Wakefield Cathedral Old Choristers' Association


News from.......

David Baxter:


David was a very popular Canon Precentor at Wakefield from 1986 to 1997.  He was Precentor during the centenary celebrations of 1988.  As a member of the Old Choristers' committee, he helped to organise the Federation Festival held in Wakeifeld in 1988 and was in post when the WCOCA celebrated its silver jubilee in 1991.      


David and his wife retired to Cumbria after leaving the cathedral.  


He writes:

When the new Dean of Carlisle, Mark Boyling, the son of Canon Dennis Boyling (you may remember him at Wakefield in the late 70s - early 80s), came to Carlisle, he made me Hon Vicar Choral here, which is a great privilege.  I do quite a bit around the place, including principal celebrant on some Sundays - weekly precenting at Choral Evensong on Fridays!


David and his wife have now moved to Scarborough, overlooking the South Shore.

The picture (below) is of me at my Golden Jubilee celebrations at Carlisle Cathedral.


David Baxter (569x800)

John Beaumont (WCC 1969-1975 and young back row choir member to 1979) writes:


I remember being about 15 years old, having a beer or two (?!) before the WCOCA dinner in 1975/6 just after I'd finished on the front row and was attempting to sing tenor or alto - can't remember which!   It was a bar above a restaurant in a side street off the street from the bull ring which went down the hill at the North side of the Cathedral.   Well it was 37 years ago, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.


Wthout the wonderful musical education I received at Wakefield, I wouldn't be singing at St. Paul's, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral because that's where I learnt to sight read - and that's the game in London!


It was good to see John at this year’s Annual Dinner.  He and Debbie have recently moved house to Maidenhead.  Last month, he sent me a copy of his new CD.  Entitled “The Story Tenor”, it features the songs of Gerald Finzi.  I must say it is a very good recording and John’s voice is on top form.  He is hoping to release two CDs next year featuring the songs of Roger Quilter and Peter Warlock.  If you are interested, his website is: www.thestorytenor.co.uk where you can download/purchase his CD.

Paul Simpson

Paul is currently living in Rochester in Kent and plays the organ in four different churches – one for each Sunday of the month except for the 8 or so weekends when the Rochester Cathedral Voluntary Choir is ‘on duty’ in which he sings First Bass. He also sing in the Rochester Choral Society.


Paul's wife is a prison chaplain in Woolwich and they have three grown up children one of whom was a Choral Scholar at Worcester College, Oxford.


Nils Bersweden

Nils was a chorister in the last years of Dr Saunders' time and at the beginning of Jonathan Bielby's tenure.  He is now a clergyman in the Diocese of Salisbury, holding the post of Team Rector of the Clarendon Team Churches.  He lives in Winterslow.  Coming to our events is difficult for Nils but he is hoping to be at the Golden Jubilee Dinner.  


Peter Darkin (OC 1944-1950)

Peter now lives in Bridgnorth and was a regular attender at our dinners in the past but has not attended for a number of years.  He would be very willing to make the journey if he knew OCs from his period.  Richard Briggs, Roger Scott, John Holt, Colin Fuller, Trevor Copley have all attended in recent years.  He attended this year's dinner and thoroughly enjoyed it.


Terry Cass

He joined the choir when the Cathedral was celebrating its diamond jubilee.  Now living with his wife in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, he has sung in the local thriving church choir for over 40 years.  Two years ago he returned to Wakefield and described the Cathedral as looking "like a bomb-site".  Recently they made a return visit and were very impressed by what had happened to the nave.  He thinks the removal of the pews is a total success and give a greater feeling of spaciousness.


Alistair Haigh

Alistair, son of the late Richard Haigh, continues his naval career but likes to keep in touch with WCOCA through the Newsletters.


Rachel Bennett

Rachel, the first Girl Head Chorister, is living in the West Country and working at Exeter University.  She now has two children, one of whom sings in Exeter Cathedral Choir.  She continues to sing and teach singing along with some choir training but does not do as much as she would like.



Richard Belt joined the choir in 1962 and says one of the saddest days of his life was when his voice broke.  He has lived with his wife in St Albans for over twenty five years.  They have four grown-up children.  A busy man, working in Finland three days each week and then spends the other two days working in the UK.  He still comes back to West Yorkshire to watch Leeds United and Leeds Rhinos.  He enjoys reading the newsletters and hopes to attend one of our events in the future.