Death severs long friendship
The death of popular British composer Ron Goodwin this week has severed a long friendship with a former Hastings deputy mayor.
It was roses that sparked a long and enduring friendship between former Hastings deputy Mayor Ron Shakespeare and world-famous English composer Ron Goodwin. And it was a friendship that lasted 20 years.
Mr Shakespeare was deeply shocked yesterday when he learned Goodwin, 77, had died suddenly at his Berkshire home on Wednesday. The friends had exchanged seasonal greetings just on Christmas Day.
Goodwin wrote themes for movies such as The Battle of Britain, and the music for popular films such as Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines and Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy.
As Ron Goodwin and his Concert Orchestra, he was signed up by Beatles producer George Martin. For 30 years Goodwin toured the world as a conductor, performing a mixture of classic works and popular hits from James Bond themes to Abba tunes.
As Mr Shakespeare put it, Goodwin was still “going flat-stick”: Just last month he presented his annual series of Christmas shows with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
Hawke’s Bay was included in the tour schedule, Mr Goodwin often remarking how much he liked the Napier and Hastings municipal theatres, Mr Shakespeare said.
After being introduced he went to Mr Shakespeare’s home after a show for a cup of coffee and sometimes a long chat, something that became a regular habit.
That’s when he spotted the roses and over the years would often inquire about them in letters to Mr Shakespeare.
They would never talk shop. “It was just common talk between two people. We could talk about any subject, right from the word go,” Mr Shakespeare said.
In 1984 Ron Goodwin and his orchestra performed in Hastings on his 59th birthday. Just before the start of the second half Mr Shakespeare organised an orchestral rendition of “Happy Birthday”, a birthday sign, streamers, and balloons descending from the ceiling, popped gleefully by the cellists with their bows.
It was certainly a surprise for the conductor, and Mr Shakespeare has a fair idea of what might have happened if Ron Goodwin had managed to get hold of him.
“Everyone went berserk, it was joyful pandemonium for about five minutes. At the end of the second half he got a standing ovation, the likes of which I’d never seen before.”
The pair last farewelled each other in person in Wellington on October 12, 1998, the day after Goodwin had conducted a performance in the capital. Mr Shakespeare recalls someone at the time saying she could hear the laughing all over the hotel.
Mr Goodwin was a jolly, good-humoured chap, always telling yarns and having a chat to the audience.
He also had a soft spot for Hawke’s Bay, and was always there to extend a helping hand to locals studying in the UK if they needed it, Mr Shakespeare said.
“He had such a good sense of humour, he will never be forgotten in New Zealand.”
Ron Goodwin is survived by his wife Heather, and son Christopher.
Photo captions –
BLOOMING FRIENDSHIP: Ron Shakespeare among the roses in his garden, reflecting on his friendship with Ron Goodwin.
HB TODAY PICTURE: DUNCAN BROWN
PRINTED MEMORY: Former Hastings Mayor Jeremy Dwyer, Ron Shakespeare and Ron Goodwin, captured by the Hawke’s Bay Herald Tribune on his last visit to Hawke’s Bay in 1993.