Honorary life membership award for dedicated choir member of 57 years

ONE of Saddleworth Male Voice Choir’s longest serving and most devoted members has been awarded an Honorary Life Membership.

Donald Craven, 86, was presented with a plaque at a special gathering at the Hare and Hounds in Uppermill to recognise his contribution to the choir over almost 57 years.

The presentation was kept a surprise until Donald walked through the pub’s doors – and he revealed he nearly did not go to the event!

“We were told at the break in one of our rehearsals that there was a special presentation after so we should all go down to the Hare and Hounds,” Donald explained.

“I was worried my wife Kathleen wouldn’t know why I was out so late but they pretended to ring her to explain so I said I’d go alone. Really she was already there and knew all about!”

Kathleen was there to share in Donald’s proud moment when he received the plaque from choir president Malcolm Hill.

She said: “When Donald came in to the pub and saw me he still had no idea! He was asking who was being honoured and everyone just saying, ‘It’s a surprise!’. It really was!”

Donald, who lives in Greenfield with Kathleen, first joined the choir in 1962 after being encouraged by his mother, with whom he enjoyed singing around the house.

He got in touch with the Male Voice Choir through a gentleman he met taking bus journeys to Uppermill to visit his parents and after trying it out has been a member ever since.

Over the years, he has held several committee posts including press officer and serving as chairman for about six years.

He continues to be a dedicated member as a baritone and has only missed two of the choir’s prestigious and popular Handel’s Messiah performances over the years.

And he still helps in securing advertisements for the choir’s annual Messiah Programme while the Patrons List, which he set up years ago to encourage donations, still runs today.

Other highlights include trips to sing with the choir in cathedrals around the world including Germany, Spain and Italy.

Donald concluded: “Hopefully more young people will join and keep the choir going and enjoy it as much as I have over the years.”

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