Terry Hemuss: Tribute to much-loved Music teacher
January 9, 2020

Terry Hemuss (1937-2019) – a reflection by Lucy Davies (OR)

The Rydal Penrhos school community was saddened to hear just after Christmas that Terry Hemuss had died suddenly.

Terry was a much loved music teacher at Rydal School from 1971 to 1994. I am sure that many former pupils will remember his quiet encouragement of all things musical and how he played such a pivotal role in some of our strongest school memories; I remember singing a solo in a school production of ‘Oh, What a Lovely War’.

The song was actually the tongue twister, ‘Sister Suzie’s sewing shirts for soldiers’ and a group of girls attempted time and time again to remember our lines, sing them correctly, perform dance moves and keep in time.

It was Mr Hemuss who played the piano over and over again, never once complaining…he really was the most brilliant accompanist.

Terry and his wife, Gwynne, moved to the Colwyn Bay area in 1971 when Terry took up his position at Rydal School, working with Percy Heywood, the Head of Music and Walter Jones, the organist. Terry was brought in to boost the instrumental side of music as the choral side was already very strong (well we are in Wales!).

This was a fantastic move by the school as not only was Terry an accomplished pianist and organist, he was also a competent clarinet and trumpet player. He founded an orchestra as well as smaller groups and encouraged every pupil to take up an instrument.

His wild collection of colourful socks always ensured that he could not be pigeon-holed by the boys as being a bit old-fashioned!

As the Prep School began to take on more girls, Gwynne joined Terry in working at Rydal in 1978.

They had three children, two of whom became pupils at the school. Terry was a talented arranger of music and would write out parts for whatever instruments he had available for every concert. In my Upper Sixth I remember a fabulous concert that Robert Smith, the Head of Music, collaborated on with Terry and also choir members from the community whom Terry worked with.

We did an ambitious performance of ‘Carmina Burana’ by Carl Orff. I remember Mr. Smith telling us that we would be singing a collection of 12th century poems…in Latin! We were not impressed.

However Mr Hemuss hinted that many of the poems were too ‘racy’ to translate! We never found out if this was true but we sang with much gusto!

The singing at the annual carol services was also enhanced by the band of brass and wind instruments accompanying the singing with amazing descants all arranged by Terry.

Terry remained very active in the local music scene after retiring to Llandudno in 1994. He worked with the Llandudno Show Players and then became musical director for nine years for the highly acclaimed show-group, ‘A Touch of Class’.

This group raised thousands of pounds for local charities and Terry was very much the organiser. He also played a major role as organist at St. Paul’s Church, Craig y Don and even until late last year Terry continued playing the piano in local homes for the elderly.

Terry’s love of music was infectious, he was a very kind man who gave much to generations of music pupils as well as his local community and he will be sorely missed.

Gwynne and the family would be pleased to invite any friends or former pupils to Terry’s funeral which will be held on Monday, January 20 at 2pm at St. Paul’s Church, Craig y Don where he played the organ for nearly 20 years.

Mrs L Davies

Head of Prep