By Carl Llewellyn

It was with much regret when I heard of the passing of Derek Powell. He was considered the oracle of the choir, a man of wit and satire whose words of wisdom were always appreciated by the Choir intellectuals.

Derek was born and bred in Bargoed where he began his working life as an apprentice Electrician with the National Coal Board. Being of an ambitious nature, when he gained some worthwhile qualifications he left the Coal Board and joined the S.W. Electricity Board. It wasn’t long before his managerial qualities were noticed and he was promoted to a rank of Engineer extraordinaire, serving a total of 30 years 

Derek was a very musical person and it came as no surprise when he joined the Bargoed Male choir, where he was a chorister for 14 years. In this time he became firm friends with the musical director Cliff Horell, and for three years became a member of the Phoenix Singers.

Derek was a traditionalist and preferred quality and tone in choir and it’s this reason why he felt the need to expand his musical horizons and join the Dowlais Male choir, in turn celebrating over 25 years as a Dowlais male choir chorister.

In 1988 Astronaut Daffydd Rhys Williams presented Derek with a framed picture and the taped recording of the choir that was taken aboard the shuttle Columbia. Derek’s daughter Amanda, a BBC producer was responsible for arranging things when she made a programme about the number of people working at NASA who were of Welsh ancestry.

As we know, Derek was not a controversial person, so it was no surprise Derek became a chorister with the Jones’ Choir that toured South Africa 1981. It was the time of the Anti-Apartheid Movement and any cultural, sporting or business links with the South African regime were actively discouraged. However, Derek with his diplomatic style and ambassadorial tack returned unscathed.

Derek also joined the Lion’s Choir for their 2009 tour of South Africa.  

We must not forget Derek’s love of sport and his association with Cardiff Athletic Club, where he hob knobbed with some of Wales’ legend rugby players and gave them some of his valuable advice. 

We also remember Derek’s affiliation with Clive Phillips and Colin Marshallsea, who Derek assisted, with his musical intonation and his jocular banter.   

It was a sad day for Derek when his wife Diana passed away, as she was his rock and gave him the support in his musical interests. His two children Amanda and David give proof of his happy years with Diana.  

Although his health had not been too good he still made great efforts to attend rehearsals when he was well enough, demonstrating the love of singing was still in his heart. Nature was not kind to Derek and he suffered in his latter days. Choir and Rugby were his obsession and they were important to him until his last breath. Derek can only be described as a loyal and dedicated chorister who embodied a great passion for choral singing and was proud to be associated with the Dowlais Male Choir.   

It is Derek’s time to leave us and so we say a fond farewell. The words written by HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW and sung by male voice choristers to the well known musical  item “Nidaros” are a dedication to Derek Powell:

 “The dawn is not distant,
Nor is the night starless;
Love is eternal!
God is still God, and
His faith shall not fail us;
Christ is eternal!” 

I’ll end my tribute to Derek with two quotes by  HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW:

The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can do well, and doing well whatever you do without thought of fame. If it comes at all it will come because it is deserved, not because it is sought after.

Music is the universal language of mankind.

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