We were delighted to hear today that our former chairman, Iain Ball has been awarded the MBE for 'services to Cathedral Choral Music and to Young People'. We are obviously thrilled that Iain's hard work has been recognised and rewarded with such a prestigious accolade. When Iain retired as chairman in 2014, Elizabeth Cairncross, Principal of Wells Cathedral School, wrote the following tribute to him:
Iain Ball became chair of what was then the Wells Cathedral Girl Chorister Trust in 2004, after Canon Melvyn Matthews and I used what we like to think was tact, diplomacy and vision to persuade him. He tells it differently! The Trust had had a shaky start. It needed strong, inspired leadership, advocacy and drive. Iain brought all those qualities and more.
He works very hard. His meticulous preparation for trustees’ meetings, his seeking out of good people to be trustees (which continued even into the clear eyed succession plans for his own departure as chair), his thorough planning for events, and his building of a team to help him do that - all these were just the outward manifestation of hours of reflection and planning. And he worries productively. He told me that, having finished his term as chair, he could now sleep easily – and I don’t think it was an exaggeration.
Iain had – has – a vision for the Trust which has enabled him to lead the raising of a million pounds thus far. It meant that he steered its evolution into a trust for boy and girl choristers alike, when that became desirable, with charm and firmness, and managed to retain the support of those with a particular commitment to the girls’ cause. He has shared that vision with countless people, including his own friend Lady Marina Hobson, who has been such a generous enabler, and including HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex, who has become not only the Trust’s royal patron, but its friend and foremost cheerleader.
He has supported the whole choir through the opportunities for new and interesting music which Trust activities have given, and many people have had hours of quality entertainment through Trust events. And Iain is, above all else, generous. He shares his contacts and his friends – like Lady Marina – and he shares his hospitality. (He once told me that he believes it is a sacrament.) He thanks people warmly, quickly, and personally. He is trenchant, and he is kind. So he achieves things!
Helen [Iain's wife] has been a willing, generous and thoughtful ally and supporter through all these years, and needs our thanks as well. There are choristers now in the choir and the school who would not be there if it were not for Trust funding. There are young adult musicians making an impact for good in the world who started their musical careers in the choir because of the support of the Trust.
And perhaps his greatest success is that he leaves the leadership of the Trust at a point when it is both solid and developing, with clear ambition for the future, and the ability to realise that ambition. We owe Iain a great deal!
Principal, Wells Cathedral School