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)