by a founder member

The Elm Singers really emerged, like a phoenix, out of the Grove Singers.  The Grove Singers were started about 1970 by Dr David Adderley who lived in a house in Belmont Hill, Lewisham called "The Grove".  He asked a number of his singing friends to join him and initially they met in his house.  Margaret Cadney was a founder member and, I think, Celia Spence, and maybe Ruth Gribble.  I joined in about 1973/4.  The original conductor was Percy Corben, who had started the Goldsmiths' Choir - not the Choral Union - in 1950.  Both David and Margaret and I were members of the Goldsmiths' Choir.

The Grove Singers flourished and grew.  Eventually they used to meet regularly at the Meeting House in Blackheath.  After Percy Corben's untimely death, we had other conductors, including John Webber.  The last conductor was Beverley Howard, but at that time the group had shrunk and almost come to an end.  In about 1992/3 we heard that David had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.  Mercifully, it was slow-growing, but, alas, was inoperable.  I thought, in the circumstances, it might be rather nice to arrange for David to see his old Grove friends at a party in his honour.  I spoke to David about it.  He was delighted. He gave me a list of names and addresses and I sent letters to them all.  They had scattered far and wide, and one couple had gone to live abroad!  Finally, I had a list of people who were interested and I gave them some dates.  I picked the most popular date and arranged a buffet party.  I have an entry in my diary: "Grove Party here on 23rd January, 1993!"  David's tumour was not disabling at this stage and he and his wife Jean came.  It was a jolly party.  Beverley and Geoff Howard came and also John Webber and his wife, Maggie.  At the end of the evening we sang madrigals, with John conducting us.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it.  Also present was Brigid who, before her marriage to Dr Howard Reeve (when they both went to live in Woodbridge in Suffolk), used to sing 2nd soprano with the Grove Singers.   As everyone was saying how much they missed singing madrigals, Brigid said she'd try to arrange something at her home.

Unfortunately it was not possible to meet again for some time.  David and Jean Adderley had already gone to live in Faversham, and on 4th April 1994 I have a diary entry: "David's ramble in Faversham", and then, on 17th May 1994: "David and Jean came with other friends for a meal".  However, David's tumour worsened and on 22nd January 1995, he died.  On 22nd February 1995 there was a memorial concert for him.  It wasn't until 12th August 1995, that Brigid had her madrigal day in Woodbridge.  Not all the people who came to my house could make the visit to Suffolk, but there were sufficient people to sing, and we had a lovely time.   John and Maggie were there and John was persuaded to start a new madrigal group in London.  Accordingly, we had our first meeting on Sunday, 8th October 1995, either at my house or John's.  Our second meeting was on Sunday, 19th November at Margaret's.

As for the change of name for our group, we discovered that Beverley Howard had taken a group down to David in Faversham and asked if she could use the name of the Grove for her singing group!  As there couldn't be two groups called "The Grove" in the same area, we had to have a new name.  As John lives in Elm Road in Beckehham, we became the "Elm Singers".

It is difficult to remember who was present at our first meeting, but certainly Margaret Cadney, Ruth Gribble and I sang soprano, and Celia Spence and Betty Judge sang alto.  Of the basses I think there were Derek Cox, Paul Harris and Michael Scott.  Terry Heard was with us fairly early on as tenor, but I am not sure who else was there.  Gradually the group has grown larger with people John knew - Barbara Smith and others, like Claudine and Maggie Whisson, who came from Blackheath Choir.