On Thursday August 8th the coach left Treherbert at 7.15am, meandering through the Rhondda Fawr before reaching the BBC Studios in Llandaff at 8.45am. With fifty three choristers on board, plus our accompanist Helen Roberts, the touring party headed north. With plenty of fun, chatter excitement and enjoyment on board, the bus journey seemed to fly as choristers looked forward to all that the weekend had in store. The driver, Chris, was a calm, humourous and incredibly helpful individual and obviously nothing was too much trouble for him. As the hours passed the choristers grew restless for a drink or two and by 1pm had reached a familiar town in Warrington. Memories of the many concerts given at the Parr Hall came flooding back as the bus made its way into the town centre and found a very convenient Wetherspoons pub called The Friar Penketh. With more than an hour to themselves choristers were suitably refreshed with drinks and food before continuing the long journey ahead.
The second half of the trip was filled with fun as choristers enjoyed a fifty-question quiz organised by Dennis Young. With everyone paying £1.00 each to participate, the teams of five battled it out for the top prize which was won by David Bebb's team with an impressive score. Following the quiz more entertainment was had with Roger Morse's magnetic bingo board. Again choristers digged deep into the pockets and paid for bingo tickets with plenty of “houseys!” called and prizes to be won. The journey literally flew and before long the travellers were enjoying the beautiful landscapes of the Lake District and crossing the border into Scotland. It was at 6pm, almost eleven hours after starting their journey, that the choristers reached the pretty borders town of Galashiels and reached their destination, the Jean Muir Student Village.
With only an hour to spare, the choristers gathered in the main foyer of the building dressed in a new piece of Choir attire, a lovely red touring polo shirt courtesy of Wooden Spoon themselves. On boarding the bus they took only a few minutes to travel through Galashiels and reach the Volunteer Hall. An official tour photograph was taken on the main street, in the shadow of the impressive clock tower, before entering the venue. Almost 300 men were sat for dinner in the Volunteer Hall, including a whole host of Scottish football legends including Finlay Calder, Johnny Gray and Jim Leishman who, along with Burma-born John Htet Khin, performed the duties of guest speakers during the evening.
The choristers were delighted to meet members of the Galashiels Pipe Band who, following the orders of Master of Ceremonies Morris Manson, led the Treorchy men into the banqueting hall where they were greeted with a rousing standing ovation from the other guests. On making their way to their tables, the choristers were treated to a delicious three course meal and free drinks, served by waiters at the table. Quite literally the choristers were treated as the main guests of honour at this special fundraising event for the Rowan Boland Memorial Trust which not only boasted some fine guest speakers, but also an auction in aid of the cause. It was a delight to be reunited with our old friend Rob Harris, the Wooden Spoon director and good friend who had made this tour a reality.
Following dinner Dr Haydn James led his musical troops, accompanied by Helen Roberts on the piano, through a short group of songs including “Men of Harlech”, “Let It Be Me”, “Speed Your Journey” and “Llef”. As the drinks continued to flow, further speakers took to the stage to entertain, before the Choir was again invited to perform, giving two renditions of “Gwahoddiad” and “Delilah” - will full audience participation! As the midnight hour approached the majority of the choristers headed back to their accommodation, while other sampled the local hospitality in the nearby Wetherspoons pub. With a near-perfect day coming to an end, all was well until choristers overloaded the lift and caused it to malfunction, leaving some very weary singers climb four flights of stairs before reaching a peaceful slumber.