30 years of the Mayflowers
In July 2021, we celebrated 30 years as members of Sweet Adelines International and some chorus members can remember that time well.
We have learned in our time together (especially recently) that we are a family first and a singing group second giving support in difficult times and enjoying a shared passion for singing. What a great organisation and chorus! Yes, the Mayflowers have had a wonderful history, full of friendships and successes with a great deal of fun thrown in!
The Mayflower chorus and brother chorus, The Pilgrimaires, was founded nearly 41 years ago by a husband and wife team, Joan and Gordon Wilcocks. Since that time we have had five directors all of whom have strived to encourage the chorus to improve everything that is barbershop. Our current MD, Sarah Gill, has provided the opportunity for all our members to learn, grow and become better singers. In a positive way, she leads us to achieve our goals and is always very encouraging.
In 1998, 1999 and 2000, we were placed 4th at our annual regional convention and won the Best Small Chorus award twice. It’s always thrilling to get a gong!
A great costume is the epitome of barbershop and over the years we have had many of these including marching band outfits, gold capes with turbans and as we all can relate to, the one-size-fits-all dress – all in the search for sophistication! These days at least we all go in for a bit more comfort especially in the shoe department.
At one convention, as our coach was stuck in traffic, we leapt off and ran through the streets of Newcastle in an attempt to reach our warmup room on time. It was only after we left the stage that one of our members realised she was still wearing her flip flops!
Other fond memories include performing at the Plymouth Pavilions in 1998 with guest quartets Showtime and Acoustix. The barbeque afterwards in Siobhan’s garden was fantastic with virtually another performance from these amazing singers.
We have also been privileged to have received visits from overseas like ChannelAire Chorus, Tropical Harmony, Farmington Valley and the RichTones, and great coaching from Marge Bailey, Tom Gentry, Kim Vaughan and Theresa Weatherbee to name but a few.
Who remembers Mr. Blobby (Noel Edmond’s sidekick)? Here is a memory of a chorus member performing in great heat on Plymouth Hoe: “We have always had it drummed into us that we do not take our eyes off the director when we are performing. Imagine the scene on a lovely day on the top of Plymouth Hoe with its stunning views across the water, people milling about, the Mayflowers singing happily. Then, from right to left, behind the director a mini car drives along with a pink Mr. Blobby lying on his back on the roof and waving. I reckon not one of us did as we had been told.”
We have had so many memorable sing-outs, one significant one recently being the support choir for the talented singer/songwriter, Richard Navarro. Our retreats have always brought us both education and laughter, sharing our experiences with talented people such as Glenn Chaney, David Sangster and Emanuel Roll from the Ringmasters.
We remember friends who have come and gone and seen the joy of new members who have been uplifted by our harmonies. They all receive a warm welcome and come to join in the love of the Mayflower family.