Shawville United honours Cheryl Campbell

Cheryl Campbell with the commemorative hymn board acknowledging her 50 years as director of the Shawville United Church choir.

Clifford Welsh

 SHAWVILLE – The acknowledgement of a special achievement took place December 10 at the Shawville United Church when, as part of morning worship, Cheryl Campbell’s 80th birthday and her 50 years as choir director were recognized.

Spaced throughout the service were four special choir arrangements conducted by Campbell with Vincent Marr from Ottawa on piano and four short speeches by friends, former church members, a former minister and former choir members.

Joan Conrod, who has been friends with Campbell for 56 years, described how when Cheryl and her late husband George arrived in Shawville, people signed on for one-year contracts often only stayed for a couple of years. She described how George, who “could play any instrument thrust into his hands”, became music teacher and band director at Pontiac High School and Cheryl began her experience with the music program at Shawville United. Conrod also reminisced about how in the 1980s, the Sunday School program had over 120 children registered, and the pews were packed at every special service due to Campbell’s efforts. Campbell taught piano and was a sought-after soloist for weddings and funerals throughout the Pontiac.

Glenda Baker spoke on behalf of former Shawville United minister Rev. Paula Mullin who couldn’t attend. Mullin reminisced about how in her first time in the pulpit as the interim minister in the summer of 2000, she was “awestruck” as the choir began to sing. Campbell’s outreach into the community through her participation in the Pontiac Players musicals was also noted.

Eleanor Hodgins expressed appreciation for Campbell’s work and told a brief humorous anecdote about a hot summer day with all the windows open when one of the soloists was accompanied by a neighbour’s dog.

Beth Armitage, who was unable to attend but sent a message to read, said “I may be the only choir member who remembers that very first choir practice! … A new mezzo soprano voice and another male choir member were a definite addition to the group!” She went on to say, “Little did we know what a significant part of the congregation Cheryl and George would come to be…She has always been encouraging and welcoming to all who participate in the choir and never tired of going over parts to help everyone get it just right!”

Rev. Schalk W Naude presented Campbell with a commemorative hymn board to be placed on the wall at the front of the church.

Campbell spoke of how her life has been enriched by those she has worked with in the choir ministry. Thanking her family for their support throughout the years, she turned to direct the choir in their final number saying, “I’ll try to do this if I can see through the tears!”