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Former Addington Palace head chorister recalls happy memories of 1950s

PETER Hood, once head chorister at Addington Palace, wants a reunion. Here he recalls some happy memories... THE name of Gareth Malone will, I am sure, be well known to you as the man who has created choirs in schools, places of work and, most famously, with the Military Wives.

Thanks to television, Gareth is clearly the choirmaster of today.

Back in the late 1950s, however, the choirmaster of the day was Mr Martin J R How.

Mr How created, trained and nurtured the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) Headquarters' Choir based at Addington Palace.

I first encountered Martin, or 'Mr How' as he was to us in those days, when, at the age of nine, I was singing in assembly at Winton House School.

As we sang, this rather strange figure walked between the lines of boys, stooping so that his ear was on a level with our mouths, and, having listened intently to us all, made his selection.

The chosen few were then inducted into the choir at Addington Palace and a very wonderful and exciting period of our lives began.

Addington Palace became our spiritual home and Martin became our guide and mentor.

As the headquarters of the RSCM, Addington Palace was primarily a music college for trainee organists and choirmasters who came from all over the world to study there.

In order that a full choir could be created, featuring the voices of trebles alongside the altos, tenors and basses, boys were recruited from local schools and local church choirs, including Winton House, Elmhurst, Gilbert Scott, St Mildred's in Addiscombe, St John's in Selsdon and St Mary's in Addington Village.

The recruiting was just the start for Martin; once he had found the voices with potential, he then went on to fashion us into a wonderful choir – a choir which not only sang at regular weekly Evensong services in the chapel at Addington Palace, but which was also invited to sing in many cathedrals and at Lambeth Palace.

We also featured in a number of television programmes.

But for me, the pinnacle of my career as a choirboy came in 1963, when, as head chorister, I led the choir into Westminster Abbey, and, later that year, was presented to Her Majesty the Queen when she made a visit to Addington Palace.

But, the period that I am particularly wishing to focus on is 1955 to 1960.

These were the years when Martin How not only created a celebrated choir at Addington Palace, but also, with the help of Lindsay Colquhoun, a music student from Australia, established the RSCM Scout Troop.

A number of us from that era have stayed in touch with Martin or have recently made contact. These include Colin Creed, Tony Clarke, Harry King, Richard Barnes, Graham Bill, Graham Madeley and me – Peter Hood.

But we would now like to track down as many as possible of the choristers whom we remember from those days, in order to invite them to attend a grand reunion lunch at Addington Palace next spring; a lunch at which Martin will be our guest of honour.

If any reader was in the RSCM Headquarters' Choir between 1955 and 1960 then please get in touch with me – pnrhood@hotmail.co.uk.

Also, if anyone knows a family member, friend or neighbour who was in the choir, I'd similarly like to hear from you.

To jog memories, below is a list of "boys" we'd like to make contact with. I have also noted the secondary schools that they attended below.

John Newnham Derek Cork, Raymond Ghent, Melvyn Turtell, Adrian Lucas Selhurst Geoffrey King, Martin Skeet Shirley Secondary John Eages, Paul Rangecroft, (who worked for Crosse and Blackwell and became 'Paul' of 'Paul and the Alpines') Whitgift John Woodland, Robin and Simon Jenkin (twins), Harvey Cousins, David Cargill, David Collingham , John Halliday, Aldwyn Wills. John Ruskin David Lewsey, Raymond Brett, Malcolm Ford, Graham Telfer, Brian Weller. Trinity Peter Bennett, Christopher Chambers, Laurie King, Howard Norman, Colin Sell. The Others Peter Shepherd, Malcolm Cunningham, Nigel Carter, Gerald Hargreaves (Hawesdown and Scouts), Martin Clifton-Everest, Graham Feakins, Nicholas Pairaudeau, John Ellis, Michael Grierson (Heath Clark), Richard Stevens, David Stevens, Andrew Stubbs (Scouts), Jeremy Target, Ian Pascall, Stuart Cowell (Scouts), Michael Rogers, Roderick Thompson, Nigel Whittaker, Derek Freebury, Stephen Webber, Michael Martin (Archbishop Tennyson and Scouts), Peter Blagden (Riddlesdown), Stephen Duerr, Philip Crockford, Adrian Crowley (Ashburton and Scouts), Peter Wilson (Scouts), Christopher Facey (Scouts), Jimmy Watkins, Roger Durstan (Wells Cathedral School and Selhurst School of Performing Arts),Jeremy Targett, Melvyn Griffiths, Stuart Davies, Simon Weedon, Richard McColvin, Derek Freebury, Andrew Carrick-Smith, Ronnie Songhurst, Fred Songhurst, and Dougie Brasset.

Former Addington Palace head chorister recalls happy memories of 1950s

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