Sheila Joynes's Musical Diary

Pershore High School Trip

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It was a first for Pershore High School’s Orchestra – a trip to foreign lands. Helen Witherick, a close friend of mine for the last 12 years or more, who is head of Music at the school, organised it all through CASTERBRIDGE TOURS and it was a huge success.

I went as one of the staff of four and took Billy the Bass with me to add some weight (!) to their two cellists, both of whom are pupils of mine. Also on the staff were Debbie Fawcett, superb viola (and violin teacher) and Peter Butler, an ex-army KNELLER HALL trained trumpeter, who was conducting the orchestra.

We left Pershore at 4.45am (Yawn!) on Monday 17th and arrived at our destination, Valkenburg in Holland, in the early evening. We had some time to settle in and find the local band-stand, have a meal and get the kids (27 fo them, 14 to 16 year-old) to bed. I know they were pretty tired and ready to sleep but they were exceptionally well-behaved right from the first moment all through the trip. Even the waitress complimented their behaviour and both the Hotel Manager and the bus-driver were at pains to tell the children how much they had enjoyed looking after them.

On Tuesday we went to the caves at Remouchamps in Belgium – a long walk through the stalactites and stalagmites then a gentle boat trip back, all in cool conditions. Then we did a concert in the bandstand at Valkenburg at mid-day in soaring temperatures. This was followed by another cooling visit to caves in the town under the local castle.

Wednesday found us in Germany in the pretty spa town of Bad Neuenahr, performing in a beautiful concert hall while the temperature outside reached 40 centigrade!

On Thursday we performed outside THE MAZE at VAALS, which has a tower in the centre from which you can see threee countries, Belgium, Holland and Germany. This was followed by a visit to the American War Graves between there and Maastricht, a sobering sight for all of us. Then a boat trip on the river Maas, a bit of shopping and back to Valkenburg for a well deserved ice cream all round!

The journey home on Friday was the only problem part of our trip – the M25 was closed at one point and our 9pm ETA turned into an after-midnight arrival. The kids just sang all the way through all the hold-ups!

I have to say, there was a point just before departure when I was thinking, “Why am I doing this?” Now I have to say – I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Congratulations, Pershore High School! You have a bunch of kids to be proud of, not only in their music-making, but their polite manners, humour, sense of responsibilty and friendliness.

Can I go again next time, please?

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