A Tribute To Arthur Williams
........... 5th November 2013 ............
It doesn’t seem a mere nine years ago that Honiton Band succeeded in securing Arthur Williams as its Musical Director. Throughout those years we all felt priveleged to know him, to work closely with him and to count him as a friend.
Arthur was very proud of ‘his’ band. Once, whilst listening to a visiting Canadian Salvation Army band at Exeter Temple, Arthur marvelled at their astounding technical ability, where each succeeding piece seemed more challenging than the previous one. At the end of the concert Arthur said that as much as he could appreciate the abilities on display, he still felt that 'his' band could hold its own in terms of entertainment and he concentrated on achieving that throughout his time as Musical Director. This entailed much ‘behind the scenes’ work and dedication on his part, of which only his wife Hazel was aware.
It was always a pleasure working with Arthur as he was one of life’s true gentlemen. He genuinely listened to people and valued their input, never having an unkind word to say about anyone and he was always interested in the welfare of others. His pastoral care of the band was second to none and his sense of duty was so strong that he frequently put the needs of the band above is own welfare, especially during his illnesses. But he also had a great sense of humour, attested to by his telling of a joke at the end of every practice - for nine years.
Each of us have our own abiding memories of Arthur. I will miss his smile – the twinkle in his eye when his jokes received a laugh – his "think about it" when they didn’t – his raised eyebrow when you said something he wasn’t expecting – the sight of his Panama hat and briefcase approaching at an engagement, when you knew you were in safe hands again – his excitement at finding a piece of music he liked – his enthusiasm – and so much more. Arthur had made the decision to retire as MD at the end of the 2014 summer season. He felt that 10 years of service was an appropriate point at which to retire and wanted to give the band time for a smooth transition. We did give him the ‘opportunity’ for a re-think, but you could always tell when Arthur was resolute. He said it would be different if he’d just been playing – and we had planned to ask him to do just that, so that we didn’t lose him entirely. Sadly, we never got that chance, but he will certainly never be forgotten, by those of us who knew him.