Obituary - Richard Barnes 1947-2012

10th August 2012 at 01:00

Richard Barnes dedicated his life to bringing the joy of music to children and his community. A talented singer, pianist and organ player, he captivated pupils with his passion and enthusiasm for his subject, a contribution rewarded with an MBE five years ago.

Mr Barnes grew up in Croydon, south London, and was educated at the independent Whitgift School. He developed an interest in choral music and singing, regularly attending courses run by the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM). He came from a musical family: his father had been a chorister in Folkestone, Kent, and his great-grandfather had sung in a quartet.

Mr Barnes went on to study music at Cardiff University, graduating in 1968 with a first-class degree. He had worked with young people in his role of head chorister at the RSCM and enjoyed it so much that he chose to become a teacher.

In 1971, he became assistant director of music at Wycliffe College in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire. In 1974, he joined Lady Manners School in Bakewell, Derbyshire; he remained there until he retired in 2011, serving as director of music, a head of year and then head of the upper school.

He met his wife Ruth, an RE teacher, when they lived in the same shared house. The couple married in 1978; their daughter Helen was born in 1980 and their son David in 1982. Both children were encouraged to learn musical instruments and sing in choirs.

Mr Barnes was supportive and generous with his time, accompanying children when they took music exams. Aside from teaching, he did much to promote music in Bakewell, where he lived as well as worked. He founded the Bakewell Choral Society and was its first conductor, serving in the role from 1978 until 1999 and then from 2003 until 2012. He was also the choir master of a local church.

In 1996, he was made an associate of the RSCM in recognition of his work directing residential courses for young choristers. In 2007, he was appointed MBE for services to education and music; he told the Queen how much he enjoyed teaching children to sing.

A keen walker, Mr Barnes would embark on extensive treks around the Peak District. In July 2009, he raised money for the Bakewell Choral Society with a 100-mile walk around the area.

He conducted his last Bakewell Choral Society concert in December 2011. Shortly afterwards, he fell ill. In February this year, only a few weeks after his first grandchild was born, he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.

Throughout his treatment, Mr Barnes planned the future of the choir he started. A concert he organised for November will now be a tribute to his work and talents. Mr Barnes died on 26 July at the age of 65.

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