Bognor Regis Music Club rebuilding strongly
Ian Clark, who used to perform with Chris at the club, has now succeeded him as chairman and has seen the club through a successful first year back, effectively something of a rebirth. He is hoping to continue the rebuilding through the next year, particularly with a view to bringing in younger members.
“Since we re-formed last autumn, we have managed to present a season of great music but face challenges to grow the club going forward with an increasingly elderly membership. I knew Chris for a number of years and he was so lovely and so generous and so gifted. He rather hid his talents. He was self-taught and it was only later in life that he took serious piano lessons. He was always very generous with his time and his gifts and he did so much work for the club.
“I performed with Chris on members evenings at the club but I was not part of the set-up at the club at all, but they lost a couple of committee members and they were looking for a restart. They contacted a number of people, people that knew Chris and knew his vision for the club and had perhaps been involved.
“Several of us were asked to come along to a meeting and through various twists and turns I became chairman and we did manage a full season last year, putting on about ten concerts altogether. We had to restart and we have now got similar numbers of membership fortunately but some of our members are fairly infirm and because of illness can't come to the concerts even though they are still keen to be members, wanting to support the club. But we have had three or four deaths of older members this year and that's another reason why they wanted to get a team that was slightly younger. And we are looking at ways to do that.
"There was a worry that people would not come back after the pandemic particularly with the majority of our members being of the older generation but in fact we have had very steady attendances at concerts and it has been lovely to see the enthusiasm of people coming back and sharing their own talents and sharing the talents of others. We finished off with a summer concert where we had Pimms and Pavlova and we had a lovely time getting to know each other more. It was great to feel the warmth and hear people’s stories about their own music and their involvement. It was very heartening.”
Ian is looking to build on that with the next season which began in October: “We're stable numbers-wise but we could definitely do with more and especially with members who are able to be more active as members. We need to encourage more people to come to the concerts and also to get new people.
“For me the vision is that we are now entering our 43rd year and we've got to make sure that we get to 50 and that means we've got to find younger people, younger members who are much more involved in our activities. But it is great that we have managed to pick up the baton from Chris and to know that his legacy carries on.”