Fenland Music Centre founder dies

PUBLISHED: 19:20 14 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:37 02 June 2010

obit Guy Ratcliffe

obit Guy Ratcliffe

ACCOMPLISHED musician, composer and founder of the Fenland Music Centre, Guy Ratcliffe, has died. Mr Ratcliffe, who was born in 1935, retired to the Isles of Scilly after spending many years in the Fens were he was well-known for his work encouraging a l

ACCOMPLISHED musician, composer and founder of the Fenland Music Centre, Guy Ratcliffe, has died.

Mr Ratcliffe, who was born in 1935, retired to the Isles of Scilly after spending many years in the Fens were he was well-known for his work encouraging a love of music in hundreds of youngsters.

Born in Cheshire, it was obvious early on that he had a real talent for music and he became an accomplished flautist. He attended music college in Manchester and his early teaching took place in Shropshire.

In 1961 he moved to March and then Chatteris to work as a music advisor to Cambridgeshire County Council. He developed a team of travelling teachers to provide free instrumental lessons in schools.

To offer opportunities to youngsters to play and perform in orchestras and bands, Mr Ratcliffe formed the Fenland Music Centre and motivated teachers to give up their Saturday mornings to help with the project.

Generations of musicians have benefited from the music centre which continues to this day. Many went on to forge a musical career and others still enjoy amateur music making.

Outside of work Mr Ratcliffe performed in many groups, often as principal flautist. In Cambridgeshire that included his own madrigal group called Canzona, the Wisbech Male Voice Choir, Opera Iceni and the Petros Ensemble.

Mr Ratcliffe also performed in and conducted church choirs at March and Chatteris, clocking up 66 years as a chorister. He was regularly to be found in the orchestra of many local musicals, performing for more than 50 productions.

As a composer and arranger he created many choral works, including an extended piece for the 1300th anniversary of the building of Ely Cathedral. Following retirement he continued writing music, particularly for hand bells and since its publication in 1997 his 'Hand Bell Tutor' has sold around the world.

He continued to perform into his late 60s, most recently giving a series of recitals for flute and voice with poet Lady Mary Wilson.

Mr Ratcliffe was married for almost 49 years to Mary and the couple had four sons, Simon (who died in infancy), Giles, Sam and Daniel. The have five grandchildren Emily and Matthew, Will, Ella and George.

His wife said: "Guy will be much missed by his family and friends both in the Isles of Scilly and Chatteris and his musical legacies will continue to benefit, inspire and support people of all ages for many years".

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