Personal stories, local history and more

By megan, Nov 7 2017 09:51PM

A vicar's daughter from rural Norfolk, who pioneered modern nursing, saved lives from both sides without discrimination, and was eventually executed by firing squad - Edith Cavell was an undoubted heroine of the First World War.

Her story has inspired one of our spoken word pieces, written by Chris Bowles, which you may have heard performed if you've been to one of our concerts.

Before the War, Cavell had worked as a nurse both in private homes, and in hospitals in London, and for a short time here in Manchester, at the Manchester and Salford Sick Poor and Private Nursing Institution. In 1907, she took a position teaching at a new nursing school in Brussels. When war broke out in 1914, she was back home in Norfolk visiting her mother, but quickly returned to her clinic and nursing school in Belgium..

She began sheltering British soldiers and helped around 200 escape occupied Belgium via the neutral Netherlands.

Eventually the German authorities caught up with her, and in 1915 she was captured, court martialled and condemned to death.

The night before her execution, she told the Reverend Stirling Gahan, the Anglican chaplain who had been allowed to see her and to give her Holy Communion, "Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone."

Edith Cavell was executed by firing squad at 7am in 12 October 1915. She was 49 years old.

Honoured with a state funeral at Westminster Abbey and numerous memorials around the world, Edith Cavell has become a symbol of compassion, faith and duty who continues to inspire over 100 years later.


By megan, Nov 1 2017 10:34PM

Time for another one of our meet the committe moments: this time, Helen, Beer andMusic Monitor!

Helen Griffiths

Beer and Music monitor (and Upcoming European Tour Organiser!)

Day job:Teacher

I have always loved singing from an early age.

When I was younger, I was involved in school choirs and, as an adult, a community choir. I then started training to be a teacher and decided to buy a house in my first year on the job. Needless to say, trying to squeeze singing into that schedule didn’t quite work! Four years ago, however, my job had settled down, my house was bought and I wanted to get back into singing. I was dragged along to my first Honour Choir rehearsal (4 whole hours of it!) by my head and deputy teacher. I loved every minute of it! Since then, I’ve also joined Ordsall Acappella Singers, moved to the Tenor section and started to run a children’s choir at my school (award winning choir I might add!).

I was somehow recruited to the Honour Choir committee after I proved an expert at sorting music into piles and making sure beer was found at the end of the rehearsal. Purely for medicinal reasons of course...Honour Choir has been a wonderful experience. They say singing heals all manner of sins, and all singing does have a purpose. But when you’re singing to honour the fallen, to commemorate the lost, to remember the sacrifice people made - that’s when singing really takes on a new life. Honour brings together people from all walks of life; differences are not noticed - we are there because we share a love of singing and the sense of community among the group is clear to anyone.

By megan, Nov 1 2017 10:12PM

The Battle of Passchendaele

“I died in hell – They called it Passchendaele”

Memorial Tablet, Siegfried Sassoon

The Third Battle of Ypres, more commonly known as the Battle of Passchendaele, became infamous for the scale of unnecessary casualties, but mainly for the conditions in which casualties occurred.

The offensive commandeered by Sir Douglas Haig, intended to push Allied Forces to the Belgian Coast in the North-East with the aim to destroy the German submarine bases.

The battle began with the successful Battle of Messines on the 7th June 1917. At a cost of 24,000 casualties, it was an omen of harder times to come.

The infantry attack began on 31st July 1917. Constant bombing and shelling had churned up the clay soil and destroyed drainage systems. The worst rain in 30 years produced think mud that clogged up rifles and grounded tanks to a halt. The mud became so thick that many men, horses and pack mules drowned in it.

The battle continued under immensely difficult circumstances; with each new offensive, fresh rain water

exacerbated the already difficult conditions.

Despite the misery, the battle continued. By the beginning of November, petered out. Although officially claimed as a victory for the Allied Forces, the soldiers had advanced just five miles, at a cost of 325,000 casualties. The German suffered grievously also, losing 260,000 soldiers.

Historians are still unclear why Haig continued to push in such horrific conditions. For many, the despair and desperation is summed up in the words of Siegfried Sassoon:

Memorial Tablet

by Siegfried Sassoon

Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight, (Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell— (They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight, And I was hobbling back; and then a shell

Men and horses drowned in the mud

Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light. At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew, He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare: For, though low down upon the list, I’m there; ‘In proud and glorious memory’ ... that’s my due. Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire: I suffered anguish that he’s never guessed. Once I came home on leave: and then went west... What greater glory could a man desire?

Read more about the personal stories of those who served here

By megan, Oct 24 2017 09:17PM

Continuing our mini-series of meeting the Honour choir committe - today: the teamaker in chief!

Megan Tripp

Day Job: Audience Development Manager for The Lowry.

"While I’m lucky enough to work every day in the arts, (and love my job) it can sometimes be a lot like any other office job; lots of spreadsheets, reports to write and meetings to sit through. Getting involved in things like Honour reminds me why participation in music and the arts is such life-enhancing stuff. In short, it helps remind me why I do my day job.

I got involved with the original Honour kind of by default: the QuaysCulture project team are based in my office and I was already in another local choir, so it was basically inevitable that I’d end up in this! It was a brilliant experience which will stay with me for the rest of my life, and when a small group of us from that project decided to give the choir a life beyond this one-off event, I was more than willing to help.

That mainly involves helping the rest of our brilliant committee by doing a lot of little odd jobs, though I am rather proud of having carved out a niche as Tea Maker in Chief at our rehearsals.(Tea and baked goods being essential to any choir's success, as everyone knows...)

Above all though, Honour is about so much more than just a choir. For me, it’s about community: bringing people together to commemorate a period in history which we should never forget, and remembering that we all have a responsibility to try just that little bit harder to live peacefully with each other, despite our differences."


By megan, Oct 24 2017 08:50PM

Today we talk to choir member Shelagh about her own family history and why she's part of Honour choir...

"I joined Honour Choir for two reasons: first, because I love singing, and second, to remember all those affected by the Great War, and specifically my grandfather, Hiram Falkland Gall, who died on 18th November 1916, the last day of the Battle of the Somme. His death had a profound effect on my granny, who lived another 50 years without remarrying, and my dad, who was only two years old and grew up an only child with no memories of his father.

It was a wonderful experience to take part in the performance in August 2014 which commemorated the outbreak of war, and to be able to continue the remembrance of significant battle anniversaries since then.

Last November, on the centenary of his death, I visited my grandfather's grave and attended the event commemorating the end of the battle of the Somme at Thiepval, and am very much looking forward to visiting Ypres with the choir next year."

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