Longtime members of one of Chester’s finest choirs have been honored with special honors celebrating their contribution to musical creation for 60 years.
Special badges and honorary life membership awards were presented to ten members of the Chester Male Voice Choir.
Half of the rewards have already been handed out to members at their doorsteps in order to comply with Covid-19 restrictions.
Presentations were made by choir president John Walsh, accompanied by committee members Ron Webster and Blair Wilson.
The recipients included:
- Norman Harvey, 37 years of service
- Mike Hendy, 44
- Roy Gallimore 48 years old
- Geoff Hewson, 48
- Mike Heathcote, 50
Unfortunately, due to travel and other restrictions, introductions have yet to be made to some members including Lance Howie (30 years of service), Gerry Smith (36) and Howard Millington and Derek Hewson ( both 40 years old).
The presentation of a posthumous award in memory of the late Bob Cunningham in recognition of his 60 years of choir service was presented to his wife Sheila.
Speaking of the special presentations, John Walsh said, “2021 will be the 80th anniversary of the choir’s formation. Unsurprisingly, we have members who have rendered long service and we felt it appropriate to give them the recognition they amply deserve with the award of Honorary Life Membership.
“Special ceramic badges were designed for recipients to wear proudly on their uniforms and certificates signed by our President, Her Grace the Duchess of Westminster, were printed and framed.
“The chosen qualification level was 30 years and every 10 years thereafter. We found that we had no less than ten members who qualified with, surprisingly, one at 50 and one at 60!
“It is a testament to the pleasure acquired by the membership that the members of the choir stay for so long. Most of those recognized have been committee members, presidents, secretaries and treasurers during their tenure.
“Under normal circumstances we would have had a special awards night for all members and families, but this was not possible due to Covid.
“So, with colleagues Ron Webster and Blair Wilson who developed the program, we donned our uniform costumes and hit the road to do doorstep presentations to our award recipients!”
Chester Male Voice Choir performing at Chester Town Hall last year with the late Bob Cunningham in the front row, fifth from right. Credit: Will Hay Photography.
Among those who received his award at one of the special doorstep ceremonies was Saughall’s Mike Heathcote.
The 82-year-old former choirmaster has been a member for 50 years and has been instrumental in organizing some of the groups’ many concert tours across the UK and overseeing, including one in South Dakota, in the United States in 1980.
Mike, a retired police officer, said: “I was surprised and delighted with the award of the honorary life membership title. The choir fellowship has played such an important role in my life and that of my family.
“There have been so many highlights over the past 50 years, including singing in the great cathedrals of Europe including St. Vitus in Prague, Notre Dame in Paris and Cologne Cathedral.
“It was also a privilege to share the Chester concert stage with several world famous stars such as Sir Bryn Terfel and Sir Willard White, and to have participated in several Male Voice Choir mass concerts at the Royal Albert Hall.
“Above all, I really appreciate the many friendships that my family and I have made through my membership in the choir, it’s something really special.”