It’s official: Glyn Evans (99) from Wellington is the country’s oldest Barbers’ Shop Chorus singer, a landmark achievement confirmed by the British Association of Barbers’ Shop Singers.
Glyn celebrated his 99th birthday in February with a party at his local, The Cottage in Swains Lane, attended by more than 30 of the Rivertones, the Barbers’ Shop Chorus he founded in Taunton in 1983.
As his name suggests, Glyn is a Welshman. He said, “I started singing at Pontypridd Baptist Chapel when I was still in Infants’ School and I’ve been singing all my life since then. I had 3 brothers and 2 sisters and we used to sing in the St David’s Day Parades round the town. Since then I’ve always sung the harmony parts and every voice too – bass, baritone, even soprano – and I can still sing in Welsh.”
Glyn was considering a career as a dental surgeon when WW2 broke out. He joined the Tank Regiment and saw action in countries around the Mediterranean. “After the war I needed to go to university to train,” he explained, “but then my sister, who was a teacher, suggested I do a teacher conversion course instead. When I qualified I wanted to find a school in small county town where there was something going on – and chose Wellington. My first school was in Coram’s Lane (now the Adult Education Centre) and when that became Beech Grove I went there and stayed until I retired. One of my former pupils, Peter Glover, is now Rivertones Chorus Director.”
“When I founded Rivertones Chorus we used to meet in The Ship Inn but now the group practises in Bishop Henderson’s School in Taunton. I still sing with them – but only the songs I know as it’s not easy for me to read scores now.”
Glyn and Rivertones have sung “all over Europe” and the chorus still performs for charity (and pleasure) in church halls and community centres. Glyn is now Life-President of the chorus and can still be persuaded to sing from his regular stool at the bar of The Cottage.