Featured singer


Our latest featured singer is David Dewhirst, a new member of the club who sings lead.


How did you get into barbershop?
My wife found a flyer on her car windscreen at the supermarket inviting interested “would be” singers to come along to a session. I went along in September 2015 and was immediately attracted by the prospect.

Have you sung with any other choirs or choruses?
Not for forty years, when I sang in amateur dramatic society musicals.

What do you like most about singing barbershop?
A group of men demonstrating their ability to sing in harmony, in a friendly and cooperative way, and thus creating beautiful sounds.

Any favourite barbershop songs?
I haven’t been in the choir long enough to have practised more than 8 or 10 songs, of which 3 were Christmas carols so my choice is limited. However, everything we have sung has pleased me.

What other music do you enjoy?
Most “classical” music, folk rock, country, Nanci Griffith especially. I also play the piano.

Tell us about your family.
Married with grown 3 up children, 6 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

Favourite books, film, TV?
Fantasy fiction, crime thrillers, Game of Thrones, Silent Witness, The Lord of the Rings, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo … oh, too many to list.

Any other significant pastimes?
Cryptic crosswords, Sudoku, gardening, railway travel and the history of rail transport, The U3A, The National Trust.

Tell us about your education and work, past and present.
Graduate of Bristol University and the Open University, Headteacher of Leeds Special Schools for 32 years, manager of Leeds Autism Support Services for the final 5 years of my working life. I am a governor at a Leeds Primary School and sit on Leeds’ Pupil Appeals panels when parents are unhappy about the school their child has been offered.


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Our next featured singer is Paul Thuilliez who sings bass.

How did you get into barbershop? 

I joined White Rose in November 2013. Wish I'd done it earlier. Do you sing with any other choirs or choruses? Yes, I used to sing with 'Probus Male Voice Choir' and, together with my wife Corine, also used to sing in the 'Fairfax Singers'. I now sing with Daytones and am chairman of that chorus. When I was in my twenties I sang with a Gilbert and Sullivan operatic society.

What do you like most about singing barbershop?
I enjoy the social contact and the harmony. For me, singing is not just enjoyment and entertainment, but also a necessary therapy to help counter voice problems associated with parkinsons, with which I was diagnosed in 2007.

Any favourite barbershop songs? 
You don't know me, All Those Beautiful Girls, California here I come, No Other Love, The night has 1000 eyes, most fast paced light-hearted numbers with a good bass part. I especially like the quartets of 'Metropolis' and 'Chordiac Arrest' and really admire 'Zero8'.

What other music do you enjoy? 
Lots of classical music, brass bands, Welsh male voice choir, comedy numbers, Dire Straits, the Swedish jazz piano music of Jan Johannson, but my favourite piece of music is Dvorak's Slavonic Dance number 2 op72.

Tell us about your family.
My two children were born with my first wife Linda. Both graduated. Nicholas is 44 and went to Sandhurst. He is now married with twins aged three (boy and girl) and an adopted daughter aged 12. My daughter Emily is 42. She has a son aged seven and a daughter aged five. Corine is my third wife and we have been very happily married for 24 years. We have no children.

Favourite books, film, TV? 
Unfortunately parkinsons takes away much of the ability to enjoy serious reading. I love old western movies and my favourite film is a WW2 spoof called Kelly's Heroes. Its anti-establishment background theme and "can do" storyline appeal to me. I enjoy Question Time, Graham Norton, QI, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You.

Any other significant pastimes? 
Travel and adventure. I've been to 60 countries and lived in six. From unguided Landrover safari tours around Africa, to a year spent driving around the USA with a camper van and motorbike. Snow skiing, yachting, sailing, white-water rafting, scuba diving, hang-gliding and piloting light aircraft (including some mild stunt flying) have all featured. Now genealogy research takes up a lot of my time; I've traced my ancestors back to the mid 1600s. I also used to recondition old motorbikes and still own a BMW R1150RT, a1954 BSA C11G, a 1957 LD150D Lambretta scooter and a 1983 GL650D Honda Silver Wing. All are roadworthy and are still ridden in good weather. I now enjoy the gentle pastimes of crown green bowls and assembling/programming computers.

Tell us about your work, past and present.
After a basic secondary school education and an engineering apprenticeship in the aircraft industry, I became a sales engineer for high performance engines for use in marine propulsion, army heavy vehicles, locomotive propulsion and specialised generators and pumps. I became self-employed in 1990 and worked worldwide as a marketing/application engineering consultant, whilst also managing two London private properties. I retired at 55 (I am now 70).

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Our next featured singer is Man Chiu Leung who joined us last year and who sings Lead. Man Chiu has just won our Most Improved Singer Award. When not singing barbershop "Chiu" is director and secretary of the Leeds Chinese Community Association. This interview comes in part from a feature on Chiu published in the Yorkshire Evening Post back in 2012.

Tell us about your family.

I live in Moortown and am married to Lai Hong, a former nurse. We have two children Caroline, who works for Bradford City Council, and Timothy, who is an accountant in London.

What are you most proud of?

I was delighted to appear with Jamie Oliver in his programme Jamie's Great Britain. I love cooking and he came to the community centre in North Street where we serving lunch to 40 people. My son and daughter both watched it and were very proud.

Can you tell us more about your background?

I was born in Hong Kong and came to England when I was 23. Up to the age of 14 I grew up in a flat in Hong Kong which my grandad owned and sub-let to other families. There were three bedrooms and four families there, 21 people in total. There was even a mother and daughter living under the stairs. There was no bathroom in those days, just a bucket in the kitchen.

I came to England to study textiles at Leicester Polytechnic and then in 1969 I got a job in the textile industry in Leeds where I have lived ever since.

Tell us about your cooking.

I cook for senior citizens twice a week. I can cook English as well as Chinese food. I enjoy making trifles and Victoria Sponges but I am a poor pastry chef! I have cooked snacks for my friends in the White Rose Chorus.

What about the Chinese community in Leeds?

 There are around 5000 Chinese people in Leeds which is far less than in Manchester where there are 20 000. We are quite a small community and very scattered. It would be nice if there were a chinatown in the city centre. A lot of Chinese businesses were knocked down to make way for the Eastgate development.

The New Year is very important to Chinese people and we mark it with a celebration in Leeds Town hall. the White Rose Chorus sang for us last year.

Tell us how you relax.

I go to the gym three or four times a week. I don't run so much now, but I swim, which is better for older people. My philosophy in life is not to worry too much. You have to roll with the punches and look on the brighter side of life.

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Our next featured singer is Harry Ambler, a very long-standing member of the club who now sings tenor after many years as a baritone. He is vice chair of the club and our librarian.


How did you get into barbershop?
After singing as a choirboy at my local parish church, and a spell at the RSCM (Royal School of Church Music) I sang in a Baptist chapel choir...even taking the baton from time to time. From there I sang bass in a Gospel Quartet with a programme of old tyme gospel hymns.  Getting married and raising a family, plus building a career  in bakery management, I left music for some years until a chance meeting with the wife of one of my old gospel quartet colleagues saw me conned into joining 'Chordbusters Inc'....the old Bradford chorus.

Have you sung with any other choirs or choruses?
Yes... In later life with a couple of mixed voice choirs in Bradford and Ilkley. Did actually appear on  'Songs of Praise' (back left hand corner, in complete shadow! That is a story in itself.....

What do you like most about singing barbershop?
 The friendliness of fellow singers, no ' class system' just being in a team singing good close harmony, obviously based on my early training as a chorister.

Any favourite barbershop songs?
Not really...I'm a sucker for romantic ballads though. Not too keen on some 'pushing  the boundaries' arrangements, but there again I am an old dinosaur!

What other music do you enjoy?
Big classical requiems, particularly Verdi's.  Fauré on a smaller scale, but filled with beautiful harmonies and melodies. In my younger days, Black Sabbath, The Grateful Dead, Queen...and my favourite, ELO. Did have a mobile disco along with my son....long hair, velvet jacket, ingot on a chain....oh dear...

Tell us about your family.
Losing my wife just over a year ago was a savage blow, but my four brilliant children, now all married with their own families have kept me going. I also class BABS and the chorus as family, as they have been a great support.

Favourite books, film, TV?
Must confess- I enjoy the soaps... But mainly watch documentary and factual programmes. Reading, a wide range, but the one book that grabbed me I read as a choirboy during the interminable sermons. The Log of the Flying Fish by Harry Ballantyne....still got it on my iPad! A Jules Verne style adventure.

Any other significant pastimes?
I do quite a bit of work for BABS as central communications manager and National PRO. Video, recording, and various 'techie' things.

Tell us about your education and work, past and present.
The school I attended was commercially oriented...and the main qualification we worked for was The London Chamber of Commerce...where I gained distinctions in commercial arithmetic, maths, English grammar and literature. The only GCE I sat was physics, which I also passed well. My first job was as a butcher, which I hated, and the progressed to an indentured apprenticeship in the baking industry, gaining City and Guilds finals at first class level. Then on to management for a good few years until I became sensitive to flour dust. I had to find a change of course then and ended up using my musical knowledge with a church organ builder, designing the instruments and facades..after studying tonal architecture in some depth. When my wife was diagnosed, I took early retirement to care for her....and here I am!

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Our next featured singer is your Chairman, assistant MD and baritone section leader, Steve Smith.




How did you get into barbershop?


I was invited to come along to the chorus about 13 years ago by Bryan Bull who now sings with Spirit of Harmony. I was made very welcome and took a place on the risers just in fron of Harry from whom I picked up quite a few songs (some with the correct notes!) 




Do you sing in any other choirs or barbershop choruses?


Yes, I've been singing with Spirit of Harmony for a year or so. Now I am retired I have more time for singing. I have done a bit of traditional choir singing over the years.


What do you like most about singing barbershop?

I enjoy the camaraderie, learning new songs and performing at sing-outs and festivals. Mostly, though, it's the pleasure of hearing good ringing chords.


Any favourite barbershop songs?

Not particularly, though I could pick out the up-tempo Rosetime as a good song for baritones and Let the Rest of the World Go By. I enjoy our arrangement of Something. I also love the fourth chord of There Goes My Heart!


Any particularly fond barbershop memories or highlights?
I have good memories of my first convention in Brighton when my 10 year-old son also sang with us. I also had a great time singing in the quartet semi-finals at Llandudno a few years ago. We won the trophy for the best new quartet. I sang with Joe Dod, Dean Whitehouse and Tim Briggs. Scary stuff!



What other music do you enjoy?

My favourite music is progressive rock. I grew up enjoying Yes and Genesis and now really enjoy the music of Neal Morse and Transatlantic. I also like classical symphonies (e.g. Rachmaninov), classic rock and some jazz.


Tell us about your family.

I am married to Elspeth and have a son, Joel, who is currently at university in Manchester studying physics. My mum lives in Lowestoft.


Favourite film, books and TV?

I enjoy quite a bit of TV: Star Trek; The Next Generation, West Wing, The Wire, Borgen, The Killing, Dexter and Sherlock, among many other series. I am not a voracious reader. My favourite novels are Atonement by Ian McEwan and The Plague by Albert Camus. My favourite non-fiction book would be The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I recently thoroughly enjoyed the movie Gravity. I also enjoy watching French films, favourite director being François Truffaut.


Any other significant pastimes?

I play drums in a local pub band called Fischer's Ghost. I maintain three websites (this one, the Spirit of harmony site and my business site frenchteacher.net). I also write a regular blog for language teachers. We travel a fair bit to France where we are lucky to have a second home. I do a bit of gardening too.


Tell us about your education and your work, past or present.

I went to Gillingham Grammar School in kent, then Reading University where I studies French and Linguistics. I did my PGCE then taught in three schools duing my career as a French teacher. I ended up as Head of Modern Languages at Ripon Grammar School until I retired in 2012. I now write worksheets and other resources for French teachers which I publish on a subscription website.


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Thank you to Mr Geoff Mott, club secretary, baritone and arguably the busiest member of the chorus. He has kindly allowed himself to be interviewed for the club site:


How did you get into barbershop?

Shortly after returning to Yorkshire from Lincolnshire, where we went to care for the elderly in-laws, Dee saw a Learn to Sing advert in the local paper, and suggested I try it.  Prior to that, my singing had been limited to the occasional church service, since schooldays.  


Do you sing in any other choirs or barbershop choruses?

No, though I might if I were not so busy.


What do you like most about singing barbershop?

It’s the harmonies.


Any favourite barbershop songs?

If I Give my Heart to You, Give Me a Barbershop Song, some polecats, though a few are decidedly unfavourites.  


Any particularly fond barbershop memories or highlights?

No, I have not been coming long enough to amass any. I like attending concerts, either as participant or audience.


What other music do you enjoy?

Orchestral, mainly Mozart.  I usually start one of his when I need to concentrate, on the computer.


Tell us about your family.

Not much to tell – no kids, and now, no pets.  Dee qualified as a children's nurse at Great Ormond Street before becoming disabled with a complaint like muscular dystrophy.


Favourite film, books and TV?

Pressed for an answer, I’d say the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice.  Books, some of Dickens, like Dombey and Son.  On TV I like quizzes and some recent programmes featuring Cold War aircraft.


Any other significant pastimes?

My main hobby is studying with the Open University, who have awarded me a BSc Hons and, shortly, a BA Hons.  These cover a bit of technology, art, 19th century literature, design, (with the odd diploma thrown in), the most recent being a third-level Shakespeare course.  Other than that, I am the handyman for a local charity for the elderly, where I fix things within their homes.  They too seek to educate me, with a wheelchair handling certificate, and a community sighted guide for blind persons' course. 


Tell us about your education and your work, past or present.

Secondary school was Prince Henry’s Grammar School, Otley, which I left without distinction.  I went into engineering with high ideals, aiming for a decent qualification, which came to nought.  I am a competent machinist of metals and plastics, with a liking for tinkering with stuff.  I have enjoyed nearly every job I’ve had, the best being employed as a civilian at RAF Coningsby, including sitting in the Lancaster, and driving into Tornado hangars.  Ten years were spent in the stores of a Ford tractor main dealership, where I learned a lot.