Personal stories, local history and more

By megan, Oct 18 2017 08:30PM

Today''s post comes from choir member, Paul....

"I want to talk to you today about war and about peace.

There is a saying – ‘the first casualty of war is truth’ – attributed to various people.

John Parr is acknowledged to be the first British casualty of world war 1, killed in action near Mons in Belgium on 21st August 1914.

John Parr lied about his age in 1912 to enlist in the army when he said he was fifteen. He did this because he thought it would be a better way of life, for three square meals a day and to see the world. He was seventeen when he was killed.

Who am I?

I am Private George Ellison.

I served in the army right throughout the war and thought I would see it through to return to my wife and 5 year old son.

I was the last British soldier killed in action in World War 1, also near Mons in Belgium at 9.30 am on 11th November 1918, 90 minutes before the armistice.

John and I are laid to rest in St. Symphorien military cemetery, near Mons

You can find our resting places easily, because we are facing each other.

We were the first and the last.

The irony of war is that it is pursued to bring peace. "

“But the past is just the same – and War’s a bloody game….

Have you forgotten yet?...

Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget”.

{Siegfied Sassoon}


By megan, Oct 18 2017 08:14PM

Time for another 'meet the committee' post... this time, our Secretary, Chris tells us about how he came to be involved with Honour.

Chris Beadsmoore: Secretary

Day Job: Quality and Enhancement Officer, University of Salford

I have been singing since I was small and entering competitions with the Keswick School Choir, musicals at University and more recently, singing with Ordsall Acappella Singers, Honour Choir and Whitefield Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society.

I became Chair of OAS 3 years ago, took a brief sabbatical last year to play Wing Commander Greylag in WAODS production of 'Honk!͛' and continue to sing in as many places as my busy schedule will allow.

Four years ago I was asked to help recruit 500 singers for an arts project based at MediaCityUK (the original 'Honour'). Little did I know where that would lead to at the time! Honour has been an amazing journey, exploring the history of World War 1 and the connection it has to people living now. I feel incredibly proud that as we approach the end of the commemoration period, we have an amazing performance delivered through song and spoken word that takes people through the emotions of those leaving home, the battlefield, the heart-breaking loss and sacrifice to modern day and those still commemorating soldiers who were lost. Not just died on the battlefield, but were never found amongst the many dead.


By megan, Oct 16 2017 08:32PM

War poetry has inspired much of the music we sing. Siegfried Sassoon was of course one of the great war poets, who despite being decorated for bravery on the Western Front, became an outspoken critic of the war, and didn't flinch from describing the horrors of the trenches.

Here is Sassoon's 'How to Die' in full, followed by a clip of us singing some of the lines, as put to music by Andy Smith for Honour in 2014.

How To Die

Dark clouds are smouldering into red

While down the craters morning burns.

The dying soldier shifts his head

To watch the glory that returns;

He lifts his fingers toward the skies

Where holy brightness breaks in flame;

Radiance reflected in his eyes,

And on his lips a whispered name.

You’d think, to hear some people talk,

That lads go West with sobs and curses,

And sullen faces white as chalk,

Hankering for wreaths and tombs and hearses.

But they’ve been taught the way to do it

Like Christian soldiers; not with haste

And shuddering groans; but passing through it

With due regard for decent taste.

Siegfried Sassoon

By megan, Oct 15 2017 03:58PM

We've posted a couple of profiles recently from our singers; today we have a chat with our Chair. Kerry, about how she got involved with the whole Honour project and came to take such a key role in shaping the choir we have today.

(Clue: the bacon sandwiches are crucial)

Kerry Colyer: Chair

Day Job: Physics Teacher, Elton High School, Bury

I joined Ordsall Acappella Singers around 8 years ago and have enjoyed singing in a whole variety of interesting places and as part of all kinds of projects ranging from charity events to arts projects to Mayoral Balls.

I have always enjoyed watching musical theatre but in 2014 I had the opportunity, through the choir, to take part in a production at The Lowry, and while terrifying, it kindled a love of performing on the stage. Most recently I have joined Whitefield Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society and taken part in Honk! and Sister Act.

In 2014 I offered to turn up early for the first rehearsal of the original Honour project to help set out the chairs. Little did I know where that would lead at the time!

3 years on and now as Chair of the project it has been an honour (!) to work with so many

talented performers. Both singers and spoken word artists. It has been a privilege to listen to peoples’ stories of family, friends and local people who fought in and were affected by the events of the First World War. I have learnt so much.

A particular highlight for me has been being involved in the development of new artwork. It

has been fascinating to be involved in the development of songs, spoken word and music

written specifically for Honour Choir. From first, rough ideas to high quality pieces performed

with passion that have moved people to tears as we commemorate WWI.

And finally I want to thank the committee, without whom none of this would be possible. The coffee, the tea, the endless planning, the beer and of course the bacon sandwiches!

Each time we perform I remember again what a special way Honour Choir has of

commemorating those who fell. We will remember them.

By megan, Oct 12 2017 10:20PM

(Click the photo to enlarge)

Our members have lots of reasons for singing with us: perhaps it's about spending time with friends, learning new skills, exploring beautiful music, honouring those who made the ultimate sacrifice 100 years ago, or uncovering personal family stories and local history. Or sometimes a bit of all of those.


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