Freedom Ceremony 30th November 2016.
Mr Mayor, High Sheriff, Mr and Mrs Darlington, Mrs and Mrs Barnard Castle and Mrs Colburn, My Lord/Lady, Freemen and honoured guests.
I knew the name Gedye long before I could put faces to the name. People were always talking about Carol and her very rare talent – the ability to make anyone sing and more importantly sing in tune as well!
I finally managed to put the face to the name when I attended a Service at St Marys’ Parish Church and witnessed her work with the congregation (young, not so young and the really not at all young) as they joined together with their instruments (vocal, string and wind) to provide an enjoyably relaxed but moving morning.
This should have been a happy warning for me.
Next I bumped into Carol as she was creating the first ever WAGS choir on the Garrison. A simple idea which came into being because of the need to support Service Families face up to an uncertain future given the ever increasing deployment of our ever diminishing armed forces throughout the world on longer and longer deployments. The idea must have been a good one because it has been repeated throughout the UK and has featured on the BBC (although I have never quite understood their choice of Gareth Malone to front the series – Carol was and is a much greater inspirational leader!). The Wags Choir is a very special choir. Through their rehearsals and performances those involved have developed an additional and very strong network of support for each other and their families. Rank of Husband or Boyfriend plays no part in the choir – all those participating are equal. They raise thousands of pounds each year for many local causes many of which have no obvious connection to the Armed Forces. However the Wags Choir has thus created that immediate connection and helped us all to understand the true meaning of the “Military Covenant”.
Commercial Break: The WAGS Choir will be performing in Richmond Market Place during the Christmas Market....not to be missed!
Driving the Little White Bus, (as a volunteer), through the garrison parishes I have become more and more aware of the ever increasing numbers of – politically incorrect statement coming up and I apologise wholeheartedly in advance– ladies in uniform. So I now think that Carol (as a gesture towards gender equality) is going to have to go away and set up the Husbands and Boyfriends Choir (HABs) or the Boyfriends and Husbands Choir (BAHs)! She could also then set up a combined choir and we could soon be listening to WAGBAHs or the WAGHABs or even the HABWAGs or, in the best of Christmas traditions the BAHWAGS!!!!!!
The second major string to Carol’s current Bow is yet another ensemble of singers – The Station Singers. Once again Carol has taken on the challenge of encouraging over 100 people with very varied musical abilities to sing together. They are divided into three different groups meeting at different times and on different days and rehearsing different musical pieces and then with a few waves of her Conductors’ Wand (or baton as it is known in the trade) she brings them all together to perform as a united choir. They too fundraise for both local and national charities and have also had an international tour this year with a concert in France!
Commercial break. The next concert for the Station Singers is on Saturday December the 10th at 7.30pm (doors open at 7pm) in St Marys’ Church. Tickets: £8 if bought in advance and £10 on the door. End of Commercial Break!
The beauty of Carols’ work is that it brings together people of all ages, backgrounds and of all abilities to create a community of music which they share with us all and share for the benefit of us all. The Wags Choir and the Station Singers are triumphant weapons in the battle against social and personal isolation and are the living proof that communities can be nurtured and that they in turn nurture the wider communities through their efforts.
It is with enormous pleasure that I propose that Mrs Carol Gedye be granted the Freedom of Richmond in recognition of her services to music in our community and her services to our community with music.