Chairman’s Review Of Diamond Jubilee Year

Chairman Ray Williams, a retired CID sergeant based in Worcester, looks back on his first year as choir leader:

“It has been a mixed year of challenges and experiences, but I was fortunate to have the support of quality teams dealing with both the music side and the equally important smooth and efficient running of the choir administration.

There were many highlights throughout year. One of them was singing at the launch of the supporters club of the 2017 British Lions Rugby Tour of New Zealand at Worcester Warriors ground. This was a great cultural experience as we got to perform with the famous Maori HaKa dancers.

Recording a new CD album, ‘60 Years On The Beat’ was another experience, especially for the newer choristers. The repertoire chosen by our musical director, Alison Houlbrooke, demonstrated just how diverse and flexible we have become as a group. The quality of the music was a fitting tribute to Brian Williams, whose loss was a big blow. But his legacy – a hugely successful choir – will live on.

Another highlight that stands out was the tour to the German city of Magdeburg, hosted by the Magdeburg Police Choir, a mixed group who had joined us in Hereford in 2015 for our annual concert. The two concerts and the hospitality were magnificent.

For the 2017 annual concert in the Shire Hall, a full house, the guest soloists were both students at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama: Emily Rooke from Pudleston, near Leominster, winner of the Police Choir Young Musicians Bursary, and Oscar Castellino, a baritone from Eygpt.

The opportunity to perform an outdoor concert in the wonderful gardens of our Patron, Clive Richards and his wife Sylvia, at Lower Hope, Ullingswick was also a special treat, as was the opportunity to sing with three Welsh choirs – Rhayader, Neath and Cardiff Arms Park.

But none of us was prepared for the stunning success of the grand finale, the Diamond Jubilee concert in the Cathedral at the end of October, played to another full house and standing ovations. As they say, we had a little help from our friends. Stephen John Davis usually sings to audiences in West End theatres, taking lead roles in mega musicals like Phantom of the Opera or Les Miserables. His father Michael is a member of the choir and Stephen has sung with us several times. The audience loved him, as they did our guest soprano Emily Rooke from Pudleston near Leominster, a student at the Royal Welsh College of Music in Cardiff and winner of the 2017 Police Choir Young Musician’s Bursary. But the real heroine of the night was schoolgirl, Rosa Valentine Bennet, grand–daughter of Brian Williams, who paid her own personal tribute in song to her grandad, winning emotional applause.”