Gil Ryder

A long-standing member of the Club, shortly after joining, was amazed when the guy in front of him on the risers said ‘I think I have some bad news for you’! Expecting to have an adverse comment about his singing, George Badland asked what that might be, only to discover and recall that he and Gil had both been in the same 2030 Squadron ATC some 40 years or so previously. At that time Gil was the Mace bearer whilst George was a bugler. This was their first meeting after all those years.

Gil’s lovely rich bass voice was a fine contribution to our sound, but gradually his health began to fail as serious heart problems gradually grew worse, and eventually things deteriorated to the point where he needed a heart transplant. Those of us in the Chorus at that time well recall his admission to Papworth Hospital, which at that time was one of just two hospitals in the country undertaking transplants. What was not so well known was the fact that the ambulance taking Gil down to Papworth for his surgery got lost en route and eventually came across another ambulance fortuitously heading in the same direction. It transpired that the second ambulance was taking a patient to receive the lungs from the same organ donor – an amazing coincidence.

His operation was a great success and he returned to his hobby in good shape. To recognise the contribution made by the Hospital the chorus went down to Papworth Hospital to sing for one of their Open Days, of all things travelling there and back on a double decker ‘bus !  True to form, Gil turned up dressed as a Conductor for the trip – a quite memorable and enjoyable day out.

With his friend Ron and ably supported by their wives, Olive and Jean, Gil organised several car boot sales for which chorus Members contributed items with all proceeds going to the Club. Anyone who has been to such a sale will appreciate the effort involved and the two guys worked tirelessly to do this to help the Club. This was formally recognised when Gil and Ron jointly won the Joe Riseborough Rosebowl for outstanding contributions to the Club. Gil was also a motorcycle fanatic sharing this interest with John Baker both of whom could tell many a tale about their various exploits.

Sadly, and in large part due to the anti-rejection drugs he needed to take, Gil’s health later deteriorated and he could no longer make it to rehearsals, although he would call in periodically to see how we were doing and to renew his many friendships in the Chorus.  Many will recall his final visit at which stage he was terminally ill and when he insisted on saying his farewells to each member there that night. He was presented with a specially recorded and unique CD of the Chorus titled ‘Under the Direction Of ‘ which contained many of the then recent Convention performances of Anvil Chorus.

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