The Pembroke & District Male Voice Choir story so far

Anyone attempting to write a history of an organisation would necessarily have to pay tribute to the original founders and their efforts to establish and bring to life something they deeply believed in. Thus it must be for those re-telling the story of Pembroke & District Male Voice Choir and first tribute must go to the compiler of the original history, on which this edition is based, namely the late J Gordon Davies, former President. No one man can be the most important but Gordon Davies can be considered a major contributor to the choir's story.

No other persons effect and influence to this day over the choir, is stronger than the founding conductor the late Mr WP (“Bill”) Lewis MBE, “The Boss” as he is fondly remembered, conducted our choir for over 47years. Upon his death in 1999, the Deputy Conductor, David Gwynn took over the reins and then W P's Daughter, Chris Lloyd until she retired in 2021.  

However let us not get too far ahead of the tale at this point. 

The choirs beginnings started with an advert in a local paper asking generally that those with an interest in forming a male voice choir attend a meeting in the No 9 Vestry of Wesley Chapel Tuesday 14th October 1952. Mr AV Rees Presided. Enthusiasm was such that the first officers were appointed, AV Rees - Chairman. HE Davies - Secretary, FG Lloyd - Treasurer and Owen Jones- Music Secretary.

In October 1952, following the inaugural meeting, Mr W P Lewis was appointed as the Conductor, with Mrs Ruby Sudbury as Accompanist.

Formed originally as Pembroke Borough MVC (the choir had to change its name to its present one when Pembroke lost its borough status).  

On the 28th March 1953, the Choir performed their first concert in Bethel Chapel, St Florence, which was followed by the first concert in Pembroke Dock at Bethel Chapel, in aid of the victims of the East Coast Flood disaster. The admission was 2 shillings with programmes at 3d.

 The choir over the years has sung a vast repertoire in many languages and modern times demand modern treatment of different types of music. Choirs have to respond accordingly.

Visits have been made to Choirs in this Country and abroad. In addition, the choir takes part in the Massed Male Voice Concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, London, every 3 years or so.

Since its inception, the choir have performed at various venues in support of good causes and are proud that they do not make a charge for their services. However, they are grateful for the financial support received from their Vice Presidents and previous and current sponsors. 

As Pembroke & District Male Voice Choir developed and changed over the years so inevitably did personnel, people coming and going due to age, personal circumstances, death intervening often. These changes too run to many pages, though many choristers and members of the musical team have served the choir for a considerable length of time and are still serving today.  During the mid to late sixties however major changes in society and social activities were taking place and this was reflected within the choir with a drastic drop of chorister numbers into the low twenties. No Male Voice Choir can perform well on these numbers and retain its balance and quality, therefore the officers knew that something needed to be done and done urgently. Accordingly an AGM was called where 3 possibilities were advanced to the attendees: 

  1. A big push to encourage new or former members to join
  2. Disband
  3. Invite Ladies to join and form a mixed choir

The meeting decided a final effort would be made over the following month to encourage new and old members to join before making a final decision on the fate of the choir. Fortunately the efforts of those involved were rewarded with enough members to continue and the choir future was secured and has been since that time. A deep debt of gratitude is owed by all with an interest in the choir to those whose efforts made continuation as a male voice choir possible. 

New Officers were elected at this decisive, not to say momentous, meeting and it is felt that they deserve reporting here: 

President-Mr S Neale, Chairman- Mr Wilfred John, Vice Chairman-Mr J Gibby, Secretary-Mr S Skone,  Assistant Secretarys-Mr C Allen and Mr C Cray, Treasurer-Mr R Collins, Conductor-Mr WP Lewis, Assistant Conductor-Mr HL Davies, Accompanist-Mr H Trevena, Assistant Accompanist Mrs Christine Lloyd, Chaplain- Rev D McIntyre, Librarians- Mr Owen Jones and Mr A Rees. 

From this basis of security the choir went on to make notable marks and musical history at a host of venues and with a variety of people famous in their fields. That contribution comes not only from strong chorister representation at every concert but also through the efforts of our then Secretary, Mr Phil Lloyd.  

Phil occupied a prominent place on the Committee of the Welsh Association of MVCs. At concert times he was in charge of all chorister staging arrangements and took the role of MC on the night of the event. When the choir travelled to London for the concert at the Royal Albert Hall,  he seemed to be able to find time to arrange accommodation and transport for up to four coach loads of families and supporters of P&DMVC. Phil retired from the association in 2018 after 30 years service.

The notable events list of course excludes the many hundreds of concerts performed P&DMVC in support of local good causes, charities and other fund raising events that may impact their community.  It is worth repeating here that no chorister, musical team member or choir official charges the choir or event holders for their services and the choir as a whole pays its own expenses whenever and wherever they are asked to perform. Donations and sponsorship do appear at times but are never requested. 

Should the reader feel that they would like to be involved in so worthwhile an organisation then they can contact the Secretary via the Web site to express and progress that interest. A voice test is normally given when attending practice for the first time but this is merely to determine what section of the existing four within the choir would best fit the voice range of the applicant. New blood is essential so never think “I cannot sing.”  The primary aim of all choristers is to enjoy oneself through the music whilst being a part of a team that produces something special for  those who listen at concerts. What more laudable aim could there be.

Contact our Secretary: Dean Maiden on 07779 905995