Bill joins Queen at garden party

Words and photos by Dave Barry

One of Scarborough’s best-known musicians attended a garden party at Buckingham House on 31 May.

“The invitation came out of the blue,” said Sunderland-born Bill Scott, who has lived in Scarborough since 1975.

“I’ve no idea how I came to be invited, but it’s very exciting and I feel very honoured to be invited”.

Bill, who was joined by his wife Anita, has contributed enormously to the town’s musical and theatrical life.

He trained as a teacher at Leeds University then North Riding College, which is now Scarborough Tec in Filey Road.

He went on to teach music at Graham School and Scarborough College. Bill worked as a musical director for the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse and Scarborough & District Light Opera Society.

When arthritis forced his early retirement from full-time teaching, he formed a choir and orchestra.

“It started as the Can’t Sing Choir”, recalls Bill with a laugh. “It grew into the Graham Choir and is now the 85-strong Scarborough Community Choir, rehearsing weekly at South Cliff Methodist Church and performing in care homes, local halls and even at the Spa Grand Hall once, backing Russell Watson”.

At the same time, Bill has brought together local musicians in his Sandside Orchestra for occasional concerts, often with the choir and guest pianist Frank James. They play works as ambitious as Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and the great piano concertos by Grieg, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky. The concerts have raised several thousand pounds for local charities.

The choir raised £1,000 at a concert on 3 March. It was shared equally between the FirstLight Trust and Scarborough & District Mencap. 

Over the years, Bill has composed many musicals which have been staged locally, including Barnaby Rudge, The Inn of Happiness and Rock on Henry, which was revived earlier this year.

A keen Gilbert & Sullivan enthusiast, Bill directed semi-staged performances of Trial by Jury and The Mikado with the choir, orchestra and Sandside Players and, in partnership with UK Foundation for Dance, Ruddigore at YMCA Theatre. The next collaboration will be Cole Porter’s Broadway musical Kiss Me, Kate (YMCA Theatre, 25-28 Oct).

“I’m especially delighted we’re getting to do Kiss Me, Kate, because it was my first professional engagement as musical director in Nottingham and I directed it again at Scarborough College. This third time, we’ve a great cast and team, with Tim Tubbs directing and Katrina Flynn choreographing, so it’s sure to be lot of fun, for us to produce and the audience to enjoy”.

Every summer, the Queen invites over 30,000 people from all walks of life to three garden parties at Buckingham Palace and one at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh as a way to recognise and reward public service.

Around 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 sandwiches and 20,000 slices of cakes are served.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, sometimes accompanied by other members of the royal family, speak to a broad range of people from all walks of life, all of whom have made a positive impact on their community.