A stalwart chorister who spent decades ‘hiding in the back row’ of the choir will be taking centre stage for the first time in his life this weekend - at the age of 87.
Ted Clark, of Stirling Avenue in New Cubbington, was a member of what is now the City of Coventry Male Voice Choir for 65 years.
But he will be making his public debut as a soloist when he gives a rendition of one of his favourite songs - The Vagabond by Vaughn Williams - in the English Song section of the Leamington Spa Competitive Festival at Dale Street Methodist Church in Leamington tomorrow (Saturday).
Mr Clark, a bass baritone, said: “I have been hiding in the back row of a choir and at the ripe old age of 87 I still have plenty of voice left in me, so we shall see what happens.
“I’m not nervous yet but I may be a bit apprehensive on the day.
“But my teacher has been terrific and tells me I have nothing to worry about.”
Mr Clark joined the Coventry choir, when it was called Sphinx, in 1952.
Over the years he and his fellow choristers won three Eisteddfods in Wales, beating 31 Welsh Voice Choirs in the process.
Mr Clark said: “Singing in a choir is the best team game of them all whether you’re aged nine or 90.
“You can take 30 very ordinary vocalists and providing they sing in tune and follow and do what the conductor tells them they can make a very acceptable noise.
“‘Pavarottis’ are not welcome because they stick out like sore thumbs.”
With his hearing getting progressively worse, meaning he was not able to keep in time with fellow choristers, Mr Clark decided to retire from the Coventry choir.
Not to be disheartened, he called upon the help of his friend Rosalind Roberts - a former professional soprano, who teaches singing at Warwick University.
He also remains a member of the choir at St Mary’s Church in Cubbington for which his wife Joan also used to sing.
Mr Clark said: “Singing is a very muscular activity which keeps you fit.
“You can’t do it while you are poorly.
“It is just such a joy.”
Mr Clark has been retired for 27 years and was formerly a lecturer of general studies at Mid-Warwickshire College, Leamington.
He has two children, Kate and Jonathan and three grand- children Anna, Tom and Beth.
He said his favourite singer is Sir Thomas Allen, the English operatic baritone, and his favourite ‘modern pop song’ is Jerome Kerns’ The Way You Look Tonight, written in the 1930s.
*** The Leamington Spa Competitive Festival aims to promote and encourage the study and practice of the ‘arts of music, dance, and speech and drama’ in all their branches.
Events have been taking place this week and will continue at various venues around the town including The Kingsley school, Holy Trinity Church, and the sydni Centre for the rest of the month up to July 1.
The festival is a registered charity .
For more information about the festival , results, event locations times and adjudicators.
Visit www.leamcompfest.co.uk ***