Sam and Roger invited to Coronation anniversary

Roger Dormer and Sam Greenaway
Roger Dormer and Sam Greenaway

Two Lurgan men are in London this week to renew their acquaintances with the Queen, who is celebrating the anniversary of her Coronation.

Sixty years ago sopranos Sam Greenaway and Roger Dormer, both members of the same choir in Armagh, were hand-picked to sing at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey.

Earlier this month the pair were reunited with fellow choristers at Addington Place where they’d stayed for a month in 1953 in preparation for the event. The reunion had been organised by the BBC. Sam and Roger agreed it was a bittersweet occasion.

Roger (71), the youngest member of the choir in 1953, said: “It was great to have the chance to see this magnificent building again.

“There were seven of us over from Ireland in 1953. This time there was only Sam, myself and Edmund Officer from Belfast. They couldn’t track down two of them and another two had passed on. It was great to be part of the reunion, but sad people were missing.”

Not surprising the 400-strong choir, which included members from throughout the Commonwealth had dwindled in numbers over the past 60 years but those who made the reunion event were in very good form according to 73-year-old Sam.

He commented: “We all went there over half a century ago and met as strangers. This time we all met as friends. Considering what’s been going on in this country (Northern Ireland) for the past 60 years Roger, Edmund and myself did well to be back.”

Sam and Roger returned to London this week for the 60th anniversary event on Tuesday at Westminster Abbey to mark the Queen’s Coronation.

Roger said: “Thankfully we don’t have to sing this time. As you may have guessed, I’m not a soprano any more.”

Sam continued: “I’m looking forward to the trip down memory lane.”

Sam and Roger lived less than a mile apart in Armagh and having moved to Lurgan independently both men settled roughly the same distance apart again at Avenue Road and Kingsway Grove.

Sam’s wife of 35 years, Francis, passed away eight years ago. Together they had two children - Sam Junior and Denise.

Sam will be joined on the trip to London by his girlfriend Sandra Rutherford.

Roger and his wife Barbara have three children - Michelle, Richard and Paul.

Their son Richard is a renowned playwright and actor, who starred as Alex Higgins in the stage production of ‘Hurricane’ and played the lead role in the Terry Hooley biopic, ‘Good Vibrations’.