on the 10th and Duckpool Road Baptist Church on the 24th helping to raise money for Breakthough Breast Cancer.

The highlight of the choir’s year is always the annual concert; make a note of the date, Saturday 16th November at St. Julian’s Church, Caerleon Road, Newport, for this event is always sold out in advance.

Later that month it’s party time for the choir at the annual dinner dance to be held once again at the Parc Golf Club. If you want to see how we enjoy our social life take a look at the photographs on our function page.

If you are thinking of joining a choir come along on Monday or Thursday evening at 7.30 p.m. to Police Headquarters Croesyceiliog. You don’t have to read music or be a serving officer. The choir consists of individuals from all walks of life who enjoy a passion for singing. You will be made very welcome particularly if you are a tenor.

The choir are very pleased to welcome Alyson Jones as Deputy Conductor to support Roger Appleby, our esteemed long standing Musical Director.

Alyson studied voice in both Cardiff and The Guildhall School of Music performing leads in many operatic productions. Returning to Wales she embarked on a teaching career with the Gwent Music Support Service, has conducted Children’s choirs in St David’s Hall Cardiff and the Royal Albert Hall and most recently a performance as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for H.M. The Queen and Prince Philip.

Alyson still enjoys a solo career while continuing to pass on her passion for singing to both children and adult choirs in Gwent

The choir have a full programme of concerts every year both local and many other parts of the country, if you are raising money for charity we have a few vacant dates in 2014. If you would like to book us, contact Bryn Thomas. Concert Secretary 01633 779473.

For information about the choir call Ron Comfort. Publicity office. 01633 667899.

Submitted by Jean Comfort

Howards 60th Birthday Bash

What a most enjoyable night we had on 6th July 2013 at the Greenmeadow Golf Club, to celebrate Howard’s 60th Birthday. As you know Howard is in the baritone section of the choir.

When we decided to throw a party, we wanted to share it with not only friends and family, but we wanted to make it special by inviting the whole choir with their wives and partners. As I am such a fan of the choir I asked Howard if they could do us the honour of performing for the other guests. I was so happy when they consented to do so.

It was a very warm and sultry evening, anyone who did not attend missed out on a very happy celebration. We started the evening with a few of my favourite songs from the gentlemen, for once they were not in their usual choir uniform but in ‘Civvies’. The audience were very appreciative of the choice of music.

At several times it looked as if Roger was going to melt with the heat, may I say at this point how thankful we were to Roger for coming straight from his holiday. In contrast to the heat Nicola accompanied with her usual flair, looking very cool and relaxed, thank you Nicola.

When the ‘boys’ had finished their part of the proceedings it was the turn of our ‘Genial Host’ Mike Gough. He did a 15minute stand up comedy routine. It certainly appeared to go down well with the other guests, even if one or two of his jokes were a little ‘risqué’, but hey if you can’t have a laugh it would be a pretty dull world. Thank you Mike.

Howard then presented all three, Roger, Nicola and Mike with a gift from both of us.

Following the comedy section it was time for the buffet, where we all got stuck in to the delicious fare. With stomachs suitably full, we proceeded with the disco and some of us got up to ‘throw a few shapes’, and some of us just had a dance.

Everyone was in a very happy mood when it was time to depart. I can safely say we all had a smashing time. From my point of view, may I say a great big thank you to all concerned, for giving my husband, Howard, a wonderful birthday. View Pictures.

With Sincere Thanks
Frances Hicks


Twelve Of The Best
by
Frances Hicks

My lord What A Morning
After such a restful night
The birds are singing in the trees
It fills me with delight.

I Dreamed a Dream that you and I
Were walking hand in hand
You took me to a heavenly place
Known as Nirvana land.

Down in The Sally Garden
You pledged your love for me
My heart was beating madly
As you knelt on bended knee.

If I fell in love with anyone
It would surely be with you
For You Raise Me Up when I am down
And the grey skies turn Azure.

It was in the midst of Summertime
The sun gave It’s warmth again
But as quick as a flash in the blink of an eye
By heaven’s, Didn’t it Rain !

In my dream there was a choir in song
And our hearts were on the wing
I asked you as we leant an ear
Do You Hear The People Sing?

Guide Me Oh Thy Great Redeemer
As Another Day is born
The Love Comes Tricklin down to earth
My faith in thee is sworn.

Frances Hicks

Once again the choir are going through a fairly busy period with concerts, and they have even been singing at a couple of weddings as well as fulfilling their concert requests. Once every two years they make a visit to New Inn Pensioners, where they are made very welcome indeed. This bi-annual event occurred on 25th April and they followed their usual programme, with the addition of Mansel Thomas’ arrangement of Deus Salutis [Greeting to God]. Throughout the evening their usual compere, Mike Gough, was on top form as he always is, forming a smooth bridge between the choir and their guest artiste who, on this occasion was Alyson Jones. She delighted everyone with such songs as Panis Angelicus and Caro mio Ben as well as music from Porgy and Bess [Summertime} and from Les Miserables, On my Own. Her two remaining songs were the delightful John Rutter setting of All Things Bright and Beautiful and Without You from My Fair Lady.

The next concert was on Friday 10th May at Llantarnam Abbey in aid of St. Anne’s Hospice, where they were the guests of Pontnewydd Ladies Choir. After a welcome by Terry Woodsford, the ladies opened with ‘It’s a Grand Night for Singing’ and it certainly was! Their programme was delightful and varied, moving from the Howard Goodall version of the Lord’s my Shepherd [associated with The Vicar of Dibley] to Karl Jenkins modern Adiemus. Songs from various shows and folk songs were interspersed with one another to form a beautiful programme.

The soloist was once again Alyson Jones who sang four lovely songs. After her first spot it was time for her to don another ‘hat’ as she took centre stage as conductor for the Police Choir during Rodger Appleby’s absence on holiday. Alyson led the men smoothly from one song to another, which included some Beatles songs arranged by Rodger, songs from the shows and religious pieces. The evening would not have been right without some light-heartedness, and this was shown by the men delighting everyone with ‘Swinging with the Saints’ – a superb dovetailing of the songs Swing Low Sweet Chariot and When the Saints go Marching In’. Around £800 was raised for the work of the hospice, and at the close of the evening those who had taken part were thanked, as well as thanks given to those who work tirelessly in the background, fund-raising for a very worthy cause.

The final item came when the combined ladies’ and men’s choirs gathered to sing the Welsh National anthem and virtually raised the roof of the Abbey.

There are still more concerts in the pipeline – check with the choir’s website for forthcoming events.

Submitted by Ann Sykes, 20th May 2013

Successful night at the Skittle Alley

A wet night was no deterrent to the enthusiastic choristers and their partners who turned up for a great social evening, organised with his usual style by Stuart and our very own top tenor Alf, at the Cwmbran Workmen’s Club. With plenty of encouragement and not a little barracking we all enjoyed the game and also the delicious sandwiches. Not sure who won but John Elstone and Vera Watson shared the honour of top scorer.

I’m sure it won’t be long before another social night is organised.

Posted, March 23th 2013

A Busy Start to 2013

The choir had a busy start to 2013 with four concerts in the first 10 weeks or so, beginning with a return visit to Capel Court sheltered housing complex. This is the 44th year since the choir was founded, originally as the Newport Police Choir, and many changes have taken place since then. But the high standard of singing has been maintained throughout, not the least by the current musical director Rodger Appleby and accompanist, the very talented Nicola Coker. The choir followed its traditional programme with Rodger doubling as guest artist, playing some beautiful classical music as well as playing one of his own compositions called Provence. As always the programme was kept running smoothly by Mike Gough, chorister and compere extraordinaire.

The next concert was held at the choir’s favourite venue, St. Julian’s Methodist church where they held the concert postponed from earlier because of the snow. The concert was in aid of Newport County, Friends of the Transporter Bridge and St. Julian’s church’s own funds. We were delighted to welcome David and Mary Hando and the Mayor and Mayoress of Newport, Councillor John Guy and his wife Joyce. It was at this concert that the choir introduced a beautiful new song called Fy Mhlentyn. The guest artist on this occasion was Clive Lemon whose programme was varied and beautiful, ranging from Welsh songs to songs from the shows, finishing with what must be his signature tune – If I were a Rich Man. Once again Mike compered the concert, and at the end presentations were made to Nicola, Rodger, Clive and Mike. David thanked the choir and Clive for the evening, and also thanked the Mayor’s chauffeur, ex Cllr. Hugh Clark and Cllr. Charles Ferris as well as Rev. Richard Gillion, minister of the church, all of whom attended the concert.

Their next concert was held on 1st March and was a ‘Music and Welsh cakes’ evening. The choir shared the evening with the well-known ladies choir The Linden Singers under the baton of their conductor Mr Lyn Weaver. Also taking part were Ethan Hall, a young man whose command of the trumpet was truly excellent, and harpist/singer Cailtlin Prowle who delighted everyone with traditional and modern songs. The evening was compered by Rev. Beverly Morgan and was in aid of Help for Heroes. Lynn Tanner explained how the charity was set up and spoke about some of the people who have been helped by it.

The final concert of the four was held on Thursday 7th March when the choir paid a return visit to George Lansbury residential home for elderly people. The choir gave its usual programme with the addition of tenor soloist from the choir, Don Martin, who delighted everyone with his lovely rendering of Girls were Made to Love and Kiss, and Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific. Rodger also played the piano once again, delighting everyone with Debussy’s First Arabesque and his own piece, Provence.

Submitted by Ann Sykes, March 12th 2013

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