The orchestra’s existence is owed entirely to the late Dr Patrick Rawlence, Pulham Market’s former GP and by chance a keen amateur flautist, who, in the early 1980’s contrived to assemble a small handful of local instrumentalists in the village’s former ‘brew house’.
It’s said by those who knew him that the doctor simply wished to play his flute again, and it would seem, preferably in company with others.
Perhaps in the hope that his small group might grow, or possibly not wishing to take on the role himself, at some point he clearly saw the need for a competent musician to take charge. Having seen her conduct an operatic performance in Wymondham, he secured the services of Margery Baker.
On 29th March 1983, the group first gathered under Margery’s baton as the Pulham Village Orchestra, a name which would eventually see it through the ensuing 30 years, during which it quite possibly occupied a unique place in British music-making as the only truly ‘village’ orchestra, both by name and origin.
Somewhat ironically, however, the orchestra was destined to outlive - or more accurately, to outgrow that name, although longer-standing members continue to refer to the “PVO”, as does Margery herself of course!
As outlined on the opening page, unstinting efforts on Margery’s part, not to mention those over the years who assisted her to plan, arrange and publicise ‘open events’ (events originally intended to provide a wider section of the local musical community with the experience of playing in an orchestra), have seen the number of regular members swell far beyond the founder’s likely expectations. Moreover, to a level sufficiently at odds with most people’s perception of a village orchestra, that its original name could have been considered misleading.
Hence, in 2006 it was decided, undoubtedly with considerable reluctance in some quarters, that the word ‘village’ should be consigned to history; the orchestra’s current identity being subsequently registered with the Charities Commission on 3rd January 2007.
Whether or not it was his intention cannot be determined of course, but as both a musician and doctor, it’s more than possible that the founder would have appreciated the psychological benefit to the members of his small group, of gathering with others to play, to chat, have a cup of tea and quite likely some occasional fun in the process.
The doctor’s possible ‘prescription’, intended or otherwise, has served to underpin our ethos for the last 39 years, although now no longer limited to chamber music, nor confined to the tiny brew house, our considerably greater forces and spacious venue allow us to offer members considerably more. Dare we say…….tea and symphony?
The orchestra is both a registered charity and a full member of ‘Making Music UK’, formerly known as The National Federation of Music Societies.
The Charities Commission, to which we are required to submit annual returns, has a Statutory duty to ensure that our finances are managed in accordance with relevant legislation and that the orchestra’s Trustees ensure that our funds and other resources are managed in accordance with our Constitution, our governing document.
Membership of ‘Making Music UK’ affords us access to a wealth of advice and guidance on virtually all aspects of the organisation and operation of the orchestra, its affairs and activities, not least in terms of best practice and compliance with relevant legislation.
The orchestra’s day-to-day operations and affairs are managed by a committee, currently consisting of two charity Trustees and four other Officials, elected annually from and by the orchestra’s membership.
The managing Committee is currently comprised as follows:
Chair: Liz Grant (Violin)
General Secretary: (Trustee) Garry Whitehead (Violin)
Treasurer: (Trustee) Andrew Baker (Trumpet)
Director of Music: Margery Baker
Supporting Official: John Gage (Double Bass)
Supporting Official: Sarah Price (Oboe)
Three further Trustees remain independent of the Committee:
Diane Bagshaw (Violin)
Jean Bishop (Viola)
Martin Wyatt (Violin / Leader)
Lord McGregor of Pulham Market OBE. PC. FKC