Howard Renwick Obituary

It is with great sadness that Hadley Orpheus choristers mark the passing of our Assistant Musical Director Howard Renwick on 22nd June 2018

Howard was born into a Salvation Army family in September 1936 and remained a staunch Salvationist throughout his life.  His musical career started  early  and  over the years encompassed playing and rising to bandleader of the Oakengates Salvation Army Band, Musical Director of the RAF Cosford Choral society and was involved in  many other musical productions all of which demonstrated his excellent musicianship.

Howard answered the call from Hadley Orpheus  for a new Musical Director following the late Bill Holyhead’s decision to step down some 20 years ago and brought his own unique outlook to the choir, introducing more modern music to complement the traditional pieces already  in our repertoire. (He always had a soft spot for the piece Nirvana!!)

In the  the 10 years or so under his Directorship, we had several weekend trips  away, notably Eastbourne in 2000, Sandown in 2002 and Weymouth in 2005, and it was through Howard that we began our association, with the Oakengates Salvation Army band, an association which remains in place today

When Howard decided to ‘put down the baton’ at the Orpheus,  it was again through his connections with the Salvation Army that he introduced  Robyn Davies to the choir, once again demonstrating his excellent musical judgement

After a few months rest from the Orpheus, Howard returned to us, as Assistant Musical Director working closely with Robyn and also singing in the Baritone line.

During split rehearsals Robyn would take the Tenor group while Howard and Nykko would take the Basses.  This gave Howard the opportunity to tell some of his “Groan” jokes , and there was always much laughter alongside the learning, but Howards commitment to thoroughly learning the music was never far away, he wanted the music to be sung with discipline and feeling  and worked both himself and the choristers hard to successfully achieve this result.

Howard will be greatly missed by everyone at the Hadley Orpheus, the Orpheus committee, Robyn and Nykko, his fellow choristers, the ladies committee and everyone who has supported and sung with the Choir over the last twenty years.

We can only say thank you and goodbye to a great musician and gentle man

May 2018


We started 2018 after a well earned rest, to a few weeks of learning.

2017 was so busy, with performing at over 30 events and concerts which raised near £10,000 for charities, that there was little time to spend learning new music.  The choir rehearsals can be quite intense but splitting into parts in separate rooms we can learn much more quickly and the new pieces can already be heard in our concerts.

In February the Choir, together with guests, supported Christians Against Poverty (CAP) at All Saints Church, Wellington.  The Orpheus, The Salvation Army Band from Oakengates, Soloist Sarah Dukes and the Puppet Theatre put together a wonderful programme of music and theatre.  In March we tried the new venue at The Wakes in Oakengates to support the Mayor of Telford, Steve Reynolds’ charity The Severn Hospice.   Rotary Young Musician, Neha Patnaik was our guest soloist.  She was singing the following day in the District Competition in Wolverhampton.

The Choir sang with the local schools at a postponed Christmas Concert.  No we didn’t sing Carols but made the concert a celebration of singing.  The two school choirs from Apley Wood and Millbrook sang beautifully and it is always a great pleasure to work with them.  On the last day of term a smaller group from the Orpheus visited the Bridge School at the Hadley Learning Community to encourage the children to sing and take part.  We have visited The Bridge School several times and it is one of the highlights of our year.

April saw us organising an afternoon workshop.  Four potential members joined and are still attending rehearsals.  The St Georges Day Concert took place again at the Hadley Methodist Church.  This year our guest was “Flutella”, a Flute quartet which played a varied programme.  We hear flutes being played as solo instruments or part of a band but to hear four flutes together was quite different and beautiful.  I’m sure we will invite them again to join us.

We are looking forward to concerts in The Anstice, Madeley, St Georges Church Telford, Holy Trinity Oakengates and the Town Hall Birmingham just to mention a few venues and we are also making a new CD in September.  This should be available in time for Christmas Presents!  Watch this space.


July 2017

During the first half of 2017, the activities of the Choir have been just as hectic as in the previous year.
January 28th saw us singing at the Old Hall School, Wellington, together with the school choir, raising funds for Maninplace, a refuge for the homeless in Telford, then on 18th February, we appeared at Wellington Methodist Church together with the Brewood Singers, raising funds for the Mayor of Telford’s charities. Four weeks later saw us at All Saints Church, Wellington with Random Brass, raising funds for the Christian’s against poverty charity. April 23rd saw us at Hadley Methodist Church in a concert with Severn Harmony for a St George’s Day event, and on 13th May we appeared with J. M. Brass at Abraham Darby School, Madeley for Cancer Charities.
We took part in the entertainment at the Wellington Summer Fayre on 10thJune, and on the 24th, we were at the recently re-furbished Anstice Hall, Madeley. July 8th saw us at St George’s Church, Telford for their annual concert, when we were joined by The Darby Singers, and on the 11th, we were back at Hadley Methodist Church for the annual summer concert with pupils from the Hadley Learning Community.
19th July saw us in The Great Hall of Birmingham University, where we joined forces with members of the English Association of Male Voice Choirs for their annual charity concert.
Following this busy first half of 2017, we have no respite, with at least 16 more engagements before the end of the year.
One of the highlights of this year to date has been our association with the Bridge School, Hadley, (our current chosen charity). The school caters for children and young persons aged between 2 and 19 who have special needs requirements. It is a pleasure to see these children really enjoying their music and the interaction with the choir, and we feel it a privilege to associate ourselves in helping with their education.
At our AGM in February, Ian Martin stepped down from the Treasurer’s position, having looked after our finances for the last 34 years. He is replaced by David Collington and Alex Cunningham, who are now joint Treasurers. Ian was presented with a certificate and a bottle of scotch and was thanked for his loyal service to the choir.
Sadly, we have lost our longest serving choir member, Peter Cooile, who joined us in the mid 1950’s. He passed away in May after a long illness. A virtually full choir attended and sang at his funeral on 24th May at St Andrew’s Church, Shifnal. Peter, with his rich bass voice and his banter with Robyn, our Musical Director, will be missed by all those involved with the choir, and our thoughts and prayers are with his widow Muriel and the rest of the family.

June 2016

The second half of 2016 has seen a great deal of activity in the life of the Choir. St. George’s Church in Telford was the venue on 9th July, where we sang in a joint concert with The Darby Singers. This was followed by a joint concert in Hadley Methodist Church on 12th July, together with local schools. On 14th August a group from the Choir visited Barclay Lodge Sheltered Dwellings in Donnington, where we helped celebrate the 100th birthday of Mrs Addison, who’s father was a member of the Choir almost 100 years ago, and on 20th August, we helped celebrate the Golden Wedding Anniversary of our treasurer, Ian Martin & his wife Judy, who is a member of our ladies committee, with a Charity Concert at Harper Adams Agricultural University, which raised £1,550 for the Hope House Children’s Hospice, which is also the Choir’s chosen charity for 2016. The following week, we sang at a wedding at Hadley Parish Church.
Our next outing was a long weekend away in Bournemouth with members, family and friends. We sang in a concert on 10th September at Boscombe Salvation Army Citadel, and the following day, visited Swanage, with a ride on the Swanage Steam Railway, culminating in an impromptu sing-a-long on the platform of Swanage Station. A thoroughly enjoyable weekend away!
The 24th September saw us at Little Wenlock Church, and on 8th October, we sang in a joint concert with The Elcock Reisen Jackfield Band at St Michael’s Church, Madeley.
We have just completed our ‘main event’ of the year, which was a 7 hour sing-a-thon, held in our rehearsal venue at Castle Farm, Hadley. We were raising money again for Hope House, and to date, it looks as though we should reach the £3,000 mark or thereabouts. A great deal of effort went into staging this event. Everyone should be congratulated for their contribution to a successful day.
We are now entering the Christmas period, when visits will be made to several Care Homes in the area to entertain residents, together with our annual input to the annual Telford Civic Carol Service at The Place, Oakengates.
Over the past few months, we have had a few changes in Choir Personnel. Sadly, we lost 1st Bass Ted Jones who passed away after a long illness, and the Choir paid tribute at his funeral at Telford Crematorium. Dan Clark, Geoff May and our longest serving member, Peter Cooile are not too well at the moment, so we wish them well.
We welcome 3 new members, 1st Bass Chris Thompson, and 2nd Bass’s Jim Handley and Chas Kay. We hope they enjoy a long association with the Choir.