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Ted Poole - 1925-2018

On the 6th March, a couple of months short of his 93rd birthday, Ted Poole died. It's difficult to write those words, but it's even more difficult to believe them.

Ted and Ivy Poole started Swindon Folksingers' Club in January 1960, and ran it up until 2004, when they handed over the reins to Eric Stott. That's right. The club is still running, after 58 years! What's more, Ted and Ivy continued to attend, and continued to sing at the club, every week, until very recently.

There has been a huge online response to Ted's death. He touched, and changed, innumerable lives, including mine.

In January 1970, two 16 year old schoolboys, my pal John Burge and I, walked into the club room of The Greyhound, Swindon. Ivy was on the door. We didn't have quite enough money for the entrance fee to the club, but she let us in anyway. The first voice I ever heard in a folk club was Ivy's, and the second was Ted's, as he introduced the next singer.

Over the following few years, Ted took us under his wing, and a wise and kind wing it was. John and I went with Ted and Ivy to Sidmouth Folk Festival in 1971. By the end of the week, I was broke. When we were invited on to Falmouth Festival, Ted and Ivy paid my way for that extra weekend. This was typical of Ted. The online tributes refer repeatedly to Ted's kindness and generosity. Over and over again, people describe him as a real gentleman, which he most certainly was.

Ted and Ivy, along with fellow club members, spent every Whitsun at Bampton, for the Morris dancing. That the club had a standing invitation to the Bampton Morris Christmas party, and that a number of Bampton dancers always came to the club Christmas party, is testimony to Ted's gift for making friends everywhere he went.

Ted and Ivy's dedication to folk music and song was recognised by EFDSS when, in 2007, they received an award, presented at Cecil Sharp House, and accepted with customary humility.

Alongside Ted's dedication to the cause of 'folk', was his devotion to the cause of socialism. He was a long time member of The Communist Party. Regardless of how late he might have been up putting the world to rights after the folk club on a Friday, he would be up and out early on a Saturday, delivering The Morning Star to Party members, to sympathisers and to those, like my dad, who took the paper because Ted was such a nice bloke.

In everything he did, Ted demonstrated the respect he had for ordinary working people. He respected them, he respected their music and song, and he showed it by the way he treated others. That, in the end, is why he himself was so liked and respected by all who knew him. That's why the folk scene in general, and Swindon Folksingers' Club in particular, will miss him so much.

I still can't believe he is gone, and neither, I think, could those who gathered from all parts of the country for his funeral. The outer doors of the chapel at Swindon Crematorium had to be left open so that those who couldn't get in could see and hear. People representing, in effect, every aspect of Ted's long and busy life were there.

This, together with the highly musical wake that followed, was an apt tribute to a man who was an absolute stalwart of the folk scene.

Mick Ryan