At the start of September, we all came together to sing Choral Evensong for St Giles’ Day.
‘We’ as in St Giles’ Choir, members from Camberwell Community Choir, Southwark Pensioner’s Choir, Camberwell Choir School, Mind and Soul Choir – and quite a few ‘freelancers’ as well!
For a service lasting just 45 minutes there was a lot to sing! Music included Purcell’s ‘Thou knowest Lord’, Responses by Rose, Canticles by Stanford and Rutter’s ‘A Gaelic Blessing’. As well as a couple of hymns and a psalm for good measure. And with just under two hours to bring everything together, it was a real work out for all concerned.
But it was definitely worth it. The choir made a fantastic sound and it was the perfect way to end a happy, sunny St Giles’ Day. Thanks to everyone involved.
Last Sunday we said goodbye to Les Alden, the ‘Father’ of our church choir and surely one of the longest-serving choir members in it’s long history. Les joined the choir in 1960 when the BBC came to film Songs of Praise from St Giles’. 55 years later, Les is still singing at the top of his game!
Les has a lifelong connection to our church. He was born in 1943 and baptized at St Giles’, living for many years at 47 Vicarage Grove, opposite the church. Then, in 1961 he met his wife Pat. Les explains:
” In 1961 I went to a youth dance in St Giles’ Parish Hall with two friends. We saw three, very attractive young ladies on the other side of the hall and decided to ask them for a dance. We walked across the hall together and as I was about to ask my one for a dance, I found that my future wife Pat had somehow got in front of her. Pat asked me to dance and that was that. I never did get to dance with that attractive young lady!” Pat and Les got married in 1966 at St. Giles’.
Les joined the Church Council at the age of 21 and has been a member ever since. He has been a church warden numerous times and was instrumental in the conversion of the crypt at St Giles’ into a social space for use by the church and many other local groups. In 1995, Les took on the role of Volunteer Manager for Jazz Live in the Crypt, a role he continued in for 15 years. During that time, the crypt brought in an estimated £190,000 for church funds.
In his time at St. Giles’, Les has seen 5 Vicars – Canon Bishop, Fr. Nichols, Canon Rhymes, Canon Bomford and Fr. Nicholas. He has been to every part of the Church including the crawl-way under the floor and the very top of the spire. He also learned to ring the bells!
Everyone at St Giles’ wishes Les and Pat every happiness in their retirement in Shoreham. Knowing them, they will be every bit as busy as they were in Camberwell.