Victor still in First Larne choir after 50 years

A presentation to mark over 50 years' service in First Larne Choir by Victor McDowell was made during morning service on Sunday May 5 by Kenneth McKinley, clerk of session. Also pictured is Rev Dr. Colin McClure, minister and Sheelagh Greer, organist and choir director. INLT 20-656-CON victor
A presentation to mark over 50 years' service in First Larne Choir by Victor McDowell was made during morning service on Sunday May 5 by Kenneth McKinley, clerk of session. Also pictured is Rev Dr. Colin McClure, minister and Sheelagh Greer, organist and choir director. INLT 20-656-CON victor
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A PRESENTATION has been made to a long-standing member of the choir at First Larne Presbyterian Church.

Victor McDowell received the gift of a watch for his 50 years’ service after Sunday morning worship recently.

The presentation was made by clerk of session Kenneth McKinley.

Mr. McDowell said: “It is nice to be remembered in this way. I was not expecting it at all.”

He indicated that he has been singing in the church choir for the past 54 years.

“I was 16 when I joined the choir. I was involved with the youth club at First Larne. I appeared in the first pantomime as Baron Hard-up as Cinderella’s father.”

He recalled that unknown to him, his future wife Deborah had been in the audience.

He went on to say that he was encouraged by his Sunday School teacher Joe Wallace to join the choir and as a natural baritone, was further encouraged to sing bass.

When Esme McConnell took over as organist, following the retirement of William Yeats, who was in his nineties, Victor was given further help with his singing.

“She encouraged me to sing solo,” he said.

Solo performances followed not just at First Larne but also at Craigyhill Methodist Church at Orange services, at harvest services and with Larne Choral Society.

However, Victor suffered a setback five or six years ago due to a minor stroke.

“My voice wasn’t great for a while, but it is coming back again,” he said.

Victor has been singing since he was eight or nine years old when, as a young soprano, he was invited to entertain at teas in the former Factory Hall, at Old Glenarm Road.

He has also provided vocals at family weddings over the years.

He says that his favourite hymn is “When He cometh to take up His Jewels”.

“I have grown up singing harmony. A lot of new hymns do not have harmony.

“I like melody, but I like hymns with harmony.”

Victor indicated that there are just seven male members of the choir at First Larne Presbyterian Church.

Practice takes place one a week. The piano, he says, is always tuned to concert pitch.

“My voice has come back again. It is a big part of my life. I have no plans to retire while my voice is strong,” said Victor.