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This week #MondayMemories finds Nick Churchill recalling an encounter with a Lighthouse stalwart in whose company the years just fell away...

"It’s more than 30 years since I started reporting on local bands and gigs for the old Poole Advertiser. I’m sure it’s the same today, but a feature of the job in the late 1980s and early 1990s was the unbridled enthusiasm of music makers and on more than one occasion I was all but kidnapped from the office and bundled into the back of a van to hear a demo tape (cassette, that is) played at ear-shredding volume. Sometimes it was a torrid experience, other times it led to moments, hours, days even, of discovery. 

There are many Lighthouse memories but this one concerns a slight return to those heady times in the company of the late Graham Stansfield, a singular character of enormous artistic passions and integrity who programmed music and literature at Lighthouse for some 30 years.  

It was a late summer’s day some five years ago and he was drumming up a bit of noise for a festive concert by Wessex Consort, a choir of supremely talented young singers he had founded with Andrew King of The Sixteen (pictured together, with Graham on the leff). Brandishing a freshly minted CD-R of the Consort’s first album, ’Tis Christmastide he spotted me across the office and came over, excitedly explaining what he’d been up to as he escorted me through the building, out the Stage Door and into the car park. Moments later we were in my car listening to the beautifully arranged voices of the Consort intoning Thomas Hardy’s poem The Oxen, Benjamin Britten’s Balulalow and several of Graham’s own compositions including the playful Foxy. 

Every moment in Graham’s company was an education and he is greatly missed, but I particularly treasure that hour with its delightfully unexpected soundtrack."

Published 21 September 2020