Richard Spong – obituary

We were devastated to hear of the sudden death of Richard Spong on 4th May this year. Charlotte and Richard have been supporters of Harwich International Shanty Festival since the very beginning and have contributed so much to our music with their beautiful arrangements and varied choice of material. But more than that, they had become firm friends with many people in the old town of Harwich and Richard will be sadly missed.

Aside from their maritime music Charlotte and Spong have performed together for many years with folk music, barn dances, puppetry, magic lantern shows and shades of swing/jazz. Popular throughout the UK and Europe they have toured and performed extensively and Richard was a highly respected musician.

We send our love to Charlotte.

Malcolm Ward 1942 – 2022: singer, musician and morris dancer

Obituary

Malcolm was born in 1942 in Northampton, where he lived until the age of 24. Having served an apprenticeship in the electrical supply industry, he made that his career, first with East Midlands, and later South Eastern Electricity Board. He was involved in the Scout movement for many years, and this is how he met his wife Christine, who he married in 1966. In 1967 his new job with Seeboard brought him to Oxted in Surrey, where he continued his involvement with scouting, at one point being Assistant District Commissioner, but in 1975 he decided to resign from this role because of the demands of raising a young family, and being on call for Seeboard, and moved to Hildenborough, where he was to spend the rest of his life.

At Seeboard he met the late Peter Collins, and the two families became firm friends. It was Peter who introduced him to the delights of Folk Music and Morris Dancing, and Malcolm joined Royal Borough Morris in Tunbridge Wells, where he became noted not only for his dancing, but also his singing.

 He subsequently moved to Ravensbourne Morris, first as a dancer, and later as a musician, after he learned the Maccann Duet Concertina. He frequently accompanied himself on that instrument when singing, and always said he regretted that he did not take it up earlier.

Malcolm was not a man to do anything by halves, and always threw himself wholeheartedly into anything he did. A regular attendee at Broadstairs Folk Festival he supported the Festival through a difficult patch and became Chairman of the Trust in 1995. He served in that role until 1997, but remained on the committee for a further year. He was always a stalwart supporter of Folk Week, every lunchtime he would be in Neptune’s Hall singing his head off with other fine singers. In the evening his favourite place was the Sailing Club for the session run by Tom and Barbara Brown. He was also a regular at The Travelling Folk, a group of musicians and singers who meet twice a month to sing in pub bars where his contribution was invaluable, with a strong but melodious voice, and a good repertoire.

Malcolm had a penchant for shanties and other sea songs where his repertoire was extensive and he supported the Harwich International Shanty Festival from the beginning.

When he was diagnosed with cancer, he was very upfront about it, and announced his intention of fighting it to the best of his ability. At some point he took the pragmatic decision to refuse further treatment, saying that he would prefer to make the best of what time he had and indeed this is what he did, his performances at HISF in 2022 proving to be almost his last.

He leaves a wife Christine, a son and daughter, and four grandsons, of all of whom he was extremely proud. His funeral celebrated his life as he wanted, with song, music and dance and left everyone with happy memories of a man who lived life to the full.

Roger Resch

Malcolm Ward, born 4 May 1942, died 6 December 2022

Alan Storey

We are deeply saddened to report the death on 21st February of the lovely Alan Storey, talented musician and multi instrumentalist with popular local group Golden Rivets. He and the Rivets have supported our Festival from the very beginning and his presence in the local community will be sorely missed. A true gentleman, Alan is a well known figure at many local events and it is hard to believe he will no longer be with us. He is pictured here at a previous Shanty Festival, playing on board SB Victor, surrounded by the other band members. RIP Alan

Jan Buijs

Many people will already have heard this news, but for those of you who have not, we are sorry to tell you that the lovely Jan Buijs from Scheepsfolk sadly died in December. Scheepsfolk were a great hit at our Festival in 2018 and Jan and Catharina came along as a duo in 2019. The group are a lively, talented, colourful and popular band throughout the Netherlands as well as the rest of the world and we all mourn his loss.