ANNE ZIEGLER ON HER OWN (1985 – 1989)

After her bad experience in Bromley, Anne remarked, “Theatre as I knew it doesn’t exist any longer and now that I’ve had the award, I don’t need to work.”

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Anne lived on alone in the bungalow in Penrhyn Bay, North Wales for another 19 years until her own death in October of 2003. Obituary notices appeared in the Star and Rand Daily Mail, Johannesburg shortly after Webster’s death – I had not included these previously, so will do so now. The Rand Daily Mail’s obituary contained a few errors, like We’ll Gather VIOLETS, and several wrong dates!

25 June 1984 Rand Daily Mail.

Anne was still teaching a few pupils and had been booked to play the Fairy Godmother in Jack and the Beanstalk in Bromley at the end of the year. She decided to have a break in South Africa before she was due to go into the pantomime. It would do her good to get away from Penrhyn Bay, which was full of reminders of Webster’s illness and death. (Extract from my book: Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth (2006) (All additional information from the same book.)

Going to South Africa – September 1985.
Visiting Doris Boulton in South Africa.

Jean Buckley, their fan and friend of forty-two years, who had been very kind and supportive during Webster’s last illness, was working to raise money for the Webster Booth Memorial Fund in order to award a scholarship to a tenor at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

Webster, Jean Buckley and Anne visiting the Buckleys shortly after the Booths had returned to the UK in 1978.
Anne and Bonnie 1985 (Photo by fan and friend: Pamela Davies)
This message from Jean Buckley appeared in The Stage and Opera in September 1985.

Anne went to Bromley in November to play the Fairy Godmother in Jack and the Beanstalk. Contrary to what had been agreed with her agent, she discovered that she was to play a minimal part in the show. She had been promised a solo of her own choice, but when she arrived all that was required of her was thirty-six lines of dialogue and four bars of Only a Rose with “another character”. She was hurt and annoyed. (Extract from my book)

Bromley Pantomime. December 1985.

That was Anne’s last venture on to the stage. Although she was offered a decent part in panto at Plymouth the following year to make up for the poor one in Bromley, and was asked to take the part of an elderly actress who had once been a star of Operetta in Stephen Sondheim’s West End production of Follies, she turned both offers down. ( I believe Adele Leigh took the part Anne had been offered. I wonder if Adele Leigh knew that she had not been the first choice for the role!)

In April 1986 she received an Award from the Queen for services to music. This award took the form of a pension from the Civil List. It was made in both their names and Anne was saddened that Webster had not lived long enough to enjoy the honour and see the monetary benefit of it.

After her bad experience in Bromley, Anne remarked, “Theatre as I knew it doesn’t exist any longer and now that I’ve had the award, I don’t need to work.”

On 9 June 1986 Jean Buckley was able to take a cheque for £3250.00 to the RNCM, and on 10 December Anne presented an interim award of £500 for that year. The Duchess of Kent, the President of the College, presented the Diplomas to graduating students at the same ceremony.

Alan Keith had attended Webster’s memorial service in 1984 and was a great admirer of Anne and Webster.
New Year’s party (circa 1986) with Penrhyn Bay neighbours – Les and Peggy Williams, Anne, ?, Jean and Maurice Buckley at the Buckley home.
Anne with her friend and fan, Joan Tapper (from Mold) and Jean and Maurice Buckley.

Anne with tenor, Allun Davies (1987) after one of his concerts.
Jean, Anne and Babs with their pets outside Jean’s house in Rhos on Sea. (late 1980s)
14 October 1987 It’s a Funny Business.
January 1989 – Peter Firmani doing a tour of Memories of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.
Anne, Jean and Joan Tapper at Joan Tapper’s home to celebrate Anne’s birthday (circa 1989).

Jean Collen 28 May 2019.

BACK HOME AGAIN (1980 – 1984)

The early 1980s were still busy years for the Booths. They appeared in several TV talk shows. The studio audiences were made up of many of their old fans who were delighted to see their favourites still looking very glamorous indeed. Anne turned 70 in 1980, while Webster was 78. It looked as though they were as much in love then as the day they married in 1938. In late 1981 Webster’s health began to fail. He had to wait until January before he could have surgery done at the Royal Liverpool Hospital on 15 January 1982. He was not looking forward to spending his eightieth birthday in hospital.

The early 1980s were still busy years for the Booths. They appeared in several TV talk shows. The studio audiences were made up of many of their old fans who were delighted to see their favourites still looking very glamorous indeed. Anne turned 70 in 1980, while Webster was 78. It looked as though they were as much in love then as the day they married in 1938. In late 1981 Webster’s health began to fail. He had to wait until January before he could have surgery done at the Royal Liverpool Hospital on 15 January 1982. He was not looking forward to spending his eightieth birthday in hospital.

At home. 1980.
10 February 1980 – with Jess Yates and his girlfriend, Katie Brooks.
May 1980
3 to 10 May 1980. 35th anniversary of Victory in Europe.
30 June 1980. Report by Gordon Irving in South African newspapers.
This was a popular presentation which Anne and Webster presented around the country. Each took a turn to tell their individual life story and sang a few songs together to round the evening off.
19 September 1980 – Anne and Webster had coached Peter and Jackie while they were appearing in a summer show in Llandudno.
September 1980
29 January 1981 on the Russell Harty show. Webster had just had his 78th birthday a week earlier.
Some of the elderly fans in the studio audience.
6 February 1981 – Report from Gordon Irving in South African newspapers.
8 January 1982. In a letter to me, Webster referred to the article by Gordon Irving.
5 March 1981 – another appearance on Russell Harty’s TV show.
29 May 1981. Royal Variety Performance, Blackpool.
After the performance. Webster can be seen in the far left of the photo. When they were presented to Prince Charles he asked whether they were married!
13 August 1981. The Time of Your Life.
At the twenty-fifth wedding anniversary party for Jean and Maurice Buckley – 1981. I used this photo for the cover of my book, Sweethearts of Song.
Webster at the Buckley’s Silver Anniversary party, North Wales.
September 1981
1982 – review of a reissue of The Gondoliers from 1932.
1983 Border Television
Only a Rose TV interview 1983 Penrhyn Bay and Llandudno.
1983 Only a Rose TV interview
With the Firmanis – Only a Rose TV interview 1983.
Visiting the Buckleys. 1983.

Early on 22 June, Anne’s seventy-fourth birthday I received a call from Janet Swart, whom I had first encountered as Janet Goldsborough, singing in Mrs MacDonald-Rouse’s concert party. She was a regular listener to BBC World Service and knew of my association with Anne and Webster. She was thoughtful enough to let me know that it had been announced on News about Britain that morning that Webster had died in the early hours of the 21 June. I will always be grateful to Janet for making that call to me, as I would have been completely devastated to have heard such news in the media. I had been expecting him to die sooner or later, but it was still a great shock and deep sadness to me to hear the sad news of his death.

Webster had been at home for five or six weeks when he tripped on the doorstep as he was hurrying to get into the car with Anne to drive to the local park to take Bonnie for a walk. He suffered a severe blow to his head and was bleeding profusely. Anne struggled to get him into the car to take him to hospital, where he was treated in Casualty and sent home again, much to Anne’s consternation as she thought he should have been admitted to hospital after his fall.


During the night he developed pneumonia. She phoned the doctor who refused to make a night call to see him, so it was only in the morning that he was indeed admitted into hospital, as he should have been on the previous day. Anne stayed with him throughout the day. When she left in the evening she asked the staff to let her know at once if he was deteriorating so that she could return to the hospital right away. Sadly nobody phoned her when his condition deteriorated. She had spent a sleepless night, and phoned the hospital herself in the early hours of the morning, only to be told that his condition had worsened and he would probably not last until she reached the hospital.

Webster Booth, one of Britain’s finest tenors, died alone in his hospital bed in the early hours of 21 June 1984. Anne was devastated at his death, and furious at the poor medical treatment he had received during his last illness. The only thing that kept her going in the dark days after his death was Bonnie, the beloved Yorkshire terrier who had to be fed and walked each day.

22 June 1984.
25 June 1984. Obituary. Times
25 June 1984 – Rand Daily Mail.
28 June 1984 The Stage.
Write-up in the North Wales Weekly news – 28 June 1984, mentioning Jean Buckley who, at that time was a close friend and had done a great deal to help Anne during Webster’s final illness.

Babs Wilson-Hill was abroad at the time of Webster’s death so Anne delayed the cremation service until she arrived home. This placed an extra strain on Anne as she waited for the funeral to take place. Obituaries appeared in the national newspapers and once again there were mountains of post, this time with letters of condolence from friends and fans who remembered Webster with affection. There were far too many letters to answer personally so Anne had a letter of thanks printed to be sent to everyone who had written and it was Jean and Maurice who helped her to address all these letters

Peter Firmani, a tenor from Rotherham whom they had coached, sang I’ll Walk Beside You at the cremation service. Webster’s son Keith was heartbroken at his father’s death and found the service very harrowing. Jean and Maurice Buckley held a reception at their home for those who had attended the funeral.

The Star – 29 June 1984 – Gordon Irving, the UK correspondent for the Star Tonight wrote the obituary. He had it wrong about Webster being divorced by his first wife. In fact, he was divorced by his second wife with the stage name of Paddy Prior, whose name was indeed Dorothy Annie Alice Prior. He had divorced his first wife, mother of his son, Keith, Winifred Keey, in 1931 due to her adultery.
21 July 1984 – Only a Rose repeated.
Memorial Service. St Paul’s Covent Garden.
30 October 1984 – Memorial Service, St Paul’s -Anne and Evelyn Laye.
30 October 1984 – Memorial Service, St Paul’s -Anne and Evelyn Laye.

A memorial service was arranged for Webster at noon on 20 October 1984 at St Paul’s Church, the Actors’ Church in Covent Garden. Evelyn Laye read the lesson; David Welsby a BBC producer from Pebble Mill, Birmingham, with whom they had worked, did the Appreciation; Peter Firmani sang I’ll Walk Beside You once again. Despite Jean and Maurice’s kindness to Anne and Webster, they were not invited to this service.

The Reverend John Arrowsmith officiated at the service, assisted by the Precentor of Lincoln Cathedral, Canon David Rutter, who represented the choir school where Webster had spent his youth as a chorister. Webster’s ashes were buried in the ground of the Garden of Remembrance at St Paul’s. Keith, who had been so upset at the cremation service, decided not to attend the Memorial Service as he could not bear to go through another harrowing farewell to his father. Pictures of Anne and Evelyn Laye appeared in several national newspapers. Anne said that it was only when Webster’s ashes were buried in the grounds of the Churchyard that she finally realised that he was indeed dead and would never return.

Anne and Webster’s names had been linked for nearly fifty years. They had been married for forty-five years and, unlike most married couples who worked in different places, they had hardly spent any time apart. There were no children from the marriage. Anne was to live on her own in the bungalow in Penrhyn Bay for another nineteen years.

Jean Collen 27 May 2019.

All extracts in this post are taken from my book, Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.

Updated by Jean Collen on 26 July 2019.

JEAN BUCKLEY (26 May 1930 – 20 July 2017)

In 1943, Jean Buckley (née Newman) was thirteen years of age, living in wartime Manchester. Jean, an only child, was originally from London and the family had lived in Brighton for a time. When the war came her father decided that they might be safer living in Manchester. This did not prove to be the case. Jean spent many nights in a damp air raid shelter as German bombs fell on the city.

Jean had always loved Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth’s singing. She had a clear memory of hearing Webster singing Phil, the Fluter’s Ball with Fred Hartley and his quintet on the radio when she was a young child. As light relief from the sleepless nights in the damp air raid shelter, she and her mother attended many of their concerts and broadcasts in the city. They went backstage to see the couple and Jean saved her pocket money and collected coupons so that she could buy gifts to present to Anne when they went backstage. Anne and Webster saw Jean so often that they sent them complimentary tickets for broadcasts of Variety Bandbox and Variety Fanfare. She remembers Webster coming into the dressing room and greeting them with, “How are my two lovelies this evening?”

When Jean left school she went to work for Singer’s Sewing Machines and became a top sales woman with the company. Unknown to Anne and Webster she began to take singing lessons on a part time basis at the Northern School of Music and managed to obtain a few engagements. She told me that she did not mention this to the Booths in case they felt obliged to use their influence to advance her singing career.

Jean married Maurice Buckley in 1956 but was very upset when Anne and Webster decided to move to South Africa in the same year. They kept in touch with the Booths and she sent them copies of The Stage and other British newspapers while they were living there.

Maurice and Jean Buckley (1956)

When they returned to the UK in 1978 they lived near Jean and Maurice, and spent a lot of time with them. Jean said that Webster always enjoyed watching cricket on TV with Maurice. Jean baked a cake for Anne and Webster’s fortieth wedding anniversary in 1978.

Jean and her poodle, Trixie

A few years later, Jean and Maurice celebrated their Silver wedding anniversary. Here is a lovely photograph of Anne and Webster on that happy occasion. I used this photo as a front cover to my book, Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth

Anne and Webster (1981)

When Webster became ill and was admitted to a nursing home, Jean visited him regularly and took him out for a drive or for tea occasionally to give him a break from the nursing home. She put a tape recording of his records on the car radio. He disliked the nursing home and never wanted to return after his outing with Jean.

After his death, Jean did a great deal for Anne in one way and another. Jean was very hurt when Anne’s friend, Babs Wilson Hill introduced her to someone as “Anne’s greatest fan.” Jean replied, “I think I might be considered Anne’s greatest friend by now.”

The first time I heard of plans to establish a scholarship in Webster Booth’s name at the Royal Northern College of Music was in a letter from Anne Ziegler, dated 20 November 1985, just over a year after Webster Booth’s death on 21 June 1984.

Anne mentioned that a coffee morning had been held in the local church hall in aid of the Webster Booth Memorial Fund. Jean had proposed the idea of providing a scholarship in Webster’s name for a tenor to attend the RNCM for a year’s post-graduate study. Jean and her husband, Maurice worked hard to raise money for the Fund and by the time Anne wrote to me £1,600 had been raised towards the initial goal of £3,500. Anne’s letter continued:

November 20 1985 Anne to me

I wondered why the scholarship was to be awarded at the RNCM as Webster had studied singing with Dr Richard Wassall at the Midland Institute in Birmingham, fitting in lessons after he finished work at a firm of accountants. I knew that conductor Sir Charles Groves was chairman of the RNCM council at that time and Webster had often referred to him affectionately as “Charlie Groves” who had often conducted him in radio broadcasts, so I though that perhaps this was why Jean had chosen the RNCM for the Award.

Many years later, Jean told me why she had chosen the RNCM. In her late teens, she had studied singing part-time at the Northern School of Music, Manchester. This school and the Royal Manchester College of Music amalgamated in 1975 to form the Royal Northern College of Music, which was producing singing graduates of a very high calibre. Manchester was not too far from North Wales where Anne, Jean and Maurice lived. The trip to the College for the annual competition would not be too onerous for Anne as she grew older and it would not be necessary to stay overnight in the city after the Award had been presented.

Jean’s friend, journalist and broadcaster Natalie Anglesey, interviewed her on the BBC about the Webster Booth Memorial Fund, bringing news of it to a wider radio audience. Jean’s interview with Natalie

 Jean continued to raise funds by making things to sell, doing clothing alterations for a small fee, organising raffles, and collecting donations to the Fund from friends, fans, relatives of Webster and Anne, and local neighbours. Donations were often as little as £1 or £2, but occasionally bigger donations were made by societies such as the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society. Webster’s older brother, Edwin Norman Booth, his wife Annie and daughter Margaret took great interest in the progress of the Fund and helped Jean with fund-raising. Annie made beautiful rag dolls to sell, and each member of the family made regular substantial donations. Jean’s early singing training at the Northern College also benefited the Fund in a round-about way. She and her accompanist, Maureen, began entertaining at hotels around Llandudno and all the money Jean earned in this way went towards the fund. To publicise the Award she gave talks to various societies and clubs about Anne and Webster’s career.

Anne and Jean in Penrhyn Bay before going to the Royal Northern College, Manchester for the prize winners’ concert for the Webster Booth prize.

I did not meet Jean when I visited Anne in Penrhyn Bay in 1990, although Anne told me a great deal about her while I was there. Jean had even made a cake for our tea! Jean and I began our correspondence in 2007 and we often said how sorry we were that we had not met each other in 1990 as we could have become good friends.

After Webster’s death, Anne went on holiday with the Buckleys every year. They usually took self-catering accommodation and Jean did all the cooking.

Maurice and Jean on holiday with Anne and Bonnie in the 1990s.

Jean did a great deal to help Anne as she got older. She and Maurice created an en suite room in their home and would have been happy to have Anne to live there if ever she felt unable to continue living in her own home. Even when Maurice became ill, Jean still took Anne shopping, to doctor’s appointments and to the annual prize winners’ concert at the RNCM. When Anne’s gardener could not continue working Jean even helped Anne with the gardening!

Sadly, Anne and Jean fell out over a trivial matter several years before Anne’s death and they were never reconciled. I corresponded regularly with Jean for over ten years and I was sad when she lost her sight and had to move to a frail care home. She developed Alzheimer’s disease and I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to be in strange surroundings, unable to see and not remembering very much. She was an only child and had no children of her own. I was sad to hear that she died on 20 July 2017 at the age of eighty-seven. I hope she is now at peace. I will treasure the letters and emails she wrote to me, and the photos and memorabilia she sent to me. She will be sadly missed, but fondly remembered by me and friends who loved her.

Jean Collen ©

23 July 2017

 

WEBSTER BOOTH/ANNE ZIEGLER AWARDS AT ROYAL NORTHERN COLLEGE OF MUSIC, MANCHESTER

So the story of the Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler awards at the RNCM comes to an end, although perhaps one day a new sponsor might be found to reinstate them The names of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler might have been forgotten historical musical figures today, but thanks to the efforts of Jean and the late Maurice Buckley, and the generosity of the RNCM in creating and staging the awards for some time, Anne and Webster’s names and voices are known to many professional singers of the present generation. 

 
 
 
 
 
Webster Booth 
 
The first time I heard of plans to establish a scholarship in Webster Booth’s name at the Royal Northern College of Music was in a letter from Anne Ziegler, dated 20 November 1985, just over a year after Webster Booth’s death on 21 June 1984.
In a letter, Anne mentioned that a coffee morning had been held in the local church hall in aid of the Webster Booth Memorial Fund. Jean Buckley, Anne and Webster’s friend and fan of 42 years standing had proposed the idea of providing a scholarship in Webster’s name for a tenor to attend the RNCM for a year’s post-graduate study. Jean worked hard to raise money for the Fund and by the time Anne wrote to me £1,600 had been raised towards the initial goal of £3,500. Anne’s letter continued, “The place was packed – which delighted us. Everyone local turned up and it was a great success and we raised £400 towards the Fund.”
I wondered why the scholarship was to be awarded at the RNCM as Webster had studied singing with Dr Richard Wassall at the Midland Institute in Birmingham, fitting in lessons after he finished work at a firm of accountants. I knew that conductor Sir Charles Groves was chairman of the RNCM council at that time and Webster had often referred to him affectionately as “Charlie Groves” who had often conducted him in radio broadcasts, so I though that perhaps this was why Jean had chosen the RNCM for the Award.
Many years later, Jean Buckley told me why she had chosen the RNCM. In her late teens she had studied singing part-time at the Northern School of Music, Manchester. This school and the Royal Manchester College of Music amalgamated in 1975 to form the Royal Northern College of Music, which was producing singing graduates of a very high calibre. Manchester was not too far from North Wales where Anne, Jean and her husband, Maurice lived. The trip to the College for the annual competition would not be too onerous for Anne and it would not be necessary to stay overnight in the city after the Award had been presented.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Anne and Bonnie with Jean and Maurice Buckley on holiday in the nineties.

In 1985 Jean wrote to The Stage, as follows:

“Close friends and relations of the late Webster Booth are anxious to provide a yearly scholarship for a tenor student at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Any admirers of Webster Booth and the contribution he made to music world, who wish to join in this tribute, can send cheques or money orders to the Webster Booth Memorial Fund….Llandudno, Gwynedd.”
There was little response to her letter, but, undaunted, she continued to raise funds by making things to sell, doing clothing alterations for a small fee, organising raffles, and collecting donations to the Fund from friends, fans, relatives of Webster and Anne, and local neighbours. Donations were often as little as £1 or £2, but occasionally bigger donations were made by societies such as the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society. Webster’s older brother, Edwin Norman Booth, his wife Annie and daughter Margaret took great interest in the progress of the Fund and helped Jean with fund-raising. Annie made beautiful rag dolls to sell, and each member of the family made regular substantial donations. Jean’s early singing training at the Northern College also benefited the Fund in a round-about way. She and her accompanist, Maureen, began entertaining at hotels around Llandudno and all the money Jean earned in this way went towards the fund. To publicise the Award she gave talks to various societies and clubs about Anne and Webster’s career.
South Africa’s prime minister, P. W. Botha’s disappointing “Rubicon” speech saw the South African Rand rapidly lose value, but my husband and I were determined to make a donation although Anne discouraged me from doing so. Our R100 realised nearly £30 in 1986. At the time we thought the Rand was worthless but now, in 2017, R100 would exchange at less than £6!
Sir David Scott had been the British Ambassador to South Africa in the 1970s and Anne and Webster had been invited to the Embassy in Cape Town with the Kings’ Singers after one of their concerts. Brian Kay had persuaded them to sing The Keys of Heaven to his accompaniment at the gathering.
In the meantime, a friend of the Buckleys, music critic, John Robert Blunn suggested that they should contact the Palace Theatre, Manchester, managed by Bob Scott – later Sir Bob Scott – the son of Sir David. In turn, Sir Bob sent Mrs Buckley’s letter on to his father. Not only did Sir David make a generous personal donation but the New Moorgate Trust, a charitable fund based in London, which he managed, made a donation of £5000.00, giving a welcome boost to the Fund. Sir Bob also suggested that Jean should contact the Granada Trust and this Trust made a donation of £1000.00. Companies and deceased estates made substantial donations, including Lloyds Bank, N Smith Charitable Settlement, Tom Chandley Limited, and the Estate of Mary Paine. The Bramley Trust gave a generous donation to the Fund and Mrs Bramley made a personal donation to Jean to thank her for all her hard work. Needless to say, Jean added this amount to the Fund.
Jean’s friend, journalist and broadcaster Natalie Anglesey, interviewed her on the BBC about the Webster Booth Memorial Fund, bringing news of it to a wider radio audience. Jean’s interview with Natalie
On 6 June 1986 Jean was able to take a cheque for £3250.00 to the RNCM. The first Webster Booth Award was finally presented on 10 December 1986. Jean and Maurice had donated £500 for the prize rather than deplete the £3250.00 which Jean had given to the RNCM earlier that year.
The Duchess of Kent had presented diplomas to RNCM students at a graduation ceremony earlier that day so Jean and Anne were presented to her before she left the college. Later that evening Anne gave the cheque for £500.00 to tenor, Geraint Dodd, the first winner of the Webster Booth Award. There had been no time to hold a competition but the RNCM named Geraint Dodd as the most promising tenor of that year. In turn Geraint Dodd handed Anne a rose as he sang Only a Rose to her. Anne joined him in the singing and the audience, which included Joseph Ward (then head of Vocal Studies) and important guests who had attended the earlier graduation ceremony were touched and delighted. Anne was a STAR on that memorable night. Geraint Dodd joined the Welsh National Opera immediately after his graduation.
The following year, the prize money was increased to £750.00. The adjudicators of the competition were Alexander Young, Sylvia Jacobs and Caroline Crawshaw. Stephen Rooke, a Welsh tenor won the award and received his prize from Anne. It was hoped that the prize money the following year would increase further to £1000.00.
Maurice Buckley typed hundreds of letters to big business and in 1988 Esso plc became a sponsor for the Webster Booth Award. The RNCM also found an additional anonymous sponsor. With this sponsorship the award became much bigger in scope. Esso agreed to sponsor public concerts for the fund the following year. There would be three finalists competing for the award. In 1988 Anne was one of the three judges and presented the prize to New Zealander, Paul Whelan, then a bass baritone. Later Paul Whelan became a baritone and won the Song Prize in the Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 1993.
The prize was not awarded in 1989 but in 1990 the competition for the Webster Booth/Esso Award was held once again and this time the prize money was £5000.00. It had been decided that the competition would no longer be limited to tenors and that all male singers could enter the competition. In 1990 the panel of judges for the final were Ryland Davies (chairman), Anne Ziegler and Ava June.
At the end of 1990, at the suggestion of Joseph Ward, head of Vocal and Opera Studies, the College and Esso decided that a similar award should be made in Anne Ziegler’s name and the first Anne Ziegler/Esso Award for outstanding merit was made to Scottish soprano Rosalind Sutherland in 1991. This Award of £1000.00 was to be used towards the winner’s postgraduate studies at the RNCM. Prospective candidates were asked to perform works, including a duet, which reflected “the wide-ranging repertoire of the legendary tenor Webster Booth and his widow Anne Ziegler, whose remarkable partnership is commemorated in these awards”. By 1992 the competition was open to all suitably qualified singers regardless of gender.
The winner of the Webster Booth/Esso Award would receive £5000.00 for one year’s postgraduate study at the college, a stage audition at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and have engagements with the Hallé orchestra and the Camerata Orchestra. Under Esso sponsorship, the two prizes were awarded each year. Anne no longer judged the competition but continued to present the prizes and address the audience. Although she was over eighty and not in the best of health she continued to delight audiences with her charming speech at the finalists’ concerts. Anne was no longer performing so attending these concerts and presenting prizes to the winners gave her many more years of direct involvement with music than she would otherwise have enjoyed. She always said that on these wonderful occasions she and Jean were “treated like royalty” by everyone associated with the presentation at the RNCM.
Because of changes in company policy Esso terminated its sponsorship of the Webster Booth/Anne Ziegler awards in 1996. Esso gave a year’s notice about this change in order to give the Buckleys a chance to find new sponsors for the awards. In the interim period it was decided that the College would find £1000.00 for the Webster Booth Award while the original money raised by the Buckleys would yield £1000.00 for the Anne Ziegler Award.
 
Once again, the Buckleys began writing to various institutions hoping to find new sponsorship, including Arts for Everyone and the National Lottery, but unfortunately their appeal was turned down by both these institutions. The College in 2001 and 2002 found a generous sponsor in Chartered Accountants Lloyd Piggott.
 
In 2000, the year of Anne’s ninetieth birthday, the RNCM hosted a luncheon party for Anne at Bodysgallen Hall Hotel, Llanrhos. The RNCM was represented by Christopher Yates and Eileen Henry. Jean and Maurice Buckley and the winners of the Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler awards for that year, Sarah Cox (soprano) and Tom Raskin (tenor) were guests at the lunch. In 2001 the judges were Adele Leigh, John Savident and Caroline Crawshaw. Unfortunately Anne was unable to attend the competition. Her health was failing and she died two years later on 13 October 2003.
 
Sadly, the Webster Booth Award was discontinued after 2002 when soprano Lee Bissett from Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire, won £2000.00. She went on to represent Scotland in the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 2005.
 
Earlier winners of the Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler Awards who also represented their countries in the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, included:
 
Paul Whelan WB Award 1988 (baritone): New Zealand, 1993, Song Prize winner
Ashley Holland WB Award 1994 (baritone) England 1995
Rosalind Sutherland AZ Award 1991 (soprano) Scotland 1995 Finalist
Roland Wood WB Award 1998 (baritone) England 2003
 
The College continued to present the Anne Ziegler Award each year. When asked by the late Eileen Henry, Development Manager of the RNCM in 2002, Jean agreed that the Anne Ziegler Award should continue, funded by the remaining money she and her husband Maurice had helped to raise. I am not sure if Anne’s award continues as I have lost contact with the RNCM and Jean Buckley is no longer in good health. The winner in 2009 was tenor Sipho Fubesi from Centane, Eastern Cape, South Africa, which would have pleased Anne since she and Webster had lived and worked in South Africa for 22 years.

WEBSTER BOOTH AWARD WINNERS 

 1986 Geraint Dodd, tenor 

1987 Stephen Rooke, tenor, Wales

1988 Paul Whelan, Bass baritone. (Represented New Zealand in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and won the Song Prize 1993) 
1989 No prize awarded
1994 Ashley Holland –baritone (Represented England in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 1995)
1995 Darrell Babidge – baritone (shared)
1996 Mari-Kjersti Tennfjord – soprano
1997 Antonia Sotgiu – mezzo soprano
1998 Roland Wood –bass-baritone (changed to baritone) (Represented England in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 2003)
1999 Toby Stafford-Allen – baritone
Lee Bissett–soprano. (Represented Scotland in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 2005) 

ANNE ZIEGLER AWARD WINNERS

 1991 Rosalind Sutherland –Soprano (Represented Scotland in Cardiff Singer of the World Competition 1995 and was a finalist in the competition)
1997 Daniel Broad baritone
2002 Stephen Pascoe – baritone
2005 Simon Buttle – tenor England  Simon Buttle was the last singer to win the Anne Ziegler Award by competition.
After 2005 the concert was no longer held and the award was made to a promising singer by the Head of Vocal and Operatic Studies in consultation with departmental staff.
2006 Sarah Lawson
2007 Cressida van Gordon – soprano
2011/2012 Stuart Orme

2015/16 Fiona Finsbury

Suzie Thompson, the Director of  Development at the RNCM told me that in 2016  it was decided that the College had been funding the Anne Ziegler award for a number of years without any external funding to support the payment of the award.  Several of the prizes were cut in that year.  Apart from financial considerations, the students were under great pressure preparing for an increasing number of prizes and competitions so it was thought that it would be better that they should compete for fewer prizes.

Jean Buckley died in July 2017 and I believe she made a bequest to the RNCM to present an award in the joint names of her and her late husband, Maurice, who did so much work to create and finance the Webster Booth award in 1986.

So the story of the Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler awards at the RNCM comes to an end, although perhaps one day a new sponsor might be found to reinstate them The names of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler might have been forgotten historical musical figures today, but thanks to the efforts of Jean and the late Maurice Buckley, and the generosity of the RNCM in creating and staging the awards for some time, Anne and Webster’s names and voices are known to many professional singers of the present generation. 

I heard this morning that Joseph Ward, head of opera studies at the RNCM for 18 years until 1991 when he took up a position in Australia, had died. He was a staunch supporter of the work that the late Jean Buckley had done to promote the Webster Booth award at the RNCM and said in  a letter to her in 1991:

I would like to take this opportunity of thanking you especially for your hard work in promoting the Webster Booth Esso award. In doing so you have established a very valuable scholarship which has already benefitted several of our students and will, no doubt, continue to promote the careers of young singers for many years to come.

Sadly, Esso withdrew its sponsorship of the award several years later.


Jean Collen
© December 2009
Updated January 2019
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