Best seat in the house for Harry at St Albans Abbey concert

MUSIC lover Harry Woodruff realised a long-held ambition when he sat in the front row next to the Mayor of St Albans, Cllr Aislinn Lee, at the traditional St Albans Symphony Orchestra New Year concert in the Abbey.

Harry, 85, has lived and worked on the Childwickbury Estate for 60 years and is a keen concert-goer as well as member of the Friends of St Albans Symphony Orchestra (SASO).

His VIP evening was organised after he revealed his secret wish to a neighbour, Eike Stohlmann, who plays oboe with the orchestra.

Eike said: “Harry is a wonderful neighbour and friend with a real love of classical music. He told me it would make his evening really special to be at the front with the Mayor. The orchestra asked Cllr Lee if he could be allocated the seat next to her and she very kindly agreed.”

A second reason that Harry looked forward to the 2012 New Year Concert was its Festival of Britain theme featuring English, Scottish and Welsh composers. He said it brought back happy memories of visiting the original, post-war Festival of Britain in London in the 1950s with his late wife, Audrey, including its landmark Skylon exhibit.

He added: “Sitting next to Cllr Lee during the concert was a wonderful start to the New Year. She was very down to earth and easy to talk to which made the concert thoroughly enjoyable.

“I particularly enjoyed the orchestra’s performance of The Lark Ascending by the orchestra’s leader, Jenny Wigram. Her lyrical interpretation evoked feelings and memories from many happy occasions I shared with my wife, Audrey.”

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n A retiring collection at SASO’s New Year Concert raised a record �1,394 for two charities, Hertfordshire Action on Disability and Water Aid. In addition, the orchestra’s brass section raised �350 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society before Christmas, playing carols in Harpenden and St Albans.

The orchestra’s chair, Kieran McGuirk said: “We warmly thank everyone who gave so generously to these three excellent causes.”