Barbara Durston 1925 - 2015
It was 1945 when the Male Voice Choir got back together now that the second world war had ended. They had a conductor and asked a Barbara Badman, a 20 year piano teacher, if she would be the choir’s accompanist. Barbara’s reply is one of those statements that should go down in history. “I’ll come along”, she said, “for a few weeks to see how I get on”. Barbara was the accompanist to the choir for the next 62 years.
Barbara’s influence is still felt today. In 1954 the choir was funded by Patrons and it was decided that the choir should thank these Patrons in some way. A concert was arranged where members of the public would come but the Patrons would be invited as special guests. What to call this concert? It was Barbara who suggested it should be called ‘Guest Night’ and all these years later we are still holding the annual Guest Night.
Much later the choir was run by a committee that included both the conductor and the accompanist. These meetings were always held at Barbara’s house. Not because it was central or big enough but solely because Barbara was the most amazing cake maker. We all looked forward to these meetings for the feast and I am certain that ‘doggy bags’ were carried away afterwards!
Barbara was there at every practice, every concert, every event and, in the early days, every competition. This was done on a voluntary basis for years although towards the end of her tenure she received an honourarium of just £100 a year.
Barbara gave just over two thirds of her life to the choir and it is a sobering thought that the longest serving member of this all male choir was a woman!