2016 Chairman’s Report

It is once again a privilege to present my annual report to the AGM of the GCOCA.  This is tinged with a little sadness as this will be my last as your Chairman.  Mandy and I will be spending much more of our lives abroad in the future which will make it impossible for me properly to be able to fulfill my duties for the Association.

As is the custom, I shall look back over the past year and forward to our 2017 Reunion which will be on Saturday 16th September next year.

Your Committee has met three times since last year’s Reunion.  We have concentrated our efforts in the team, on preparation for this year’s Reunion – the  Friday night concert and today’s AGM, Evensong and Dinner at which our guest speaker will be Roy Massey, whom we are pleased will be accompanied by his wife, Ruth.

I recall that this time last year I made a plea for further help and support on the Committee.  Specific Committee support has been difficult to muster and its work has been left to the loyal few, ably and energetically supported by Jonathan Hope and the Cathedral Office team.  My thanks must be recorded here for them.  Additionally, my sincere thanks go to Elvin Young, John Heywood and Alan Iles for their continuing support and assistance on the Committee.  But looking ahead, I would be failing in my duty if I were not to state my real concerns regarding the Association going forward.  I know there are many Old Choristers who are within “working age” who would genuinely help if they had spare time in their lives and recently, good friends such as Matthew Cann and Andrew Douglas have been most supportive and engaged.  So, what of the future?  We all know how busy and full-on our lives have become.  Work demands more of our time and energy than ever before and family demands on top of these almost totally rule out time for extracurricular activities.  So, again I appeal to all Old Choristers who may now have more time on their hands to re-engage with the Association and help encourage the next generations of boy and girl choristers to become part of this Association which for over 50 years has supported the Cathedral and its music.

Communication, which includes marketing and PR will be key to growth and it is really encouraging to report that we have had very positive responses from young Old Choristers and their parents, some of whom will attend Evensong and Dinner today.  We will all make them most welcome.  The future of the GCOCA will depend on members who can find time to help by “doing things” to keep the Association afloat and fulfilling its objectives as set out in the original terms of reference which still need to be reviewed.

Thanks are also due to Colin Charter who has attended the National Federation events this year and given us splendid reports which are on our website for all to read.  The Association owes so much to Colin and of course, to his wonderful wife Alison, who sadly passed away during the past year.  Alison was such a rock for Colin and did so much for the Cathedral, the Choir and our Association.  She is greatly missed by us all, but we keep alive so many fond memories.

Last evening, the Cathedral Choir put on a beautiful recital for our Association.  We all recognise how much effort must have gone into the preparation for this and those of us who were present showed our appreciation most whole-heartedly.  Thanks must go to Adrian Partington, Jonathan Hope, the Lay Clerks and Choristers for a tremendous performance with Parry’s “I was Glad” being, for me the high spot.  Timing, dynamics and diction were simply perfect and the final chords were allowed to roll around the acoustic for a good ten seconds before our vigorous applause!

I was delighted to meet the Cathedral’s new Precentor last evening, who, having been in post for almost one week, expressed his best wishes for our Reunion and who very much would like to continue involvement with the Association.  I have also been in touch with Richard Latham and Mark Wildman who send their apologies for this evening along with their best wishes for a super event.

This year, we return to the traditional timing for our Reunion Dinner and it is encouraging to see that numbers are up on last year’s Lunch by 25%.

In conclusion, thank you for giving me the chance to serve the Association for the past three years:  we wish you all well for the future and many new and exciting beginnings for this much loved Association.

With all our best wishes.

John Balsdon
September 2016