Monday, 1 February 2016

Tenby Male Choir – The choir says goodbye to Bobby

It was a sad occasion for the choir on 13th January when they attended the funeral of long serving and senior choir member Bobby Turnbull at the age of 94. The funeral took place in St. Mary’s church. As part of a very moving service the choir sang Ely Jenkins prayer and after the service the choir formed around the coffin of their friend and choir member to sing Speed Your Journey. They then led the funeral procession out of the church to form a guard of honour in persistent rain as the coffin was carried out.
Bobby had become a member of the choir shortly after his cherished wife Mary passed away in 1989. He missed her very much and being in the choir helped him significantly with his recovery from that sad occasion. He was made a Life Member of the Choir some years ago in recognition of his exceptional service and commitment to the Choir. One of the tasks he is remembered for amongst many is as the guardian and salesman of choir cassette tapes for one of the choir’s earlier recordings. He had the spirit of the British Bulldog and applied this to the custody of the cassettes.
Bobby lost his own father as a young lad and was brought up by his mother and at the age of 14 he entered work in the coal mines of his Durham home at Horden Colliery just before the start of the World War 2 and so will have played his part in the critical extraction of coal to fuel the factories so crucial to the war effort. Not long after commencing work in the mine Bobby “misinformed” his employers about his age so that he could qualify for work at the much more dangerous and demanding coal face simply because it earned higher wages.

In the early 1950s however the coalmines of the North East came increasingly under the threat of closures and so Bobby moved his family to Nuneaton for security and also better conditions in the NCB mining accommodation. During his time in the North East Bobby had trained and raced greyhounds and also bred budgerigars and canaries. He had to give up his “Kree” of birds when he moved but he did take with him one canary and a budgerigar with one leg!!  In later years in the midlands he worked for Dunlop and for Jaguar but in retirement moved to Tenby.

He was very much a family man with two daughters Mary and Margaret who blessed him with four grandchildren Joanne and Elizabeth and David and Stephen. Stephen read a very emotional eulogy as part of the service.

In 2003 he joined a few of Tenby choristers on a Tour of Eastern States of USA, to support the dedication of the British memorial to 9-11. The Tenby choir members were part of an invitational choir named 'the Comrades Choir and sang in Washington with the US Army chorus, in Boston with the Sangefest Male Choir.

During that visit the Tenby members decided to make the most of their visit by walking to many of the landmarks and sights of New York but after the first day Bobby suffered numerous blisters.  In a display of that “bulldog spirit” referred to earlier he simply changed into sandals and continued to walk.  Apparently he didn’t think he would ever have another chance to come to New York and so he was not going to miss out on the sightseeing.

Bobby will be long remembered and much missed by the members of the choir.

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