HUGH McALINDENHugh McAlinden’s death, during the run of our fortieth anniversary show in May, 2002, came as a devastating shock to us. Instrumental in founding the Society, Hugh was our MD for many of our first 25 years, returning in 1993 to musically direct “The Gipsy Baron”. Hugh’s humanity, absolute musical integrity and disciplined approach will never be forgotten. His contribution to the Society was recognised by his appointment as Honorary President. Our deepest sympathies go to Maureen and all Hugh’s family.
EDDIE MORRISON On the departure of our founding musical director, Hugh McAlinden, Eddie Morrison took over the role in "The Mikado" in Motherwell Town Hall, our first production since leaving our "birthplace", St Patrick's Church, Craigneuk, and carried the baton with oustanding distinction until Hugh's return in the mid-70s. A consumate music teacher and performer and an Honorary President of the Society, Eddie led us through the eventful production of "The Vagabond King" in Motherwell Civic Concert Hall in 1970, the very first show to be produced on that stage. Probably Eddie's greatest hour was conducting the Society's first Waterford production, Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Gondoliers" in 1972. Many were surprised that the performance did not win the major award. Other productions under his leadership were "The Desert Song" (1966), "The Merry Widow" (1968 and 1973), "Pink Champagne (1968), "Iolanthe" (1970) which some believe was one of our best ever domestic performances and "The Student Prince" (1971). Eddie's recent death came as a huge shock to us all; his outstanding teaching skills and fine musicianship in all aspects of light opera and musicals were a delight to experience for all of us who had the privilege of working under his guidance. To Eddie's family and friends we extend our sincerest sympathy and prayers. Requiescat in Pace CRLEditor’s note: If you have a photograph of Eddie, we’d be glad to have it.
LEX JOHNSTON Lex died on Tuesday, 30th November, 2005. He had been walking with friends on Tinto Hill, near Biggar, Lanarkshire and decided to walk on ahead. He did not return, and his body was found on the path by hill walkers. Lex's funeral, on Tuesday, 6th December, at a packed Daldowie Crematorium, was a Humanist one, at which we learned more about his family, his interest in music, nature, photography, ceilidh dancing, acting (including his recent appearances in commercials) and many other interests. Movingly, his daughter read a poem called "I am here" which Lex himself recited at her wedding just three weeks earlier.Lex had become a most popular member of the Society, and in recent shows had worked tirelessly in our Stage Crew. His friendly, helpful, cheerful nature endeared him to everyone and his sudden departure shocked us all. Only a few days before his death, he was providing refreshments at our regular rehearsal and announced that he was joining the cast of the show. Our sympathies go to all his loved ones.Editor’s note: If you have a photograph of Lex, we’d be glad to have it.
PAT RAFFERTY It was with great sadness, in March 2006, that the members and friends of the Society heard the sad news of the sudden death of Pat Rafferty.Pat was a former pupil of Our Lady's High School, a stalwart singing member of the Bass section, and possessed of a melodic Bass-Baritone voice which he used to effect in many principal roles in the early days of the Society. Eventually, he became President and led the club through four very exciting years. Pat was born and bred in Kirkfieldbank (Lanark) and, prior to joining our Society, trod the boards with St Mary's Operatic Club in Lanark and the Star of the Sea Society in Rathcoole, N.Ireland.Pat was one of the world's eternal optimists, never taking "No" for an answer whatever obstacles were put in front of him. A typical example of that was how he, almost single-handedly, brow-beat the Society into entering the Waterford International Festival in 1972.Pat was a keen games player, playing football at Junior level, enthusiastically hacking his way round many golf courses and eventually representing Scotland as an international Badminton player.It was typical that, when Pat finally left the Operatic Society, he became a Coach in the swimming baths at Blantyre. The turn-out of so many young people at Pat's funeral was testament to the love and esteem in which he was held.His many friends and colleagues, both in- and outside the Society will miss Pat, even though his impish sense of humour led him into many an argument (which he really did enjoy!)We would like to offer his wife Helen, his children Yvonne, Brendan, Euan and all the Rafferty family our deepest sympathy.Requiescat in Pace Dan Hughes
JOHN WATSONSadly, we have to report the loss of ex-member, John Watson, whose rich bass voice graced our chorus for many years. John had lived his last few years at Glenview Court Nursing Home where he always attended the concerts performed by the Society for the residents. Many members, past and present, attended a touching and at the same time magnificent mass for John in Motherwell Cathedral on Saturday 7th May. The Choir was provided by Society members, led by John Pitchaithly at the organ. John Kelly and Moira Bradley sang.A fuller tribute will appear shortly
MARTHA WRIGHTNews of Martha Wright's death, after decades of crippling illnesses, reached a stunned Society during the Band Call for "Chess - the Musical" soon after 4pm on Sunday, 3rd November, 2002. Martha was unforgettable and irreplaceable in the Society, a stalwart of the Alto section and most loyal participant in every show her health allowed. Her last appearance with us was in "Singing Is Our Forte", the celebration of the forty years for which she was a member, having been with us from the very start. Many tributes were paid to Martha during a most moving Requiem Mass on Wednesday, 6th November in Motherwell Cathedral, attended by many hundreds of family and friends. Appropriately, the music, from soloists, clergy, choir and congregation, was of a standard of which even Martha (who was particular about such matters) was no doubt proud. Every member, past and present, who could attend was there to pay tribute to our dear friend.
PETER DUNBAR Peter Dunbar died on Wednesday, 28th September, 2005. Peter, the "quiet man" of our bass section and a well-known farmer, was found by his son after failing to return from checking his stock. Just the night before, Peter had been rehearsing a scene from "Brigadoon" with the men of the Society.Peter had appeared in all the shows his profession allowed since joining us in 2000 for "Fiddler on the Roof". Before that, he had been a stalwart of Airdrie & Coatbridge AOS for many years. Peter loved his stage work and had been greatly looking forward to playing the part of Andrew MacKeith in "Brigadoon". He had a pawky sense of humour, which came to the fore when he was one of a trio performing "Wullie Brewed a Peck O' Malt" in our revue "This One's For You" at the GLO Centre, Motherwell in 2003. Peter Dunbar will be sorely missed and we send our love and sympathy to Moira and the family.The funeral services at his own church at Glenmavis, where he was an elder, and at Daldowie Crematorium were packed with his many family and friends. His favourite John Denver recording of "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" was fitting "play-out" music for this lovely man.
CARDINAL THOMAS J WINNINGLike many people throughout Scotland and the world, Society members were stunned by the sudden death of Cardinal Winning. A former pupil of Our Lady's High School, he was a friend and supporter of the Society for many years. It was an honour and privilege for us to have him as our guest at our shows. One of our happiest recollections is the evening on which he attended "La Vie Parisienne" in November 1994, his first local public appearance after the announcement of his elevation. He was given a standing ovation by the cast and audience. He is greatly missed.
TOM MALEY was a man of dedication and commitment, a man of strong convictions which he had no hesitation in expressing, even when not finding favour with everyone. However, no one can doubt his enthusiasm for, and sincerity in, everything he undertook.During several pilgrimages abroad to Rome and Krakow with his parish I got an insight into his eager commitment, as the principal organiser of these trips, to detail and efficiency in all the arrangements.This should hardly have come as a surprise as I had worked with Tom on the Operatic Society’s committees over many years and witnessed at first hand his organisational skills.Tom, with Rose, joined the Society in the early ‘70s and took part in committee work as President, Treasurer and Secretary for many years, in the show selection committee and more recently collector of props. He performed in almost all the shows.Probably his proudest hour came in 1975, when, as Society President, he was presented on our behalf with the Waterford International Trophy for Light Opera for our production of “The Gypsy Baron” at the Festival that year. He was very keen on our trips to Waterford and was very much involved in arranging details for hese visits to Ireland.Ten years ago, for the Society’s celebration of its Ruby anniversary he undertook to try to contact all previous members of the Society, totalling almost 600! Few worked as hard as Tom for the best interests of the Club.His sudden death on Friday 12th October can hardly be taken in by those of us who knew him over so many years. His death has been a severe blow to the Society. He will be sadly missed by us all. To Moira and all Tom’s family and friends we extend our heartfelt sympathy and ongoing prayers as well as a pledge of our support in the days and months ahead.Requiescat in Pace. CRL