Trevor Cowlett was the founder and musical director of Kennington and District United Church Choir. He formed the seventy strong choir at the end of 1973 and it embarked on forty seven years of singing for local, national and international charities raising over £500,000: an amazing achievement for a local amateur choir.
Trevor was born in Twickenham, in 1932, where he met his future wife Brenda Williams who died in 1995. His family moved to Bourne End during the war and the talented teenager was much in demand as an organist especially for weddings. From 1950 to 1952 Trevor did National Service at RAF Wattisham, in charge of tele-communications. Trevor was awarded an organ scholarship at Hertford College (Oxford), where he founded a choir bringing in young women from the ladies’ colleges.
After graduation he married Brenda and they bought a house in Kennington where he lived until his death on April 29. Between 1957 and 1962, Trevor was Head of Music at Larkmead School in Abingdon. He then set up as a private music tutor, teaching more than 100 students the piano, organ and other keyboard instruments each fortnight in his Kennington home for almost 60 years. Brenda and Trevor also ran the Kennington nursery school for 40 years, from their house.
In the early 1960s, Methodists in Kennington had begun meeting in various homes around the village, but Trevor had the ambition to build a church. “We had no money, and we had no land. But the determination was there.” The church opened on Saturday, October 29th 1967 free from debt.
When Trevor was featured in the Oxford Castaways series for this newspaper, he was frank about the time he suffered from agoraphobia. He also described how he overcame it.
In the autumn of 2011, Trevor had kidney failure and had been on dialysis ever since. In the same year he was awarded the MBE for services to music. These include 50 years of singing Christmas carols calling at every home in Kennington and accompanying villagers on his accordion to raise £50,000 for special needs children at Penhurst School, Chipping Norton.
Trevor was one of the founder members of Kennington Overseas Aid (KOA) and every year for half a century organised a fundraising concert for that year’s project. In acknowledgement of that KOA’s chairperson, Sylvia Vetta, wrote a history of the choir Trevor founded. He asked for it to be titled I Love You All because that is what he said to the choir at the end of every performance.
The funeral service will take place in Kennington Methodist Church – a significant place in Trevor’s life. Because of restrictions only 30 people can attend but the family would love his friends in the village, the choir and from all the charities he generously supported to line Upper Road to say farewell. The family and the choir hope to organise a memorial event later in the year.
Trevor leaves three children, David, Peter and Mary and three grandchildren, Jonathan, Christina and Victoria.
Alan Yeates, Head of Modern Foreign Languages and German More...