Following on from the charming account of her memories of the Choirs early days, Alan Pascoe's wife Pam, has put 'pen to paper' once more to provide an insight into the important role of the 'Loveny Ladies'.........
"Having written my memories of the formation of Loveny Male Voice Choir I felt it was essential to pay homage to their ladies who played such a vital part in its development.
In the beginning it was only the men. But, as the saying goes, behind every good man, there is a good woman! At first there were the eight men who were invited to our home at Carnglaze, to listen to the latest addition of our slowly growing collection of the new fangled vinyl recordings of Cornish Male voice choirs. Inevitably this developed into a discussion as to how to get a Male Voice Choir of our own started in St. Neot.
Fortified with the proverbial bit of saffron (or whatever was left in the cake tin and a ‘Dish o Tay’, as the old folk said. The group gathered round the piano for a little sing song before going home. Gradually, in ones and twos, more men were invited, and when the numbers outgrew our seating capacity they decided to meet in the Village Institute. I was to continue as pianist also taking responsibility of ensuring each man was provided with a copy of the relevant music, the wallpaper contraption of Carnglaze sitting room having been abandoned long since. We were allowed the use of the Institute piano and also the kitchen for our tea making. Soon, of course, we ladies, rather than sit at home all evening, began accompanying our men folk to the Institute.
Sitting at the far end of the room, away from the choir, our whispering seemed to distract the men, and we were banished to the kitchen. Actually this was to prove to be of benefit to us. We had more room and could accommodate more ladies and were able to discuss in normal tones all the news we gleaned from our men folk. We still provided a halftime cuppa and biscuit for our men, then, we readily joined them in the bar for a going home drink, which made a pleasant social evening for everyone.
Talk we ladies did! We discussed the men’s problems! The first seemed to be for money. The weekly 50p was not covering the cost of sheet music, and the need to have the piano tuned was desperate. Always ready to prove our efficiency we decided we would show them! "Ideas girls?" Of course, the first and simplest idea of all would be a jumble sale,
Now, all suggestions concerning the choir had to be presented to the men’s committee for approval, and of course their help was going to be essential and so the pattern for the frequent and vital fund raising was begun. Loveny, already attracting lots of public interest, was never short of massive support from the public for these events, which without the men's help, they could not have taken place. They carried the big trestle tables borrowed from the chapel to the institute, set them all up, and humped in the endless loads of jumble of every description. In addition they we're always at hand to help control the clamouring queue waiting to dash in to get first picks once the door opened, and, most thankfully to wander round the room keeping an eye on the ’professionals’ who came armed with lots of black plastic bags, and often the whole family of children, well trained to make a lightning round of the stalls and a quick getaway!
All the takings were in small change, and were gathered up from each stall at intervals through the proceedings to be totalled by the Choir’s Treasurer who was stationed in the kitchen with his ‘Bank' for taking and giving petty cash as needed.
So, at this stage, all monies were in the bank account of the M V Choir, and when the ladies wanted cash to buy anything for the men, they had to apply to the men's committee for approval the handing over of cash for that purpose. This worked whilst demands were modest, but when the ladies requests became larger for shirts etc, their treasurer started protesting at the drain on their reserves and not wanting to pay out, became reluctant to withdraw cash!!
The ladies were not going to stand for that.......NOT LIKELY, So, a couple of our most businesslike ladies proposed that we ask permission to open our own separate bank account for convenience, and so lessen the work of the men’s treasurer. He did not like relinquishing his position of power, but thankfully the men themselves saw the sense of the proposal and it became official. What a wise move that was. The ladies’ finances were properly administered with one lady acting as their own appointed treasurer, to be properly presented for adoption at each Loveny MVC Annual General Meeting in a proper fashion. The men had one member who was a qualified accountant acting for them so when the ladies’ balance sheet was presented for adoption at the men’s Annual General Meeting and was included in the men’s balance sheet and was accepted immediately.
The choir now well established with uniforms and a recognised routine, a proposal was made to have a logo, and all the men and ladies were asked to gather sketches and ideas to be put to a general vote for a winner. Lots were submitted, but it was. Gwen Case, wife of a chorister who provided the clever drawing of the oak leaf.
This is the Loveny Male Voice Choir Logo.
The blue Loveny riband represented the river Loveny, which, gathers up all the little tributaries from the huge surrounding parish of St. Neot and uniting them in St. Neot village. Loveny Male Voice Choir is its replica, gathering it's members from the parish and district, uniting them also within the village.
The blue riband (river) is surmounted on the oak leaf. This being a reminder of the intense 'Royalist' support of the parish during the Civil war, and a remembrance of the oak tree which sheltered King Charles II, thus enabling his escape from the Roundheads during the bitter Civil War. Every year, on the anniversary of this occasion, the Parishioners of St. Neot replace the oak branch on the church tower in thankfulness to God for Charles' safe escape. The oak branch, incidentally, has made many a reveller viewing it, when tottering out from a convivial session within the London Inn, to pause and question his eyesight when viewing an oak branch growing on the top of a church tower!!! However, back to the Logo. It was a brilliant combination of symbols depicted in such a compact design, and has been successfully incorporated in an infinity of ways ever since its inception.
We ladies were avid observers, especially of other choirs and their ways and customs. We noted that those of longer existence, especially those entering competitions, had a banner, which, was placed on stage throughout their performance which displayed the choir’s name to the audience. Nick had entered Loveny for its first ever competition, the Cornwall County Festival to be held at St Austell, so, one of our ladies, an accomplished needle woman and a member of the Embroiderers Guild made an exquisitely embroidered shield shaped banner. Which had a hanging pole, made and presented from some of the men, appeared a beautiful wooden free standing base and upright rod, enabling it to stand alongside the choir on stage, exactly as the professionals would do!!
Another observant lady announced that Loveny needed a mascot as competitions were to becoming part of its life. Soon a mascot appeared in the form of a cloth stuffed manikin about chest high and clad in Loveny uniform in absolute detail with neatly knotted tie and even the blazer pocket displayed the Loveny M V C logo embroidered on its pocket. Those ladies who made him spent many hours intricately working on his production, and he was always stood in front of the choir on stage. I forget his name, but he went everywhere with the choir in the charge of his careers. He even came to the afterglow where he was set in a prominent position near the bar. Later in the evening some wit amongst the men would surreptitiously pull him into a sagging position, whereupon the choir launched into their own version of ‘The Drunken Sailor’, and it was deemed time for the men folk to take their ladies safely home!!
Another innovation was the coach banner. This was a truly splendid example of ingenuity and generous labour on the part of one or two ladies.
There were times when it was necessary for the choir to travel together by coach so these enterprising ladies set to and made banners to fit the whole width of both the front and rear windows of the hire coach with large appliqué letters announcing LOVENY MALE VOICE CHOIR. Others often including children provided streamers and blown up balloons for celebratory occasions, which probably sounds childish reading about it now, but was, at the time, a perfectly natural thing to do, as the choir, probably now singing triumphantly, made its way home".