Festival Committee

Joanne Barrow – Vice-Chairman and Honorary Secretary

Joanne’s first connection with the Festival was in 1978 when she participated with Hazeldene School’s music group. Latterly she has been involved as a parent encouraging her two children who have entered varying classes over the last few years. Joanne’s background is in administration and she joined the Committee in 2004 as Entries Secretary. She now holds the positions of Vice-Chairman and Honorary Secretary; her duties include Publicity and Safeguarding matters. Joanne works part-time for the Stroke Association and is involved with other local charities.

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William Burton – Chief Steward

Bill is the Chief Steward and was Assistant Chief Steward from 2016-2018. He came to Bedford in 1977 after university where he was an active member of the drama society both as a performer and committee chairman. He has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Bill is not a musician but his daughters have performed in the festival numerous times over the years in both musical and dramatic roles. He has also been involved with the festival as a corporate sponsor having spent most of his working life as a director of an electronics manufacturing company in Bedford.

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Tim Grant-Jones – Official Accompanist

Tim has had links to the Bedfordshire Music Festival since 1979, as accompanist, teacher and parent. He joined the Committee around 10 years ago and his responsibility includes entry checking, organising piano hire and tuning, syllabus setting and development, programming arranging and proof reading, rota for official accompanists', and advising on musical matters. He accompanies many of the choir, vocal, string and wind classes throughout the Festival week. Tim is keen to make the festival an enjoyable and rewarding experience for all who take part.

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Jonathan Keep - Chairman

Jonathan has been involved with the Bedfordshire Festival for 22 years. Although not professionally qualified in the performing arts he has gained considerable experience in many disciplines through the involvement of his daughters from 1992 and membership of the Committee for some 12 years, having performed a variety of roles. As Chairman, Jonathan feels extremely privileged to lead such a talented and dedicated Committee without whom the Festival would cease to function. He would also welcome feedback on your experience of the Festival either as a performer or member of the audience.

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Sally Merryweather – Trophies Secretary

Sally was brought up in a musical family and played the violin and viola in school and County Orchestras in Suffolk. She came to Bedford in 1973 to the then College of Education to train as a primary school teacher. Her main subject was music and she went on to be part of the musical life of the schools in which she taught. Sally retired in 2017 and has been able to work with Jean Duivenvoorden learning the job of Trophies’ Secretary. Sally is really happy to be part of the Festival which gives opportunities to so many talented performers in the County and beyond.

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Alix Smith – Festival Secretary

Alix began working as part-time Festival Secretary in June 2017. She is a trumpeter and Music graduate. Upon graduating she worked in the admin team for the ABRSM and then moved on to school administration working as both an examinations officer and a school secretary. Alix also works part time as an Administrator for the Bedford Music Cooperative. Having moved from Hertfordshire to Bedford in January 2016, Alix is thrilled to be involved with such a wonderful local institution.

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Matt Smith – Corporate Friends and Fundraising

Matt joined the festival committee in September 2018 having moved to Bedford in 2016. He is a flutist and composer with his music published by United Music Publishing (UMP) and Trinity College London. His works are performed around the world as part of Recitals and Examinations and will be part of three CDs over the next couple of years. Matt studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama from 2003-07 and has worked across many areas of music education since then and he hopes to be able to bring this experience into his work for Bedfordshire Festival. He is looking to carry on with the established relationships formed by his predecessor to ensure that the festival continues with this generous and enabling support. The festival secretary will be making sure he does this!

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Robert Trunchion – Honorary Treasurer

Bob is the Treasurer – he therefore counts notes but cannot play them! He first visited the Festival in March 1974 when he attended the Prize Winners’ Concert (equivalent to today’s Gala Concert) to see his then girlfriend (now his wife!). After he returned to Bedford to raise a family, his daughters started performing in the Festival in various Music and Speech and Drama classes. As he was spending so much time at the Festival with the children, he thought he ought to join the Committee to help out and is still serving despite the fact that the children left home long ago. Bob is a tax partner in a national firm of accountants and lectures regularly to fellow accountants and solicitors. He has also appeared on national television and radio talking about that subject.

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Susan Trunchion – Friends’ Secretary

When asked to write this, Sue realised that she has now been associated with the Festival for fifty years! Sue vividly remembers her very first appearance on the stage at the old Civic Theatre, in a poetry class, and many other performances through the years in piano classes at the Corn Exchange, and can certainly empathise with performers’ nervousness! After a short break when she left school, Sue returned to the Festival, firstly as a piano teacher and then also as a parent. Sue’s two daughters took part in countless piano, violin and speech and drama classes, and both benefited hugely from these opportunities. Over the past few years, Sue has been pleased to be able to help in a small way with the running of the Festival, which continues to produce new delights and surprises each year, even for a ‘old hand’ like her, and she very much hopes that this continues!

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Henry Vann – Bedford Borough Council Representative

Henry was a participant in the Festival from a young age, particularly in singing, clarinet and piano classes. Having been involved in music making in Bedford all his life, through County Youth Orchestra and at school, he joined the Council in 2011 and has been the council appointee to the Committee since then. Henry is also portfolio holder for Education on Bedford Borough Council and works for the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) as well as continuing to perform locally as a clarinettist and singer.

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