Lydia Holmes, Musical Director of Cornwall Branch died on 12th September 2002

Many teachers have the gift of music themselves, many can teach, but few have the gift of inspiring their pupils as did Lydia Holmes who died last week. She could identify ability in the potentially talented and motivate them to practise and perform: she was supportive of those less able and endlessly encouraging.

Her illness was painful, and at times frightening, but mercifully brief. In and out of hospital she continued to teach when she could, and notably conducted a recorder group from her wheelchair on a windy day at Holy Cross outside Truro Cathedral only a week before her death.

Her own abilities – athletics, music and singing, dressmaking – surfaced early in her life and were pursued energetically. It was in character that similar energy was deployed in one of her most rewarding teaching roles at the Redbridge School for Handicapped Children in London. Overcoming their presumed handicaps was a joy to her, and this theme illumined her own life at the end.

Moving from London to Cornwall in 1982 Lydia played in bands and gave music lessons. Pupils of all ages, learning piano, electronic keyboard, trombone, clarinet, alto saxophone, flute and recorder would travel from far and wide, and navigate the long stony drive from Chacewater to her isolated farmhouse. These pupils filled the prize lists of numerous music festivals both as individuals as groups and as consorts. Their valued mentor is now dead.

In recent years Lydia was Musical Director of the Cornwall branch of the Society of Recorder Players. Her last appearance in this role was moving and memorable. Energetic as always, but unable to stand or walk, she crawled on all fours to sort and distribute music sheets. Her ear was sharp as ever, but her reprooofs were always kind and light hearted.

Her pupils and pets were her children and her favorite charity was the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth.

She shared her musical interests with Brian her husband. They met at a music course, and the courtship was pursued while she struggled with a difficult section of “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic”. She loved this piece, as Brian loved her and that memory.

Our heart goes out to him, her many pupils and their parents, who mourn her early death.

Donald Craig, 15th September 2002

Last updated 26 July 2013