In the beginning . . .
A small advert in a local paper in 1977 attracted a group of like-minded men to a meeting and rehearsals soon began in a room above Neptune’s Hall, a hostelry overlooking the harbour in Broadstairs.
It is perhaps not surprising that the prime mover in the formation of the Choir was an itinerant Welshman. Trevor Evans, a top tenor with a more than passing resemblance to the late Harry Secombe, became the first Chairman with Roy Woodhams and Dick Cook musical director and accompanist respectively. The honour of President was later bestowed on Jack Warner, of ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ fame who was a Broadstairs resident.
The Choir drifted for a year or so, having a limited repertoire and performing concerts where singers often outnumbered the audience. It was not surprising, therefore, that initial enthusiasm waned and membership dropped to ten, with as little as four attending some rehearsals.
At this point the Choir could easily have disbanded, but the attendance of some members at a weekend in Birmingham, which included a concert by the Canoldir Choir, of which Trevor Evans had been a member, resulted in enthusiasm being rekindled.
At this time Trevor Evans Jnr. was cajoled into taking on the role of musical director. Trevor had been a founder member of the Choir, singing sweetly in the Second Tenor section. These were small beginnings, but Trevor’s period as conductor saw a wider range of music being tackled and membership began to increase once again.
This was a significant point in the Choir’s development
and another was reached in 1985 when the members were asked to represent Broadstairs in a twinning ceremony with Wattignies in France, which boasted a strong mixed choir. Not only did both groups join in song, but representatives from a further choir near Cologne were also present and expressed an interest in linking with a similar group in England. There followed a meeting at Thanet Technical College and thus began TMVC’s links with Europe.
A reciprocal invitation to Germany was readily accepted and here choirs from France and Italy were met and more friendships forged. The ‘family’ was growing.
A further invitation to France in 1987 saw 64 members and guests surviving the worst storm to hit Kent for 200 years as they picked their way through tree-strewn roads to Dover and eventually to Calais and Lille for a Gala concert.
The time had obviously come for Thanet to host a festival and 1990 saw the birth of ‘Harmony in Europe’, with guests travelling from France, Italy and Germany. A superb concert was held at St Lawrence College and the hard work of all the members and their partners proved to be well worthwhile as compliments flowed freely about a marvellous weekend of friendship.
Since then many enjoyable times have been had under the ‘Harmony in Europe’ banner, including returns to Thanet in both 2001 and 2010. On both occasions, the Main Hall at the Winter Gardens in Margate saw over 1000 people enjoy the singing.
Whilst the globetrotting had been going on the Choir’s reputation had been growing at home. With members
numbering in excess of 50, more music was tackled with great success and the Choir even had the honour of taking part in the VE Day celebrations at Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen.
More locally, many charitable organisations have benefited from our efforts with donations in excess of £3000 being made from each of the last three Christmas concerts alone.