MBE honour for ex Colne teacher Anne

Peter Rose (centre) and Anne Conlon (holding cheque) with members of St Augustine's music department and representatives from CAFOD. Photo by John Brandwood. (s)
Peter Rose (centre) and Anne Conlon (holding cheque) with members of St Augustine's music department and representatives from CAFOD. Photo by John Brandwood. (s)

A former teacher at a Colne secondary school was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honour’s List.

Anne Conlon, of Wilpshire, taught at Fishermore RC High School from 1979 up to her retirement in 2005 when she was assistant headteacher.

The award came as a total – but lovely – surprise

Anne Conlon

A graduate of Liverpool University, in 1980, Anne also served as head of English in her 26 years and was awarded the MBE alongside her friend and fellow teacher Peter Rose for their services to musical education and conservation in the UK and abroad.

Peter, a graduate of the Royal Manchester College of Music (now the RNCM), where he studied piano with Gordon Green, was appointed head of expressive arts at St Augustine’s RC High School in Billington in 1980, and his massed choirs of more than 200 children aged 11-16 soon became renowned for their wonderful performances.

Always a keen singer and instrumentalist, as well as a talented writer and poet, Anne was very happy to accept Peter’s request in 1980 to write the lyrics for their first musical collaboration The Conversion Job.

Together they went on to produce some outstanding music highlighting the impact of humanity on the environment.

During a professional partnership which has lasted for more than 30 years, the pair have produced award winning musicals which have been performed across the globe thanks to commissions from the World Wildlife Fund, as well as numerous productions for television.

In June 2014, Peter and Anne returned to St Augustine’s and performed with more than 250 former choir members and musicians as well as the present choir to celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary.

The performance included songs from the environmental musicals, Yanomamo, African Jigsaw, Ocean World, Arabica, Song of Creation and One Sun One World linked by specially written narrations.

The Just One World concert formed part of a fund-raising effort which raised more than £25,000 for the school’s CAFOD appeal.

Peter and Anne said: “We would like to thank all of those who have offered congratulations and expressed such great pleasure at our being awarded MBEs in the New Year’s Honours List.

“The award came as a total – but lovely – surprise. We do have to say that the award’s citation ‘for services to music education and conservation, in the UK and abroad’ surely has to embrace every one of those who has been involved in our environmental choral works, whether as performer, colleague, parent, helper – and not least, close friend and family.

“In our Fair Trade musical, Arabica, we sang: ‘...Are you sailing on an empty sea? Do you journey on your own?’

Well, Anne and I have certainly not journeyed on our own since The Conversion Job, our very first collaboration way back in 1980.

“For over 25 years, we enjoyed the company of generations of young performers from St Augustine’s RC High School in Billington, who through their amazing premiere performances in some of the country’s most prestigious halls introduced our music to a nationwide audience.

“They never failed to attract standing ovations, and through their phenomenal TV, radio and CD recordings, they inspired hundreds of thousands of children throughout the world to sing out proudly the message of conservation, reminding audiences on every continent of our responsibility to care for the earth and all its inhabitants.

“So we gladly accept this award on behalf of each and every one of them.”

School Business Manager at Fishermore, Edwina Yates, said: “I would like to express my delight for Anne on behalf of the school.

“This is a huge honour for her services to music and also to Catholic education, the basis of which she started from.”