Past Member's Memories of Bude Choral Society

We have added this page to our website after being contacted by Margaret Freeman who sang with the choir in the 1960s. We would be delighted to hear from anyone who has been connected with Bude Choral Society and if anyone has photos to share we would be absolutely thrilled to create even more memories to share!

A big thank you to Margaret for sending us a lovely message telling us about her days in Bude Choral Society ..........

My name is Margaret Freeman nee Sillifant and I am the owner of the Choral Society photo which appears on Nostalgic Bude. I notice that you made a comment re what we used to sing. I can remember some pieces and if you are interested, I will tell you and also give you my list of singers identified so far.I have a feeling that your conductor John Hobbs was a soloist at some of the concerts. 

A lot of people were connected with the Grammar School and it was Mr Davies who taught Latin who asked me to join. He is not in the photo as he was not well for some weeks. I remember this because I played the piano in assembly while he was absent.

The practices were usually in Central Chapel rooms but in Flexbury rooms on a few occasions. As I could read music I was placed in the alto section and I sat by Betty Keefe, the alto soloist in the photo. As we got on really well, she asked me if I would play the piano for her when she was asked to sing in various local halls around the area. As you can imagine some of the pianos were in terrible condition so we had interesting times!!! 

Although I was in the choir for only a couple of years before going to train to become a teacher, the experience inspired me to keep my interest in singing.I have been in Chesterfield Philharmonic Choir since 1982 and am now in the tenor section!!! Our conductor, Steven Roberts also conducts Honley Male Voice Choir and they performed a few years ago in Bude Central during the Cornwall Male Voice Festival. Together with his third choir, Altrincham Choral Society, we are singing in Huddersfield Town Hall on March 10th in a concert featuring Lesley Garrett and the BBC Songs of Praise winning junior school choir. I would not have been able to be part of this occasion if I had not had a good start to my choral experiences, Therefore to Bude Choral Society, I am eternally grateful.

More of Margaret's memories.

I think that "Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal" by Roger Quilter was in Betty Keefe's  repertoire as I remember having to practise that. She used to come to my parents' home in New Road in Stratton. We used to have a good laugh and I continue to be a member of the "gigglers" even though I am in the middle of a load of fellas!!! I remember trying to stifle my laughter when the lady to the left of Sheila Eaton used to follow the soloists but was usually on the wrong page.!! Soloist Following was against the rules anyway and again I am indebted to BCS for that training!! I also remember two regular concert attenders whom I think were brothers called Legg. They always sat at the front of the audience but often caused amusement because they would fall asleep!!! 

My recollections of the repertoire, as I was in the choir for only two years, my list is not long. The first piece I sang was the choral version of "Carmen". We also performed "Elijah" which is still my favourite oratorio and Rossini's "Stabat Mater", I cannot remember if there was always a Christmas concert. My first encounter with "Messiah" was not until 1982!!! We are singing this once again on April 7th but at least this time, I have the increased interest of learning the tenor part! 

I am wondering if anyone remembers the existence of The Bede Haven Singers?* This group was formed sometime during Sept '64 to July '65. It consisted of eight people as far as I can remember. They were Lucille, Betty, David Williams, Iwan Davies, myself plus I believe Roberta Noyes, maybe Mr Blatchford and an unknown male. We sang two concerts - one in Stratton Church and one in the Grenville Hotel. The only piece I can recollect is "Dance A Cachucha" from the Gondoliers!! I also wonder who can remember going to a choir dinner at Lewtrenchard Hotel? This would have been in July '65.

(* John Hobbs remembers the group being called 'The Budehaven Singers' rather than the Bedehaven Singers.)

Here are the names of most of the members of the choir in the photo.

Front Row: Soloist Geoffrey Savage, Soloist Lucille Opie, Soloist Roy Edwards,  Soloist Betty Keefe, Lil Gillett, unknown, Sheila Eaton, Janet Budd, Jackie Dredge. 

Second Row: Eric Willy, Conductor Ronald Thewlis, Mrs Frank Brock, Unknown, Marjorie Walters, Unknown, Agnes Martin. 

Third Row: Sue Coxon, Roberta Noyes, Betty Stabb, Unknown, Unknown, Hilda Eddy, Ivy Joll, Mary Jewell, Ray Guscott, Unknown.

Fourth Row: Kathleen Beswetherick, Unknown, Zena Sloman, Nell Davey, Unknown, Margaret Sillifant, Mrs Morgan, Unknown, Margaret Hobbs.

 Back Row: Arnold Lomax, Michael Balston, Tom Ible, Unknown, David Williams, Tony Guscott, Reg Morgan, Tony Blatchford, Les Stoner, Jack Davey.