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News of Members

News of Members


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


CMVC choir members have been assisting other choirs recently.  On September 28, five members  sang at the Fairfield Hall on the Last Night of the Croydon Proms. They joined a combined choir from the Croydon Philharmonic Choir and the East Surrey Choral Society to sing a selection of classical favourites,  ranging from Verdi's Slaves Chorus to Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

The five CMVC singers were Dick Jones, Ted Mouat and Trevor Watkins (singing tenor) and Stewart Robinson and John Dale (singing bass). The five also enjoyed the rest of the concert which included a range  of orchestral pieces, mezzo soprano Juliette Pochin and 13-year-old violin sensation Rose Staples.

Last Night of the Croydon Proms


Then, last month, CMVC bass Peter Smith sang with the London Welsh Rugby Club Choir in the Netherlands at a commemoration service for 146 Welsh servicemen of the Fifty-Third Welsh division who died there during the liberation of s-Hertogenbosch in 1944.  It was, says Peter, "an honour and a humbling experience".

The Welsh choir sang at a wreath-laying ceremony at the division's memorial monument and joined a local choir to sing at a Liberation concert. It also visited the Arnhem Oosterbeck War Cemetery, where more than 1700 British and Allied servicemen are buried, including many from Croydon.

The ceremony at s-Hertogenbosch, near Arnhem


Retiring bass and choir founder member Dave Binge was presented with an engraved pewter tankard at choir rehearsal on May 2.  Dave retired from the choir after a sterling 37 years last November.  The presentation was made by choir master of ceremonies John Ward Turner, to generous applause from choir musical director Richard Hoyle and the assembled choir members.



David Binge, one of the choir’s longest serving members, retired from the choir this year. David joined in 1975 under the Musical Director and founder David Neil. He was a member of the Bass section although he originally joined the Second Tenors moving down to the Baritones.

David was Choir Secretary for many years retiring from that post in 2000. He is married to Margaret, a great supporter of the choir, who rarely misses any of the concerts; they have two sons John and Paul.

David worked as a computer engineer from the early days and must have witnessed the huge growth and advancement in this field from its infancy to the computerized world we live in today.

During his time with the choir, David has sung under the direction of five different musical directors: the founder David Neil, then Phil Ratcliff who was followed by Ozzie Arnold, then Richard Hoyle when Ozzie moved to South Wales.  Richard Hoyle was followed for a short while by Stephen Hope but then resumed his role as the current musical director.

Although retired from singing, David will still keep in contact with the choir as a social member and he has been made an Honorary Life Patron in recognition of his outstanding support to the choir.


JWT presents Dave wiith his tankard


MANSEL BARNES - 19 April 1929-23 March 2013

Choir members turned out in force to say farewell to Mansel Barnes at St John’s, Old Coulsdon, on Monday April 8.


Mansel, who died peacefully in his sleep on March 23 at the age of 83, was a top tenor with the CMVC for twelve years, delighting members with his sense of fun and occasional irreverence.  The choir sang three pieces in his memory at his funeral: The Rose, My Lord What a Morning, and Benedictus.

During the hour-long service, tributes were paid to Mansel by Ian Martin of Purley John Fisher Rugby Club and Mansel’s son Philip.  Ian spoke of Mansel’s enthusiasm, commitment and above all his passion for Welsh rugby – relishing Wales’ 30-3 victory over England a few days before he died.

Philip recalled his father’s career which included national service with the RAF and  working as an engineer and as teacher, together with his love for his children and grandchildren.   “He was my hero,” Philip said.

Mansel’s wife Mary and his daughter Veronica, both well known to choir members, were in attendance.  Veronica played the piano at the service along with her sister Ruth who played the cello.   Mansel's sister Priscilla read nine verses from the Book of Romans. 

Veronica said afterwards that she was pleased and moved that so many choir members had come to sing for her father.  "The choir sang wonderfully," Veronica said.  "You all did Dad proud."  

A full obituary of Mansel will appear on the website shortly.


Tribute to Mansel - the Welsh grandfather - at St John's 



This time it’s the big one!   Three years ago, choir bass Pete Smith impressed us all by cycling 280 miles from London to Paris in three days – raising £7,245 for the Royal Marsden Hospital’s cancer charity.

The longest ride - Pete is raising funds for the Royal Marsden Cancer Campaign.

This April Pete plans to go quite a lot further – from Land’s End to John O’Groats, no less.  The distance is 980 miles and he plans to cover it in twelve days – an average 82 miles a day!

Pete is appealing to choir members to sponsor his ride to help the Royal Marsden’s cancer research again.  He and his family are meeting the entire costs of his trip, so all contributions will go directly to the research fund.  He starts his ride on April 30.

Pete pumping it at the Cadence cycle centre, Crystal Palace


Pete has been practising for his ride on static machines at the Cadence cycle centre in Crystal Palace.  He covers epic stages of races such as the Tour de France which appear on a display screen and reaches speeds of 55kph - 33mph. 

Pete remains under the care of the Royal Marsden himself.   As can be seen, he is evidently in rude health, despite being on the hospital’s ‘watch and wait’ list, with four-weekly injections and periodic scans.  “I thought it was about time I took on a fresh challenge,” Pete says.

"Look - I'm going 33 miles an hour!"


A number of choir members have contributed to Pete’s appeal already.  The easiest way to join them is via Pete’s web-page –

Or you can send a cheque, payable to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, or cash, to Peter’s Ride, 6 Howden Road, London SE25 4AS. You can increase your donation by over 20% by including a Gift Aid declaration as follows:

Please treat the enclosed donation to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity as a Gift Aid donation.  I am a UK taxpayer and have paid an amount of income tax and/or capital gains tax at least equal to the tax reclaimed on my donations in the relevant tax year.    Name..........Address........Date.........


Up for the big one!  Pete finds the energy to smile during his hour-long static run

JWT x 15

Fans of our esteemed baritone John Ward Turner were delighted at a recent Westcombe Park rugby match to find no fewer than fifteen JWTs present at the same time.


Will the real JWT sit down please?

John, who still waves a mean flag at the age of 73, was running the line for Westcombe Park when a group of members and friends known as the Gumbos descended on the match, cheering his every move.

John, as you can see, took the jape in good spirit (though less so when half a dozen choir members, led by his old mucker Kim Ormond, repeated the trick at the last Sandilands rehearsal).

John, known as a talkative (i.e. lippy) scrum-half, played for Westcombe Park until 1987.  In his days as First XV captain he was renowned for his agile footwork and scored a number of spectacular tries. (John claims he cannot remember any of them and in any case he always selflessly passed the ball to his fly half.)

As an touch judge (rugby word for lino) he still keeps up with the game, although according to a fellow member who shall remain anonymous* some oppo players complain that he favours the home side – a charge that is entirely unjust and which John indignantly rejects.

So how long can our John keep going?  Watch this space!

(*St*w*art R*bins*n)

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