Born a Mancunian on 27th October 1951, 4th of 5 sons, to Vera and Robert Kennedy of Moss Side. We moved when I was 4 to Millhouse Green, near Penistone, after dad died tragically of a heart attack, aged 43 years. Alone with 5 sons, Mum wanted to be close to her parents.
Dad was from a large family and I remember mum once saying that in the old days the whole lot of them would gather on a Saturday night in the pub at the end of the road and have a sing-song around the piano. Dad could play anything but could not read a note of music. Maybe that’s where I got my love for music and singing from.
I started my education at Millhouse Junior School, then onto Penistone Grammar. Stocksbridge College of Further Education at 15 on a full time engineering course. 4 years as apprentice mechanical engineer at Samuel Fox & Co (now Corus) along with day release and night school at Barnsley Technical College. Stayed with Corus for 38 years, taking early voluntary retirement last year. Lasted a month before I was invited back part-time on special products which I still thoroughly enjoy. The downside to this is that all the major outstanding jobs at home are still on the back-burner, to Denise’s dismay.
I’ve been married to Denise for 34 years and we have 2 daughters, Sarah 28 and Helen 21. Sadly they don’t share my enthusiasm for choral singing.
I played football as a boy, but no superstar. I’ve supported Wednesday since I was 10 and, at 14, went to the 1966 FA Cup Final at Wembley (we lost 3-2 to Everton). I like most sports. Other interests include videography, winemaking and DIY – I enjoy making and mending things and an old farmer I used to work for as a young boy once said to me, ‘Lad if job’s worth doing it’s worth doing right’. This I have always tried to do.
I have sung Local Christmas Carols in The Fountain Inn, Ingbirchworth, for the last 40 years. Whilst singing there on Boxing Day 1997 I was tapped on the shoulder and a loud voice boomed at me, ‘Do you sing in a choir? Have you ever been in a choir? Would you like to join a choir? Give me your phone number and I’ll contact you before our next practice.’ Idrys, and true to his word he rang and invited me to come and have a look at the choir. I’ve been there ever since.
I sing first tenor, sandwiched on the second row (practice and concerts) between Frank Bex and Edward Sykes. Thankfully we have the tune for most of the songs as I don’t read music very well. The best thing for me about the choir is the comradeship. There are all walks of life here and you feel you can bond to any one person or group. A prime example of this friendship was one year on our annual trip to Llandudno when one night, my room mate, Ibbo, retired to bed saying he’d leave the bedroom door ajar. Rod Gooch and Dave Haigh retired soon after, and, noticing our door open, promptly closed it. Yours truly thus found the door locked and loud tappings failed to wake an Ibbo comatose with beer. Rod and Dave heard though and emerged from next door. They said they’d seen the open door and closed it. Spotting my predicament, Dave said,‘We’ve a spare bed you can have’. I was undressed and in bed before he’d turned to shut and lock the door. True friends.
Although I miss the pub singing we used to have after choir practice, I feel honoured and proud to be part of this choir. I have many memorable moments to look back on and without it how would I be able to boast that I can sing at least one song in English, Welsh, Italian, Czech, Latin and Polish. I’m sure we are on the right path with Elizabeth and Ann leading us (two gems) and look forward to more great concerts and social times in the future.
(ed – I knew David Haigh was quick on the uptake)