top of page

Belgium Tour

9th - 12th June 2017

In June 2017 Voices in Achord are travelling to the town of  Ypres in Belgium for  a very special occasion.

At 8pm on Friday 9th June 2017 they are to take part in the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial singing two pieces of music during the wreath laying part of the ceremony.

It is a great honour for Voices in Achord  to be able to sing on this very special evening having successfully gone through the selection procedure, with the Last Post Association in Ypres, in order to take part.

The following evening, Saturday 10th June, Voices in Achord will be performing a full concert in St Georges Memorial Church in Ypres town centre.


Voices in Achord are delighted that the Mayor of Stockport, Councillor Linda Holt, will be attending the 'Remember Me' Battle of Messines Centenary Concert 1917 -2017

Special Concert in Stockport - Saturday 3rd June 2017


' REMEMBER ME ' Battle of Messines Centenary Concert  1917  -  2017



Planning for the tour of Belgium and ViA singing at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres is progressing and we can now give the details for a special concert,  'Remember Me,'  to be held at Stockport War Memorial/Art Gallery at 7pm on Saturday 3rd June 2017 which will be a reflection of our contribution to the Last Post Ceremony the following Friday at the Menin Gate  Ceremony and our concert being held in St Georges Memorial Church in Ypres.


This will be an opportunity to remember and honour Private 54165 William Brown  DLI  and all Stockport soldiers who fought 100 years ago - the centenary anniversary of the Battle of Messines.

The concert will start at 7pm and the music will include:

Ave Verum Corpus - Mozart

Grace before sleep - Susan La Barr adapted words of a poem by Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)

The Lord's my shepherd - premier performance of a new and exiting arrangement written for us by our musical director Patrick Broderick

Gaelic Blessing - Rutter

Keep the home fires burning - Novello words by Lena Guilbert Ford

At about 7.45pm we will try to capture some of the atmosphere of being present at the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres at the Last Post Ceremony.

Voices in Achord will sing the three pieces they will be singing a few days later at the Menin Gate:

Be still my Soul - a beautiful arrangement by Alan Troy Davis of this well loved hymn to the tune of Finlandia

Calling my Children Home - new words written for this very special occasion dedicated to Private 53165 William Brown and all Stockport Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice 100 years ago.

They shall grow not old - a haunting and beautiful arrangement by Albert Greer of the poem of Laurence Binyon

At one minute to eight o'clock there will be a minutes silence followed by a bugler playing the Last Post, as played at the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, every evening.

The final piece of the concert will be Voices in Achord singing a hymn of hope for the future:

Lord, Help us live in Peace - J D Martin arr. Larry Nickel

Seat numbers are limited for this concert and unfortunately disabled access is also limited.

Tickets are £10.00 and are available on line at, from Appleton & Green Insurance, 345 Wellington Road Nth, Heaton Chapel, Stockport, or telephone at 01484 847169 or 07710042088.

                          TICKETS AVAILABLE ON THE DOOR


The Story behind the tour:

Private 54165 William Brown 12th. Bn. Durham Light Infantry, was the only son of  Thomas and Mary Ann Brown of 1 Bently Street, Lancashire Hill, Stockport. He was also my Great Uncle.

On the evening of the 6th June 1917 he was with his comrades resting somewhere on the ramparts which surround the Belgium town of Ypres. The evening would not have been pleasant as it was reported that there was a thunderstorm during the evening

Sometime after mid-night they were ordered forward towards Hill 60 to wait in the assembly trenches.

At 0300hrs the following morning, Thursday the 7th day of June 1917, the Battle of Messines offensive commenced  with mines being detonated under the German trenches along the Messines Ridge followed by an advance of the allied troops across the thick wet mud in no mans land.

My Great Uncle was just 24 years old when he was reported missing in action on the 7th June 1917. He has no grave, he just has his name engraved on panel 36-38 of the Menin Gate Memorial.

Between the 1st and 12th June 1917 there were 24,562 casualties and losses of the combined allied troops.

In June 2017 it will be 100 years since my Great Uncle was reported missing in action and, although I have had the honour of visiting the Menin Gate twice before, our family agreed that it would be fitting that we attend the Menin Gate in June 2017 to celebrate his short life and to lay a wreath in his memory.

I was so pleased, proud and grateful that my friends in Voices in Achord agreed to travel to Ypres with us  to sing at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate on the evening of Friday 9th June 2017.

Roy Bowden

Bass - Voices in Achord


                                             Private 54165 Willam Brown 12th. BT. Durham Light Infantry












Music for the Last Post Ceremony, Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres


One of the pieces of music Voices in Achord will be singing at the wreath laying part of the Last Post Ceremony will be an arrangement of Calling my Children Home  which is currently part of our repertoire.  ( see Repertoire web page - Popular/Modern for recording )

This has been re-worded by Roy Bowden in memory of his great uncle and is appropriate for this very special occasion.

Calling my Children Home

original words & music by Lawson, Waller & Yates arr. Matthew D Oltman

new wording by D R Bowden

Those lives were ours to love and cherish,

to love and share along life's way.

Oh God forbid that one should perish,

in foreign fields in war some day.

Back in the years with all together,

around our homes we'd romp and play.

So lonely now I oft' times wonder,

where did they go that fateful day.

We're lonesome for our precious loved ones,

they died so far away.

Oh may they hear our callin'

and come back home some day.

They gave their lives for our dear children.

Their selfless act we could not share.

In mud and mire they fought the action.

The shells and bullets did not care.

They gave their lives for all our children.

A war to end all wars and strife.

I hope and pray we'll live together,

in that great glad hereafter life.

I'm lonesome for my precious loved one.

He died so far away.

Oh may he hear my callin', callin',

and come back home some day.

We're lonesome for our precious loved ones,

they died so far away.

Oh let them hear our callin', callin'.

Lest we forget someday.


















We were delighted that the Mayor of Stockport Councilor Linda Holt attended at this very special concert of music to remember and honour the sacrifice and courage of so many Stockport men during WW1 and in particular Private William Brown 54165 12th Bat. DLI.

The concert started at 7pm prompt, timing was going to play an important and crucial part of this event,

Voices in Achord opened with​ an unacompanied version of We are not alone followed by Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus accompanied by Chris Cotton on the piano.

Two short peices, Non Nobis and Deo Gratias by Willam Byrd were followed by The Lord's my shepherd written by the ensembles musical director Patrick Broderick.

The group then sang an arrangement of one of the most popular  WW1 songs witten by Ivor Novello, Keep the home fires burning to which the audience were invited to join in on the last verse.



















There were further eclectic and thought provoking pieces to entertain the audience by John Rutter, Dolly Parton, Susan La Barr and Arthur Sullivan.

At 7.45pm the lights were dimmed and the room hushed. A photograph of the Menin Gate Memorial was projected onto the wall giving the audience the essence of being in the town of Ypres at the Last Post Ceremony itself.


















Voices in Achord sang the two pieces that they were to sing a few days later at the Last Post Ceremony in Ypres.

The wonderful accoustics of the upper gallery only added to the atmosphere of the warm evening with the unacompanied singing of Voices in Achord, in a beautiful and moving arrangement of  Be still my soul , which echoed around the building, the words and music being given an almost ethereal quality. 

The second piece, Calling my children home, had been given new lyrics, specially written for this occasion and in particular in memory of Private William Brown, the great uncle of ViA member Roy, who was lost on the 7th June 1917 - the first day of the battle of Messines.

The atmosphere in the room was very emotional  as the closing words wafted through the building......

We're lonesome for our precious loved ones,

they died so far away.

Oh let them hear our callin', callin'.

Lest we forget one day.

As time ticked on towards 8pm ViA concluded this part of the concert with a very moving vocal arrangement by Albert Greer  of the famous poem of Laurence Binyon - They shall grow not old.

As the last  strains of the music drifted on through the building the audience stood for the Exhortation from      'For the Fallen' by L Binyon followed by a minutes silence.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.

At 8pm, exactly the same as the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate, bugler Paul Wilkinson standing amongst the names of all the Stockport men who fell in WW1, played the Last Post.






The final piece of the evening was a hymn of hope for the future sung by Voices in Achord

Lord, Help us live in Peace.

( Photographs Kathryn Rosati - Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery )


9th  JUNE 2017


10th JUNE 2017

It was a very early start for the group to board the 0600 flight on the Friday morning from Manchester to Brussels and then a drive by coach from the airport to the beautiful town of Ypres.

There was glorious sunshine on our arrival in Ypres and we were soon booked into the Novotel Hotel which was to be our base for the following four days.

A mid afternoon meal was followed by a rehearsal ready for the Last Post Ceremony at 8pm that evening.










We had to be at the Gate by 7pm where we met with Chairman Benoit Mottrie of the Last Post Association who gave us our final instructions in respect of where we were to stand whilst singing and the timings of the various aspects of the Ceremony.

As we stood under the arch of the Gate there was time to look at this most magnificent structure seeing all the names on the panels of the lost and fallen from all four corners of the  world and  understanding why WW1 was called a world war.














The crowds attending the ceremony started to assemble, over a thousand of them with seventeen wreaths being laid that evening,  including a wreath for Stockport born Private William Brown 54165 12th Bt. DLI, the great uncle of ViA member Roy whose cousin Sheila, daughter Sarah and his 3 yrs old grand daughter Grace, were going to make the walk across the gate, up the steps and place the wreath on the stand. Three generations of Uncle Willie.

As the massive crowd chatted waiting for eight o'clock the noise they communitavely made was quite lound as the buglers from the local fire service marched along the road  and came to attention under the arch. There was an air of anticipation as that certain hour approached the quiet voice of Benoit Mottrie came over the microphone with the Call to Attention and the assembled crowd hushed. It was quite eirie standing under the arch of the Menin Gate with so many people and yet there was not a sound or a murmer from anywhere.

Then came the haunting sound of the bugles echoing through the arch with the so familiar Last Post.  As the last note of the bugle drifted away in the warm evening air the Exhortation, from ' For the Fallen' by L Binyon was read out followed by a minutes silence.
















​​​​After the lament , the wreath bearers readied and we were given the nod.

As the first wreath was carried accross the Memorial it was now the time for ViA to play their part.

Whilst waiting for the ceremony to start we each wondered how eleven of us were going to fill the Memorial Arch with sound given the size of the place and the numbers gathered.  It had been a long wait but ViA were ready. Our musical director Patrick gave us the notes, four beats in and we started Calling my Children Home  the new word written especially for Private William Brown;

The crowd were so silent, the moment just right, the two years in the planning and the weeks of rehearsal were in the past. We were in the present. The concentration by all of the group was palpable, the time and place so special that the music just happened and in a breath the first piece was over.

The nod came again and ViA excelled again with a beautiful arrangement of Be still my soul and all to soon our part in the ceremony was over. It had been a long day but the ocassion had lifted us. We had done what we had set out to do. We had sung well, very well, but there is no applause at all at the Ceremony so it was impossible to know how the gathered had responded to it.

With military precision all the wreaths having been carried to their resting place the ceremony had almost reached its conclusion. As the buglers last notes of the Reveille drifted out from the arch into the cooling evening air it was all over.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​With so many people trying to leave along the narrow streets back into the town we just stayed where we were trying to take in what had just occurred. It was so pleasing that so many of those gathered who had been watching and listening  came to speak with us, thanking us for our participation and expressing their delight in the music we had chosen to sing.


















ViA had not taken part in the Ceremony to receive any thanks but the fact that so many people took the time to came to us after to do so it just added to what was a very rewarding experence.


It was late by the time we all wandered back into the town to find somewhere we could relax, have a drink and a meal together. It had been rather a long day.











bottom of page