Famous conductor marks 90th with gyrocopter landing in West Chiltington

DM1520238a.jpg BBC3 Radio host Kenneth Alwyn celebrates his 90th birthday at West Chiltington Golf Course. Landing in a Gyrocopter piloted by Tony Fowler. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150730-082649008

DM1520238a.jpg BBC3 Radio host Kenneth Alwyn celebrates his 90th birthday at West Chiltington Golf Course. Landing in a Gyrocopter piloted by Tony Fowler. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150730-082649008

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Celebrated music conductor and avid golfer Kenneth Alwyn arrived at West Chiltington Gold Club in a gyrocopter to mark his 90th birthday.

On Wednesday (July 29) the qualified pilot who has been a member of the golf club in Broadford Bridge Road for more than 25 years, was welcomed by 80 members on his landmark day.

DM1520278a.jpg BBC3 Radio host Kenneth Alwyn celebrates his 90th birthday at West Chiltington Golf Course. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150730-082446008

DM1520278a.jpg BBC3 Radio host Kenneth Alwyn celebrates his 90th birthday at West Chiltington Golf Course. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150730-082446008

Mr Alwyn said: “It was a sentimental journey. I’ve never flown a gyrocopter before. I waved to everyone over the field.”

It was the ideal way for the former Royal Ballet conductor to celebrate his birthday as the club was launched by famous golfer Max Faulkner, who Mr Alwyn later discovered was also the man that received him into the RAF in 1943.

“He was a very famous golfer. I didn’t know all this until I won a medal on his 80th birthday at the club back in 1996,” he said.

On the day, a new competition in Mr Alwyn’s honour was launched, called The Kenneth Alwyn Trophy.

DM1520252a.jpg BBC3 Radio host Kenneth Alwyn celebrates his 90th birthday at West Chiltington Golf Course. Arriving in a Gyrocopter piloted by Tony Fowler. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150730-082612008

DM1520252a.jpg BBC3 Radio host Kenneth Alwyn celebrates his 90th birthday at West Chiltington Golf Course. Arriving in a Gyrocopter piloted by Tony Fowler. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150730-082612008

To make the occasion extra special, club members decided to create a twist on the traditional ‘gunshot start’ to the game and used the sound of cannons sampled from Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

Mr Alwyn recorded Decca’s very first stereophonic recording with the popular festival overture, which he conducted in 1958.

“We decided to use the sound of live cannons at the end of the 1812 Overture and they used my recording, so instead of a shotgun we used cannons,” he said.

Champagne and sandwiches were handed around to guests.

“It was brilliant. All the club members did a fantastic job. Including the owners Martin and Debs Ormrod.

“It was a great day,” he added.

In 1957, Mr Alwyn joined the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London, where he shared the rostrum with the likes of Malcolm Sargent, Ernest Ansermet and Benjamin Britten.

Mr Arwyn has done extensive work with the BBC over the years, which included presenting the BBC TV series The Orchestra, where he conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1998, Mr Alwyn received a Grammy for Best Film Music Recording for his recording of ‘The Ladykillers: Music from Those Glorious Ealing Films’.

Now 90, Mr Alwyn said he feels ‘lucky’.

“I’m so pleased to be a playing member at this lovely club. I think it’s the best in West Sussex,” he said.

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