Tribute: Gordon Cumming

  |  Published: Aug 1st 2011
gordon

Wendover Society

Gordon was the right man at the right time when Wendover was in urgent need to sort out the line of the Metropolitan Green Belt. Gordon's speed in providing accurate written documentation was critical to the outcome. His contribution to the Society was invaluable and Wendover owes him a debt of gratitude.                         
Bryan Smith

 

Gordon, as the Wendover Society's Secretary for many years, could always be relied upon to express the Society's views on paper to the relevant authorities in a brief and professional manner whilst also having the ability to cut through confusing jargon. As a good record keeper and with his background in IT, he created a database for the Society which was meticulously maintained and which enabled him to lay his hands on any piece of information when needed.
 Together with Bryan Smith, they formed a team which made the Society the talk of the civic movement in the South of England and a force to be reckoned with. A fact that AVDC would no doubt agree with, having at one time been the subject of a High Court injunction brought by the Society to prevent them granting planning permission for a thousand houses behind Castle Park. I fear it will be a long time before Wendover finds itself in the fortunate position of having its interests looked after by such a committed and formidable team. Both the President and the late Gordon Cumming's lasting legacy to Wendover must be the securing of the Metropolitan Green Belt boundary along the line of the stream within Castle Park.
Oliver Statham

 

It was as a fellow committee member of the Wendover Society that I first met Gordon and then discovered that Jackie, his wife, and I had been at school together in Bedford. Music was central to their lives as was travel, especially in Europe, so the loss of Jackie to breast cancer was a devastating blow.

Certainly to Gordon, living a life meant trying new things which, on retirement, as well as other projects, included signing up for a sailing course in South Africa to gain his yachtmasters certificate.  Latterly Gordon became an enthusiastic member of the Wingrave Singers and so enjoyed their weekends as visiting choir in many of England's cathedrals.
A lover of fine food and wine, Gordon was exceptionally knowledgably about the latter. Always keen to share a glass with his Pound Street neighbours and many friends, his New Years Day drinks, held outside in his garden whatever the weather, will be remembered by many. A good and remarkable friend.
Elizabeth Richards

 

Memorial Concerts

A Memorial Concert has been planned by some of Gordon’s friends and family, probably in October so watch this space!


Wendover Music plans to have a Memorial Concert for Gordon in the 2012 season.  Gordon was well known for his piano playing so it is likely to be a pianist performing.

 

Wendover Music

Before he retired, Gordon was a computer analyst with Fujitsu, seconded to the MOD at one of their sites in north London but his degree was in music, specialising in piano, which he studied at Edinburgh University.   It was there that he met Jackie, an accomplished harpist, who became his wife.

Gordon was an extremely talented, knowledgeable, accomplished musician and pianist so, when Andrew Meynell, then vicar of Wendover, established Wendover Music  in the early 1990’s, he  asked  Gordon to join as a founding member of the executive committee.   He immediately made tremendous contributions to the formulation of our programmes through his wide knowledge of artists and repertoire.   These contributions were recognised and much appreciated by his committee colleagues who hoped to benefit from them for some time to come.   However, from the beginning, Gordon made it quite clear that he would stay on the committee only long enough to see the whole thing firmly established in the musical calendar of the area.   Five years later,  when he judged that to be the case, he retired from the committee. 

His contributions to Wendover Music continued in other ways.   He attended all the concerts;  he continued to make helpful suggestions on possible programmes or artists for committee consideration.   The Secretary was also able to benefit from Gordon’s computing expertise  maintaining our Mailing List.   He also helped in putting together the concert programmes, using  “copy” provided by the Secretary. In 2002 he gave us the entertainment at our A.G.M.   We in Wendover Music are deeply indebted to him for all that he did for us.

Wendover Music was only one of Gordon’s many musical interests, some of which are known to us.   He was accompanist for many years at the Music Camp held at Piggott’s Wood, near High Wycombe each summer.   His keen support led to his involvement as concert artist, helping to raise funds for the The Lee Old Church Trust.   On one occasion, at a private soiree, I heard him play a piano concerto taking the part of the orchestra, whilst a friend on a second piano played  concerto soloist.   On another occasion their roles were reversed.   Each was a delightful experience.   Again, he was a prime mover in informal music appreciation meetings with  neighbours in Pound St, Wendover, where he lived.

He was a man of other talents as well.   He took up bookbinding, learning the skills at a course in Oxford, becoming very skilled in this art and converting his conservatory into a bindery.   His concern that the country was losing such skills led him to join The Society of Bookbinders, eventually becoming secretary to the education section.   Through a friend he also spent three summers as “bookbinder in residence” at an hotel in south west Norway, demonstrating the skills involved.   Needless to say, finding a grand piano in one of the public rooms, Gordon could not resist providing informal  entertainment on several evenings.

Gordon was passionate about his interests, first of which was music.   There are many of us who will miss his skill as a pianist, his enthusiasm for music and for his willing involvement in musical events.   He was a hard working member and, later, associate of Wendover Music.   He will be sadly missed by all of us who knew him.
Desmond Hallas

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