LOOKING BACK - May 8 edition

An early picture of Rugby Home Guard Choir
An early picture of Rugby Home Guard Choir
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Rugby Home Guard Choir

Rugby Male Voice Choir celebrates its 70th anniversary with a concert at St Andrew’s Parish Church on Saturday, June 7.

This is an early photograph of the choir, taken at Lawrence Sheriff School Hall where they rehearsed, although the exact date isn’t known.

The only eight who can be named are: (Back row): ?, Hill, Reg Coles, ?, ?, ?. (Middle) ?, W Hockliffe (sp.?), ?, ?, ?, ?, Ted Newitt, Jack Ward. (Front) Jim Minton, Stan Appleby, Cyril Chaplain, ?, ?, ?, ?. Can anyone help with any others?

The choir began life on May 20, 1944 when a small concert party formed by the Home Guard performed in the Co-operative Hall as part of Rugby’s ‘Salute the Soldier’ week.
Under the direction of Major Chaplain they performed eight items and were so well received it was suggested the choir should continue. Official approval was granted for the formation of the Home Guard Choir, provided it did not interfere with Home Guard duties. 
An inaugural meeting on July 24 that year was held to formalise the choir and the committee was formed with all original participants of that first concert. They were Maj C.H. Chaplain (MD and Chairman); Sgt S.S. Appleby; Pte K.M.Henderson; Sgt F.A. Newitt; Sgt G.J.W. Hill; Cpl E.A. Shirley; Sgt A.B. Spencer; Cpl J Watson, Cpl J. Minton, Sgt D.S. Stewart & Pte Worship.

Members of the Civil Defence were invited to join and the choir became The Rugby Home Guard and Civil Defence Choir. As the Choir grew in size it was eventually invited to broadcast on Midlands Region Radio.

The name was deemed to be too long for the Radio Times and it was renamed ‘Rugby Men’s Choir’ and it broadcast on three occasions.

Cyril Chaplain retired as Musical Director in 1965 passing over the baton to Bill Spence.

Remarkably the choir has only had four other musical directors Gwen Proudlock, Robert Green, Kevin Downham and currently Mike Minton, who is the son of Cpl Jim Minton who was one of the founder members of the choir.

In Gwen Proudlock’s term it became Rugby Male Voice Choir, a title that had been used in the 1930s but that original choir had folded.

Rugby Male Voice choir has continued for the past 70 years, providing a major musical contribution to the local community, with public concerts and also presentations in hospitals and residential homes. The choir responds to requests for support in concerts organised by others and many thousands of pounds have been raised for various charitable appeals.

The choir is a Registered Charity, its Presidency being held by the Mayor of Rugby. In recognition of its long-standing contribution to the community the Choir has been given permission to incorporate the town coat of arms in blazers, jumper and ties.

More information on: www.rugbymalevoicechoir.com