A Tribute to John Wiggins – Our Founder
This is a salute to one man who had a tremendous influence on the early history days of BABS. He started in 1974 when he joined the Reading chorus to sing in the first Convention in Newcastle. Although starting as a Bari he soon moved on to sing Tenor and had early success with his quartet “Union Jacks” in 1977 where they were quartet finalists.He repeated this in 1982 with “Yesterdays Dreamers” where they were again quartet finalists and in 1981 they were the very first BABS quartet to attend the S.P.E.B.S.Q.A Harmony College in St. Joseph, Missouri.
Later in 1975 he went on to form, with 7 others, the “Chesham Buckaneers” now know as “Knights of Harmony”. He has been with the Knights ever since except when he was the founder of the now-defunct “Gentlemen Songsters”. John worked hard to produce his “dream” chorus and it was a great disappointment to him when it folded.
He is unparalleled in the various BABS posts he has undertaken over his 45 years in Barbershop and these include, in chronological order:
- Harmony College Organiser 1981 and ran arranging classes at HC for over 20 years
- Guild of Judges Chairman 1984/5
- BABS Chairman 1987
- Special Events Director 1995
- Convention Show Producer for several years working with his wife Gina
In 2004 came the recognition of his contribution to BABS, when along with 17 others he was enrolled in the BABS ‘Hall of Fame’
John has been responsible for dozens of arrangements which many choruses and quartets included in their repertoire and he intends to continue even after retirement from chorus
It has been my great pleasure since I joined Chesham in 1980 to count John as a friend and his importance to the development of a hobby that has been loved by more than 10000 Barbershoppers to date cannot be underestimated
When Peter Hawes trained as a carpenter he learned to cut joints so tight and precise that the parts stuck together without glue.
Thirty-plus years later he’s honing his skills to achieve the same quality in his close harmony singing with the Knights.
Peter sings lead – ‘the most important part’ – and always aims to do it with the same accuracy and exactness of pitch as he did cutting and chiselling a mitre joint.
Such precision among the four parts causes chords to ‘lock’ and ‘ring’ – expanding the sound. So-called ‘goose bump’ moments.
Peter recalls his first session with the Knights in 2014. He hadn’t a clue what to expect.
‘Within the first few bars they hit some great chords and that was it – they had me. I was,” he says, ‘hooked’.
Four years later Peter is the section leader of the leads. ‘I don’t readily read music, but it isn’t a problem as we have such great teach-tracks to listen to,’ he says.
Peter is a construction manager for a local building contractor, a long way from his first job making pies.
‘I always practice as I drive my van’, he says, ‘though I occasionally get some funny looks in the summer when the windows are down!’
His favourite Knights’ song: the Beach Boys ‘In My Room’, one of the first songs he ever sang with the Knights.
He says: ‘I really look forward to a Thursday night as I get to do something I really enjoy which also keeps me physically fit and challenges me mentally.’
Peter lives in Prestwood with his wife of 26 years. They have three children.
His other passion – beside family and Barbershop? Cricket. He’s played for the same team for even longer than he’s been married – 38 years, and still not out.
When Ady Terebas isn’t singing with the Knights, you’ll often find him belting out our repertoire in the cab of a 32-tonne tipper truck.
Ady’s a lorry driver who came along to a Knights’ Learn to Sing course six years ago, and has been a stalwart among the Basses ever since.
He was already singing for fun – mainly at karaoke nights.
It was the four-part close harmony that attracted Ady to Barbershop.
He says: ‘When we get it right – hit all the right notes – it sounds so good it makes the hairs on my neck stand up.’
Ady loves riding his motorbike, and has a ‘passion’ for Lambretta and Vespa scooters.
Another passion is dancing at Northern Soul and Mod nights – moves he sometimes brings to the risers at rehearsals. He likes a good laugh.
Pet hate: drivers who don’t indicate.
Ady lives in Old Amersham with his wife Jax. Between them they have six children and three grandchildren.
Matthew Cawthorne has returned to the Knights after the best part of a decade’s absence. He was working overseas and – as he explains – ‘fellow barbershoppers were hard to find in Baghdad’.
Matthew is a security consultant and a former Lt. Colonel in the Royal Marines. His job took him to what are known euphemistically as ‘hostile environments’ – deeply troubled places like Iraq – where he worked to keep others safe.
No surprise, then, that he enjoys the gentle fellowship of the Knights when he’s home.
Matthew began his singing in the choir at school. Unsurprisingly, the Marines – with whom he served for 24 years – didn’t offer many opportunities for close-harmony singing. ‘Music’, says Matthew, ‘was out of my life for far too long before Barbershop came along.’
Then, one Christmas, a friend heard him singing carols and took him along to listen to the Highwaymen – as the Knights used to be known.
He was invited to sing with them. ’Once we were ringing chords, that was it,’ he says. ‘I was hooked.’
Matthew can read music and play the piano, but singing a cappella is different. ‘Unlike other instruments, voice has to be ‘told’ what pitch to sing,’ he says. ‘That challenge is a big part of the fun’
Matthew, who sings the ‘notes no-one else wants’ (Baritone) is married with two daughters, now lives in Watford – and supports the Hornets.
What does he he enjoy most about the Knights? ‘Simple’, he says: ’Great singing, great companionship and a complete change from the worlds of work and family life.’
(Photo shows Matthew discussing security with the Governor of Iraq’s Diwaniyah Province)