Wandsworth School Choir Reunion 2019

It was great to see so many former choir members at this years’ reunion. We received 69 bookings, which was a 50% increase on last year. It is amazing to think that the choir ceased to exist about 36 years ago. The choir began its “public performance era” when 30 of us auditioned in front of Wilhelm Pitz in Ghandi Hall, Fitzroy Square for Carmina Burana in 1965. It then continued for a remarkable period of 20 years under Russell Burgess, and then after his death under Glyn Harvey, who was able to join us this year.

The eldest members of the choir present included George Willis 1952-1959 and David Hyde 1952-1957. The “newest” members present were Nick Patience 1980-87 and Simon Hodder. It was good as always to have both former staff with us, as well as pupils, and a delight to have Andy Smetham, our head teacher, with us! We were also pleased to have three attending from overseas: Jonathan Smith from France; Richard Wyce from Canada and Shaun Islip from Australia.

We have been holding Reunions since 1997 and this one was particularly poignant being 40 years since Russell died – that most remarkable man who played such a significant part in “forming” most of us as individuals and introducing us to the wonder of music. In addition, in July this year Ray Pritchard, organiser of all previous reunions, sadly died unexpectedly. So this years’ reunion was a tribute to Russell’s memory and to Ray’s hard work over previous years keeping us all together and in touch.

We are very grateful to Ray who a couple of years ago let me have a copy of his mailing list and so we have been able to continue this tradition. We are also most grateful to the Trustees of the Old Wandsworthians Memorial Trust, especially Les Herbert, for their support, encouragement and generous grant as always towards the reunion dinner. Thanks are due also to Rob Smith who has been a sounding board and helped plan the evening with me, not least by sourcing the booze!

There was a clear desire for our reunions to continue and the date for 2020 has been pencilled in for 10 October but this is subject to confirmation. Please would former choir members ensure they let me have updated contact details especially email, but also address and mobile phone.

We have a choir Facebook Group, Wandsworth School Boys’ Choir, with over 140 members, any former choir member on Facebook is encouraged to join this group, it is an excellent place where members share memories, news, photographs and other memorabilia. Chris Tingley in particular is a valued member of the group regularly unearthing references to the choir on the internet.

Who would have thought all those years ago, that we would still be gathering as a group of friends – it is a real joy and pleasure for all involved. See you in 2020.

Martin Saxby

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