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Evening of tributes to Willenhall singer who still delights with his voice

Wolverhampton | Entertainment | Published:

He joined the choir in 1951 at the youthful age of 21 – not that long after leaving the Royal Air Force.

Today, 65 years on, William 'Billy' Blower is still bringing audiences to tears with his moving solos for the Wolverhampton Orpheus Male Voice Choir (WOMVC).

More than 70 people packed into the Goodyear Pavilion on Saturday to mark his service to the choir – of which he is the longest-serving member.

Mayor Ian Brookfield also attended the three-course dinner, where certificates were presented to Mr Blower and tributes paid to him.

The 86-year-old, of Noose Lane in Willenhall, said: "I have really enjoyed today, I didn't expect it.

"A lot of friends are here old and new, as well as the Mayor and Mayoress.

Bill, third from left in the back row, with the choir in the 1950s

"I feel very humble to have had all of this put on for me."

In his early life, young William worked on a milk round and then at Butler's Brewery until he served with the RAF between 1947 and 1949 – fulfilling his national service obligation in the process.

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He joined the church choir in Heath Town before joining the group at St Barnabas, where he met and later married his wife June – who he has been with for 55 years since.

Mr Blower also joined the Trinity Operatic Society before becoming a member of the WOMVC and adding his powerful voice to their performances.

He said of the move between choirs: "I joined when I was 21.

"I was singing at the time and my dad said I had a meeting with the Orpheus Male Voice Choir.

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"I went up there, they gave me a voice test and they accepted me."

Bill, left, receiving his award for 25 years' service

Since then, he has performed some 370 solos, boasting a repertoire of around 40 songs.

He added: "As long as I can be of any help to the choir I will carry on."

Paying tribute, musical director Graham Hancox said: "The dulcet tenor tones of 'Uncle Bill' have reduced congregations to tears at many family weddings, with his rendition of 'I'll walk beside you'.

"But possibly everyone's favourite solo is that of 'The Three Bells' – the song which documents three stages of the life of Jimmy Brown."

The choir is looking for new male singers, young or old, to join Bill and his comrades for performances.

It practises on Wednesday evenings, between 7.30pm and 9.30pm at St John's Methodist Church, Wolverhampton Road East, Parkfields. It is a traditional male choir, and has a varied repertoire of more than 100 pieces.

Members also perform songs from some well-known musicals.

Mayor of Wolverhampton Ian Brookfield leads the tributes to Bill

They have performed at at range of venues across the UK, covering a variety of special events and occasions, and in recent years have even ventured abroad to perform for audiences. The choir has around 25 members divided in to four sections; 1st tenors, 2nd tenors, baritones and basses.

They are currently low on members who can sing on the lower voice ranges – the bass and baritone sections.

The choir is also seeking a deputy music director and an assistant pianist.

They are a registered charity, and every year members sing to raise money for many charitable causes. Last year, they partnered with The Royal British Legion.

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