Belfast Telegraph

James Molyneaux: Singing in choir was one of his joys of life

By Eddie McIlwaine

Never mind his long and chequered career in politics and as a wartime RAF serviceman, Lord Jim Molyneaux was also known for his choral singing.

He was devoted to St Catherine's Parish Church in his home parish of Crumlin, where he was baptised and sang in the choir for 80 incredible years. In fact, Lord Molyneaux ended up as the only man in the choir box on a Sunday.

Lena Martin, a choir member for 70 years, said: "Jim had a lovely tenor voice and I enjoyed listening to him when we were singing Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, his favourite hymn. He joined the choir when he was 10-years-old, was confirmed there and was a member of the select vestry."

Lord Molyneaux was much loved by the parishioners of St Catherine's and sister church, Gartree, who presented him with an ornate choir chair to show their appreciation. It will now remain as a memorial to him.

Even when he was at Westminster and, later, at the House of Lords, he always made a point of coming home at the weekend to worship in St Catherine's.

"Being home helped me to relax after the stress of the political scene," the politician once told me.

He was an incredible storyteller, as I discovered sitting in his home, sipping tea. He told me about meetings with political figures - like Enoch Powell and even the Queen, who always singled him out for a chat at state functions - so long as I agreed not to put them in print.

Quietly spoken, wise and modest, he didn't want to be seen name-dropping.

On a lighter note, he told me the story of his noisy baptism, when he cried en route to, during and after, to his parents' embarrassment. Only later did they discover he was being jabbed by an open safety pin.

He told me about his wartime experience in the RAF, as one of the first British servicemen to enter Belsen concentration camp. "I witnessed terrible things which have stayed with me, but which I never talk about," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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