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Roy Pugh - Vice President Morriston Orpheus Choir

Sunday March 23rd 2014 will forever remain a date that Richard Royston Pugh, better known as Roy to the general public, but more commonly as Pughie to his friends in the Morriston Orpheus Choir , will remember with a great deal of pride. That was the date when at the Choir’s Annual General Meeting he was unanimously elected to the prestigious role of Vice President of the Morriston Orpheus Choir. This was a richly deserved and possibly a long overdue honour for a chorister who for most of the past 40 years has held at one time or another most of the major offices of the Choir.


Roy Pugh was born in 1932 in Gelli in the Rhondda Fawr (Roy insists the “Fawr” is important) and spent his early life in Cwmparc.   He was employed at Parc Colliery before joining the RAF. It was during this period when on leave from an RAF posting in Germany that he met the young lady who was to become his soulmate and the love of his life, Olive. When his period of service in the RAF ended, Roy returned to the Rhondda.  In 1957 the two events which were to fashion the rest of his life took place. He married Olive, and joined the Glamorgan Constabulary. In 1969 Roy was posted outside the Rhondda, to Neath, having been promoted to Sergeant, and it was in Neath that the pair made their permanent home, and where Roy still lives today. 


In 1974, along with a fellow Rhondda “deserter”, Ray Smith, Roy joined the Morriston Orpheus Choir, Roy as a second tenor, Ray as a baritone. This was the beginning of probably the second major factor in Roy’s life. In 1978, he became the Choir’s registrar, and this was followed in 1981 when he was elected to be the Choir’s general secretary, a post he initially held for 20 years. During that period the Choir’s general secretary’s duties included tours, TV and radio engagements, recordings and photocopying, which are now carried out by designated officers. He resigned as general secretary in 2001, but took up the cudgels again in 2011. He takes great pride as well in being the Choir’s archivist/annalist, and has served as the Choir’s Social secretary for 8 years.


During the periods when he has held these positions, Roy has organised tours to West Berlin (3 times), France (2 times) North America (2 times) Spain and Eire.  He also made the domestic arrangements for the Choir’s participation in special events such as the Royal Fireworks at Hyde Park, the Pope’s visit to Wales and the appearance with the “Alarm” on the Terry Wogan Show in Hammersmith. In addition, he organised the Choir celebration dinner/dances for the 1985 Golden Jubilee and the 1995 and 2010 Anniversary celebrations. Up until her untimely death in 2007, Olive was Roy’s inseparable partner in all aspects of his life, and this was especially true of her contribution to the Choir. In many respects she was his co secretary.


During his time in the Choir Roy has sung under 5 conductors (Lynn Harry, Leslie Ryan, Alwyn Humphreys, Sian Pearce, and Joy Amman Davies), 6 accompanists and countless committee members. He quite rightly claims that one of the most important requirements for a successful secretary of any organisation is diplomacy and the ability to deal with the diverse characteristics and characters which you will find in an organisation such as the Choir with over 100 members. Roy has certainly been successful in this.


When asked, what were the highlights of his time in the Choir, Roy has particular memories of his first tour of North America in 1975. The flight from Cardiff to New York was diverted at the last minute to Newark because of an “incident”. It was Roy’s first flight and his first visit outside Europe. What a way to begin! He also has fond memories of all the tours, the prestigious venues the Choir has sang in throughout the world, sharing the stage with world famous artistes, Royal events, recording at Abbey Road studios and his involvement with the Young Welsh Singer of the Year competition. He also highlighted the many friends made both inside and outside the Choir, in particular Dr Wally Landers from Hamilton in Ontario, and Major Sir Michael Parker KCVO, CBE.


Being a successful secretary of an organisation like the Morriston Orpheus takes a great amount of time and effort. Roy has however also managed to fulfil numerous roles within MOCSA, the Choir’s Supporters Association of which he is currently the Secretary. His contribution there has previously been recognised with the Association making him a Vice President. It doesn’t stop there however as Roy is an avid supporter of   the Ospreys whom he follows on many of their continental visits. He was Chairman and Secretary of the local branch of CAMRA, and also takes a keen interest in family history.   


Partaking actively in all these activities would be taxing to younger and fitter individuals. That Roy has managed all these while suffering quite badly from arthritis speaks very highly of a very special man, and it is the Morriston Orpheus’ fortune to have had such a person in its ranks for the past 40 years.


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