Monday, 17 June 2013

Birthday Honour

I have only very rarely departed from my 'rule' of not referring to clan members who are alive. However, this is one such an occasion. Queen Elizabeth II has two birthdays - her own and an 'official' one, always on a Saturday in June. On that day some of the British Nation's superb pageantry takes place, as it did last Saturday, such as the 'Trooping of the Colour'. Also on Her Majesty's 'official birthday' there are published the names of the people to whom she is granting 'honours'. Mostly these are people who have done significant things in their local community and who have worked to promote charities. This year over a thousand such honours were granted, over a half to women.

Sometimes these people are referred to as the 'unsung heroes' of the nation. I think it is probable that Clan McIlhagga has never had a member so honoured, but from Saturday last this cannot be said, for Dorothy Sheila McIlhagga was granted the British Empire Medal for services to Music and to the Local Community. The citation, published in The London Gazette, specially mentions that she is the Founder of the Oldershaw Singers. The 'Singers' have been, and are, a fine choir in the Wallasey and the Wirral area of the County of Cheshire. For many years this choir has performed at concerts which have raised many thousands of pounds for charity. They are still trained and conducted by Dorothy, a very active retired music teacher now in her 77th year.

Dorothy trained professionally on the piano and organ at the Royal Manchester College of Music under Professor Gordon Green. She taught first in the city of Liverpool and then in Wallasey on the Wirral where she became Head of Music and Fine Arts at Oldershaw Grammar School (first for girls, the a Comprehensive Coeducational School). For many years she has been the organist at a Presbyterian (then United Reformed, then URC-Methodist) Church. In recent years she has also been the Guest Musical Director of St. James' Church of England, New Brighton and has conducted its choir in many English Cathedrals when it has been the visiting choir leading Evensong at holiday times. Our sincere congratulations go to Dorothy who clearly richly deserves her B.E.M.

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