With the death of Ernie Kay, Malvern Concert Club has lost one of its most loyal supporters, one who has devoted time and provided financial support over many years. Ernie moved to Malvern in 1996, and he and his second wife Margaret quickly involved themselves in the local arts scene: at the Concert Club, of course, but also in the Elgar Society, Elgar’s Birthplace at Broadheath and Malvern Theatres.
He was elected to the Club’s committee in 1998, and his enthusiasm was such that he was appointed Assistant Secretary to Catherine Freeman some two years after that; it was the first time such an appointment had been made, but Ernie quickly demonstrated his value by taking a key role in the development of an effective publicity machine, and helping to forge strong links with like-minded organisations. The unexpected death of Margaret in 2003 came as a great blow to him, but he continued to serve as Assistant Secretary (subsequently re-designated Publicity and Marketing Officer) for several more years, and following his resignation in 2011, he was made a Vice President of the Club.
In recent years Ernie provided much of the funding through his own Kay Trust, in memory of his late wives, Kathy and Margaret, for no less than three commissions by the Club: Ian Venables’ Song of the Severn (2012-13), Alec Roth’s String Quartet No.4 in the following season, and most recently Dance the Beginning of the World by Sally Beamish; it is initiatives such as these which have helped to cement the reputation of Malvern Concert Club as one of the country’s foremost concert-promoting societies. The Kay Trust also financially supported many of the smaller music clubs in the area.
Ernie’s health had been deteriorating for some time, and upon the decision to sell his house in Graham Road in 2016, he moved into Perrins House. His physical condition was such that while with the aid of friends and helpers he continued to attend Club concerts on a regular basis, these became more spasmodic, though he continued to attend when he could. Latterly, now in a wheelchair, he was a familiar figure in the front row of the hall, seemingly determined to defy the cancer from which he was suffering, and his presence at the première of the Beamish commission was particularly welcome.
The Concert Club owes Ernie Kay an enormous amount and he will be greatly missed.
Ernie’s funeral will be held on Tuesday 5 February. Following a private cremation, there will be a Thanksgiving Service at 2.30pm at Lansdowne Crescent Methodist Church, Lansdowne Crescent, Malvern WR14 2AW, and a Reception afterwards in the Circle Bar, Malvern Theatres from about 3.30 to 5.30pm. Family flowers only, please; donations if desired for Lansdowne Crescent Methodist Church, c/o Holland Funeral Directors, 71 Barnard’s Green Rd, Malvern WR14 3LS, 01684 575343.
With the blessing of our President, Roderick Williams OBE, Malvern Concert Club will be dedicating its concert on Sunday 17 February at 3pm, a Schubert recital by Roderick himself and Iain Burnside, to Ernie’s memory.