Littlehampton: in fond memory of Joe

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Littlehampton’s Edwin James Festival Choir remembers fondly one of its finest at its forthcoming concert performance of One Sun, One World, an environmentally-themed work by Peter Rose and Anne Conlon.

Spokeswoman Madeleine Wadley said: “Commissioned by the World Wide Fund for their 50th anniversary, One Sun, One World has an environmental theme that reaches out with a message of hope for the future of the natural world and humanity’s place within it. The musical takes the audience on a journey through the great forces of earth, the power of the sun, the ocean tides, wind patterns, the miracle of rainfall and a web of cold and heat.

“One Sun, One World has been chosen as a musical memorial for Joe Costa, a larger-than-life, well-loved member of the choir and Littlehampton local community who lost his battle for life in February.

“Joe was born in Singapore in March 1940 during the Japanese occupation and was the youngest of five children. His father was Spanish and a civil engineer who had been posted to Singapore prior to the war and unable to return to Spain. He met Joe’s Vietnamese mother while travelling. She was very strict with her children to protect them from the soldiers and died ensuring they had food daily. Joe remembered little about Singapore except the Japanese encampment near the village where he lived, Jalan Seyom. Joe spoke several languages – Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and English and was looked after by his step-sis. They immediately took him out of education and used him as a household servant. When his sister returned she sent Joe back into full-time education under the care of a French priest at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd.

“Joe lived there and served at services held in Latin, later gaining work experience as a messenger and later in a shoe shop. Joe wanted to emigrate and the priest encouraged him to save hard for his journey and kindly gave him half the money. At the age of 15, Joe finally secured what proved to be a traumatic sea passage, alone but befriended by a Vietnamese man. Joe had met an Englishwoman prior to his departure who had him encouraged to visit Newcastle-upon-Tyne to see her parents. His journey took him via Genoa, Marseilles, Dunkirk, Dieppe, Dover and finally a train to Newcastle. On arrival he discovered the Englishwoman was staying at her parents home and they set about making a safe life for Joe, helped him secure a job at the Royal Station Hotel and wanted to adopt him.

“Joe Costa met his future wife Eva at a dance hall in 1960 and within six months of meeting they were married. In 1966 they moved to Colchester where they lived for 38 years where Joe worked as an engineer. Following redundancy the couple set up tea rooms which they ran for several years before moving to Selwyn Avenue in Wick in 1995 with Joe obtaining work at Euro-therm and Eva at Hi-Tech. Joe retired at the age of 68 due to ill health. He loved his family, his many friends, gardening (winning awards in the Littlehampton Town Garden Competitions), cooking - famed for his curries, profiteroles and lemon drizzle cake. Joe and Eva attended Wick Chapel for a few years and then Parkside Evengelical Church where he played in the music group.”

James Rushman, musical director for the Edwin James Festival Choir, said: “Joe and Eva joined the choir seventeen years ago. Our motto is Music is Life and it certainly was for Joe who not only sang but played the oboe, clarinet and keyboard. He became very accomplished and joined The Littlehampton Town Concert Band and the music group at the church. Joe was small in stature but big in heart. Nothing was ever too much trouble for him and he will be remembered by all who met him as a gentle man with a big heart. He loved the choir, his music, the concert band and was a loyal friend. His big smile, Geordie/Asian accent and tam-o-shanter will long remain in the memory of all who knew him, not to mention his famed lemon drizzle cake.”

The Edwin James Festival Choir will be performing One Sun, One World on Saturday, August 27 at the Parkside Evangelical Church at 4pm. There is no admission charge but there will be a retiring collection in aid of St Barnabas Hospice. All are welcome.

The Edwin James Festival Choir rehearse every Wednesday evening from 7.30pm at St James’s Church Hall, East Ham Road, Littlehampton, and prospective members of all ages are welcome to visit. More information from www.edwinjamesfestivalchoir.co.uk. The choir is currently rehearsing the Faure Requiem, Goodall’s Every Purpose Under the Heaven as well as Rock Nativity by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent.