Churchdown Male Voice Choir
50 years of Singing
Friday 4th August 2017
St Catharine's Church
Wooton Pitch, Gloucester
An Evening to Remember Steve Force
SINGING FOR A SEAT FOR STEVE
There will soon be a new seat in Barnwood Park, a green oasis alongside the line of the old Roman road into Gloucester, the Ermin Way. This will not just be any old park bench, but a beautifully sculptured one by wood carver, Andy O’Neill, as a unique and personal memorial for a past member of our choir.
Steve Force left us on 29th December 2016, and we said our goodbyes at Gloucester Crematorium in January, just seven years on from when he joined the choir. If you lose someone, you want to try and remember that person in a special way. When his wife, Sarah, came up with the idea of a park bench, we were delighted to be asked to help fund the project by means of a money-raising concert. Any surplus over and above the amount needed would be donated to Macmillan.
The event was on Friday 4th August at St Catherine’s Church, Wooton Pitch, where Sarah Force welcomed the packed audience. She then spoke of the beautiful park where she and Steve walked every day when he was ill. “It was part of the fabric of our lives.” Strolling through it after he died, she conceived the idea of a permanent memorial to her late husband. The local council reacted positively, but said the seat would be of re-cycled plastic. Not only did that “not seem right”, but Sarah had seen a sculpture from a fallen tree created by Andy O’Neill. On going back to the council with her revised thoughts she obtained their agreement. “It will be something for the whole community to enjoy – our bench”, she stated.
The concert got off to a great start with ‘Anthem’ from the musical ‘Chess’, and after three more numbers the choir took a break. While the singers were resting, Ralph Barnes, with James Quinn on piano, gained warm applause for his three solos, appropriately culminating in “The Power of Love”.
On returning to the action Churchdown MVC took all and sundry “Back To The 60s”, before closing the half with “Rhythm of Life”.
After the interval everybody settled down to hear four more choir pieces before Bob Heath, who had met Steve Force at the local Maggie’s Centre, paid tribute to his friend. Knowing how much Steve enjoyed singing, Bob encouraged him to write songs, and from these therapy sessions was born the number called “How’s Your Soul Today?” The pair recorded it at Bob’s studio, and he treated us all to the live version.
A further five pieces completed the concert programme. However, after compère, Mike St John-Green called for a few moments silence to remember Steve, and another recently departed, well-loved Churchdown member, Barry Woods, the audience were treated to an uplifting encore, ‘American Trilogy’.