News of Members

Peter talks to the Lords

OCTOBER 12: Choir bass Peter Smith gave evidence yesterday at the House of Lords to a commission investigating the benefits of music for dementia patients.  Peter, who suffers from dementia himself, testified passionately about how singing brings thrilling physical sensations, aids memory, and inspires a sense of fellowship with other choir members – and he name-checked the Croydon Male Voice Choir while doing so.

Peter at the House of Lords

Peter was one of four speakers at a two-hour session chaired by Baroness Sally Greengross, chair of the Commission on Dementia and Music.   Apart from singing with CMVC, Peter described attending two nine-week Singing for the Brain courses, where dementia patients spend an hour singing old favourites such as Danny Boy and Delilah. 

He told the commission members they would find it “uplifting and inspiring” if they attended a session.  Peter also described taking part in a choir which sang at the Alzheimer’s Society candlelit Christmas Service at Southwark Cathedral – another “truly uplifting experience”.

Peter – who admitted he still could not read music properly, despite being a choir and altar boy – also told of concerts and performances in local churches, cathedrals and overseas, many with CMVC.  “Remembering words for public performances helps keep my brain active and improves my memory, mitigating problems remembering scores which would be impossible if singing alone.”

Peter received resounding applause for his contribution – the only speaker to do so.   He said afterwards: "The opportunity to give evidence in the House of Lords was very satisfying, and I hope that being open in that way will help others. I was most gratified to be the only speaker to receive a round of applause - really moving!"





Choir member George Young has just reached a remarkable landmark.  It is now sixty years since the Revd George Young, as he is also known, was ordained as a minister in the Anglican church.  In that time he has been a vicar in a range of locations, including Everton, Bolton, Buckinghamshire, Tyneside and Beckenham, where his last appointment was at St John’s in Eden Park Road.

George and Margaret - depicted in Southwark Diocese newspaper

Although theoretically retired for the past 23 years, George has been active in the leadership team of Christ Church in South Nutfield.  Until he and his wife Margaret have also been running Opportunities Through Trade, a company selling fair-trade goods both direct to the public and via local churches.  Christ Church celebrated George’s remarkable landmark with a special service followed by a bring-and-share lunch.

George says: “The celebration was a joyful occasion in which we tried hard to ensure the focus was on God’s faithfulness rather than on me. After all, we only reached this landmark because I lived long enough!”

George, a top tenor, joined the choir five years ago.  He says: “I enjoy the breadth of the repertoire and the camaraderie.”


During a recent Baltic cruise, second tenor Trevor Watkins and his wife Angela visited Helsinki, capital of Finland.  They went to see one of the city’s most celebrated landmarks, the Sibelius Monument, and learned the interesting story behind it.

The Sibelius monument in Helsinki


The monument, which resulted from a public fundraising campaign and a competition in 1961-62, is the work of Finnish sculptor Eila Hiltunen.  Initially a purely abstract composition reminiscent of a collection of organ pipes, the piece was the subject of heated debate when it was created. Sibelius did not actually compose for the organ; and many Finnish people felt that their most famous composer and national hero deserved better.  In particular they wanted a figurative element and Hiltunen was eventually commissioned to add a depiction of Sibelius’ face which shows him as he was around 1910, when he was at the height of his creative powers.

Head of Sibelius - added after protests

t is more than fifty years since the unveiling of the monument and the arguments that surrounded its birth have long been forgotten.  It is now much loved by Finns and much visited by tourists.  A scaled down version can be found outside the UNESCO Palace in Paris, and full-size elements used during the design stand outside the United Nations building in New York and in Montreal.

Since 2011, Finland has celebrated Sibelius’ birthday, 8 December, with a flag day.  This year will see a number of events to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth, including tribute concerts at this year’s Proms, attended by several CMVC members.  No doubt CMVC will observe the occasion with an especially rousing rendition of Finlandia during our concert on 10 December.

Signature of artist, Eila Hiltunen.

Report and photographs by Trevor Watkins



Choir veteran George Stevens and his wife Dot celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary at Shirley Park Golf Club on Saturday October 4.  Guests included George's fellow top tenors and other close friends from the choir, as well as family and friends from elsewhere.

George and Dot cut the cake

The CMVC contingent sang a version of When I’m Sixty-four, especially adapted by choir chair Kimball Ormond.  The last three lines read:

You can knit a sweater sitting by the fire, while Thursday evenings I go to the choir.

Doing the garden, digging up weeds, who could ask for any more

I love that you need me and you still feed me after sixty years and more.

George serenaded Dot with If, the song he performed several decades ago when he auditioned for the tv show Opportunity Knocks.   “They gave all the signs of being as much in love as sixty years ago,” one guest said.

CMVC members serenade the happy couple (Photos JWT)

Choir has Christmas fun!

DECEMBER 13 2016: The Croydon choir celebrated Christmas with two fine concerts in the past three days.    The choir sang to the usual intimate audience at Merstham Village Hall on Thursday, then packed in the crowds for its traditional Croydon Welsh concert at Shirley Methodist Church on Saturday.  There was also a presentation to two retiring choir stalwarts.

Dick and Pauline Diplock receive choir photo from Richard Hoyle


A select choir formed of twelve members of CMVC helped celebrate the re-opening of the centre for the blind and partially sighted in Wellesley Road, Croydon, on September 11.

The centre, Bedford Hall, hq of the Croydon Voluntary Association for the Blind, had been closed for refurbishment. The CMVC twelve, who included three members of each section, led by veteran bass Nev Clark, sang a selection of songs from the choir’s après repertoire, together with an adaptation of We’ll Keep a Welcome penned by Nev himself.

The choir twelve perform (photo Rita Sandland)

The audience, who included Croydon's new Labour mayor, Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed from Broad Green, was highly appreciative and gave prolonged applause. The mayor said she would attend a CMVC concert soon, as did the chair and director of the CVAB.

Keith Sandland, CMVC baritone who recruited the choir for the occasion, said afterwards that he had been “inundated with compliments about our singing.” One blind person told him she thought that there must have been about forty singers on stage – and was astonished to learn there were only twelve.

Rita Sandland, a voluntary worker at the CVAB, was equally delighted – and sold four copies of the choir’s latest CD which had been lying on a nearby table. Keith has passed on thanks from the association director “to everyone who turned up and sang”.

Croydon's new Labour mayor (centre) said she enjoyed the singing

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