More than 70 years of making music in Norwich

Derek James meets cellist Frank Pond, who will be playing at the Holocaust Day Memorial Service in Norwich next Thursday.

The haunting sound of the cello will fill the air at the heart-rending Holocaust Day Memorial Service at St Peter Mancroft Church in Norwich next Thursday (January 27). And the musician will be a man who has served us well over the decades.

His name is Frank Pond.

'It is an honour for me to have been asked to take part in this very special service,' said Frank.

And what better instrument to play at such a time.

'The cello really has a soul. It is as if someone takes over when I start to play. It is very special,' said Frank, now aged 86.

His musical career began in Norwich before the start of the Second World War and all the horrors that followed. He was a member of the City of Norwich School Orchestra.

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It had just been formed when a number of Leonard Ward's pupils moved to the school from Avenue Road School.

'One boy had learned the viola, and I, who had started at the school in 1935, was simply instructed by the formidable Mr M N Doe to learn the cello,' said Frank. 'I had little say in the matter as he had already arranged it with my father, James Pond, a professional cellist,' he added.

That was the start... and he has loved playing the cello ever since.

His father, along with Leonard Ward, became the first two peripatetic teachers in Norwich.

'I have continued to play the cello all my life and still derive great pleasure from it,' said Frank. 'I am still in touch with Jack Wilde, the leader of the orchestra – sitting on my right. He no longer plays, but helps his grandchildren with their violin playing,' he said.

Frank added: 'It is much to Mr Doe's credit that in five years the modest string orchestra had grown to a full symphony orchestra.'

When Frank left CNS he went to work at City Hall, where he had a number of jobs, including working in the mental health field.

In those days many of the CNS lads without wealthy parents went to Norwich Union, the EDP/Evening News or City Hall – and for many it was a career which lasted much of their life.

'I retired in 1981 and have been able to devote my time to may interests of painting and music,' said Frank, who added: 'I am very fortunate that I think I now playing better than ever before.

'I have been greatly helped by Peter Stevenson, another CNS Old Boy, who became internationally known as a cathedral organist before retiring to his native Norwich and playing the organ at Princes Street Church.'

He has also encouraged him to write his own music which he has now done.

Married to former Blyth Grammar School girl Jean, a former teacher at Avenue Road who became a Blue Badge guide in Norwich, the couple have two daughters following in their father's footsteps.

Elizabeth also plays the cello and lives in Leicester while Kathryn, of Oxford, is a teacher and pianist.