Opera singer’s concert after war medals found in river

A RENOWNED opera singer is preparing for his latest concert, taking place this Sunday: in a parish church in Swallowfield.

Oliver Dunn is returning to the village to sing his thanks after being reunited with his great uncle’s war medals.

They were found in a river by two local fishermen during the Swallowfield Parish annual community clean-up last year.

The medals had been awarded to Petty Officer Oliver Reed, from London, for his action during the Battle of Jutland during the First World War and posthumously to his son, Alfred, an Able Seaman who lost his life when his ship, HMS Cornwall, was sunk in 1942.

An appeal last year managed to reunite Pettty Officer Reed’s family with his medals and they have since been cleaned up and restored. They will be on display at Sunday evening’s ticket-only concert.

To show his gratitude for the find, Mr Dunn is giving the celebratory concert, performing along with pianist Malcolm Forbes-Peckham, in a programme of music including a number of songs from the past celebrating Britain’s naval heritage.  

In addition, Mr Forbes-Peckham will perform some solo piano pieces, and the concert will conclude with a selection of lighter numbers from opera and operetta.

Any proceeds from the concert will be shared between the church and Enham Trust, a disability charity based near Andover.

Mr Dunn said it would be an understatement to say that he his family were stunned by the news of the find.  He intends the concert to be a relaxed, informal and entertaining affair where we will have the opportunity to hear two fine musicians, as well as seeing the restored medals in all their glory.

Peter Sampson, Chairman of Swallowfield Parish Council, said “The concert not only represents a unique opportunity for such prestigious musicians to perform for our community, but also offers enormous gratitude to both the organisers and participants of our annual litter pick.  Mostly we collect empty lager cans; this year was something special.”

The concert takes place from 7.30pm on Sunday, January 15, at All Saints Church in Swallowfield. Tickets must be bought in advance and are available in Swallowfield Parish Stores.