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Choir trip to St Davids


From 30 July to 4 August the choir undertook its first tour since the early 1990s. A week’s singing in
St Davids Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, was enjoyed by all participants of the trip.

We met on Monday morning, rather bleary eyed, in the Parish Centre car park at 7.00am and set about making sure we had all the luggage and participants loaded safely onto the minibus. A long journey followed and we arrived in St Davids, which is some 270 miles from Northampton, in time to get ready to sing our first service in the Cathedral. The choir quickly adjusted to the acoustics of a new building and to singing with a different organ. Evensong, featuring music by Stanford and Howells and the famous ‘shopping list’ Psalm 136, was clearly enjoyed by all who were there to listen. After a quick journey to the
St Davids Youth Hostel, which was our accommodation for the week, we had our first meal together, acclimatised and unpacked.

On Tuesday morning we awoke to heavy rain. A day’s activities in St Davids city centre were planned and these followed our early morning rehearsal in the Cathedral Song Room. We enjoyed a tour of the Cathedral with a very entertaining guide, learning more about the building as well as various bits of historical context about who St David was. After lunch many of us visited the ruins of the St Davids Bishop’s Palace, which must have been an amazing sight before it was destroyed. Later in the afternoon we whiled away our time with some pottery painting, some very imaginative designs being thought out and executed. Two special bits of pottery were painted to mark Jonathan’s birthday that day. All too soon it was time for Evensong again and we made our way to the Cathedral for some Batten and Walton with Callum Alger and Jonathan Starmer both playing the organ for parts of the service. Another wonderful evening meal followed and a chance to visit the beach at Whitesands Bay – with some taking the plunge into the very cold sea!

Wednesday dawned with yet more rain, even some which seemed to come in sideways! There was to be no service to sing on Wednesday but the weather meant a hastily revised timetable for the day’s activities. Mr Moore allowed everyone to have a lie-in, which met with popular approval(!). A decision was taken to go bowling in Milford Haven and the choristers piled onto the bus to depart, with some of the adults joining them. Others of the adults enjoyed other pursuits during the day with Sue Robertson even taking up body boarding! Following bowling and some lunch we travelled to Tenby for a look around the town and to do some shopping. We arrived back at the Youth Hostel to be greeted by two more than welcome sights: blazing sunshine and a Barbecue which had been laid on for us by Fr Nicholas and Helen. We had dinner al fresco and sang to Sue who had brought a cake to celebrate her birthday. Early bedtimes followed for all in preparation for a busy day on Thursday.

Thursday started with rain for a change. We travelled early to the Cathedral to rehearse and then onwards to Haverfordwest where we prepared for a lunchtime concert in the Parish Church. The choir gave an excellent performance of works for throughout the church year as well as turning their hand to some secular works and a piece by local composer William Mathias. All was most enthusiastically met by an audience of over 60 people and we were provided with tea and sandwiches to thank us. A look outside confirmed that the sun was shining and so the only option seemed to head straight for the beach at Whitesands. Sandcastle construction and a game of football were in full swing before it was time to return to the Youth Hostel to change and get ready for Evensong. The congregation at Evensong that day included some ‘groupies’ who had enjoyed the concert in Haverfordwest as well as many others who had heard our singing earlier in the week at the Cathedral – numbers were growing! An exciting mix of Dyson and Howells rounded off our busiest day of singing, with Emily Freeman excelling with her solo in the Magnificat. A quiet evening at the Youth Hostel was needed by all.

On Friday we awoke to rain. Following the morning rehearsal, we were pleased to learn that the boat trip planned for that afternoon had not been cancelled. Unfortunately, by the time Mr Moore had walked to the booking office to pay, it had! A tense wait followed with boarding times being pushed backward by an hour every hour. Eventually the all clear was given as the weather had abated slightly and we travelled down to St Justinians to board the boat for our trip around the islands just off the mainland. Sadly our trip was cancelled again just as we disembarked from the minibus so we went back to the Youth Hostel to relax and get ready for our last service of the week. A large congregation greeted the procession as we entered the Quire ready to sing Sumsion and Mathias’ exciting anthem Let the people praise thee, O God. The Canon in residence thanked us for our singing during the week and described the choir as being ‘of Cathedral standard’. The choir’s singing was certainly top rate at Evensong that day and all felt justly proud of the efforts made. After the service it was time for the obligatory photos of the choir. The occasion marked the last time the choir would sing together with that membership and we bade farewell to Jenny and Ciara Crosby who have left the choir and who travelled back to Northampton following that service.

After a brilliant roast dinner on Friday a number of presentations were made. Jonathan was given his birthday pottery and we thanked all who had worked so hard to make the week a success both musically and organisationally. After that it was time to start packing up and finding owners for the stray socks in the younger boys’ dormitory.

On Saturday morning we arose to dry weather! After breakfast final room checks were made and the luggage loaded onto the bus for the journey home. Final farewells were said to other choir leavers and we departed for the long journey back to Northampton. The bus was due to arrive back at the Parish Centre at 6.00pm, but Mr Moore had to apologise to parents for being late after the traffic lights at the White Elephant were on red and the bus pulled into the car park at 6.01pm.

It’s safe to say that the trip had been a success. Choir trips are important for the group that go on them but also for the church being represented. It’s certain that we have taken the name of St Matthew’s Church to pastures new and through our music making have thrilled many who may not have heard of the church, its choir, or its proud history before. We look forward to our trip to Portsmouth in August 2013 to do just that again.

Please find below a selection of photos.


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This is the title of a new CD of romantic organ music by Elgar and Bairstow recorded here at St Matthew's, and performed by Callum Alger.



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