1991 was a milestone year for me. Firstly, along with my brother, I acquired the long established ‘Atkinson’s’ butcher in the centre oj New Mill. This meant that I was to be my own boss for the first time and in charge of my own future. A very exciting prospect. But little did I know that shortly after I was to embark on a journey that would change my life compeletely. In November of 1991along com New Mill MVC! Like a bolt from the blue, or green in this case.
How the choir was formed has been well documented (in practically every programme since) so need to go into that. At that time Brett Mellor was a good friend of mine and landlord of the Duke of Leeds and always full of ideas, some good, some not so good. He had been pestering me for a good while to go along to an arranged choir practice at Lydgate school. The first ever organised by Brett and presided over by Len Williams, who I didn’t know previously. I was hooked from the very first meeting and haven’t missed many since.
I was a born again singer, having performed as a child and a teenager in church choirs and other musical groups. I took the discipline like a duck to water, eagerly awaiting the next practice night and later relishing the thought of our next concert.
After a lot of hard work and good fun, in 1997 we appeared in our biggest venue to date ‘The Royal Albert Hall’. Who’d have thought it ‘New Mill’ the choir that people said wouldn’t happen or couldn’t last appeared in the choir of 1000 voices concert for ‘Yorkshire Cancer Research’ charity. A very moving experience and a grand weekend away. We were very well represented with over 40 singers and resplendent in our almost new green jackets that have latterly become our trademark.
My next milestone was the first time I heard the Cantorion in Huddersfield Town Hall lead by the legendary Colin Jones. Male voice choir singing at its very best.Mind-blowingly loud one second, amazingly quiet the next. Billed as the Welsh ‘choir of choirs’. Picked men from the best male choruses of North Wales. Nothing can quite describe the inspiration I gained from hearing them, They were like a breath of fresh air and a group that we could possibly model ourselves on. Although we of course couldn’t be them we could aspire to be the best we can.
Lastly I have to mention our first competition win at Elsecar. We set our stall out to win it and pursuaded choir members to go along. Fantastic win. Fantastic feeling. Fantastic choir