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Helston mourns music teacher and theatre leading light George Shutter
6:00am Thursday 23rd January 2014 in News
A former Helston music master and well known leading light in the town’s theatre world has died at the age of 79.
A funeral for George Shutter will now take place at 11am this Friday at St Michael’s Church, which is expected to be filled with mourners from across the town and Lizard Peninsula area.
Mr Shutter, who had lived at Penview Crescent since the 1970s, taught in Helston for almost 30 years.
Upon retirement he became heavily involved in theatre productions in the town, was rehearsal pianist for Helston Chamber Choir and relief organist for the town’s parish, Methodist and Catholic churches, plus a regular organist for Wendron Parish Church and at RNAS Culdrose.
His sister Hazel said: “He would help anybody. He was always, from a child, a man of few words, but a few words expressed everything.”
Mr Shutter arrived in Helston in 1961, where he taught at Gwealhellis School, the secondary modern.
When it combined with the town’s grammar school and the ‘Green School’ in Penrose Road Mr Shutter became head of music at the newly formed Helston School, where he remained until the late 1980s.
Describing him as “inspirational,” former colleague Mike Thomas said: “He kept music on the map. He basically promoted music in a very positive way and helped lead it to the great standard we have there today.”
Nicholas Armfelt, who Mr Shutter first met when lodging in Porthleven and later went on to be a colleague at Helston School, said it was following retirement that his friend really “blossomed.”
A talented and versatile musician who played the organ, harpsichord, keyboard and harp, he got involved in almost all musical projects in the town – whether it was for Helston Theatre Company or Helston Methodist Church Drama Group – plus further afield with the Miracle Theatre Company and Duchy Singers.
Gillian Geer worked with him for 40 years in theatre performances in Helston and said: “He did the first pantomime with us when it was Meneage Arts Players and has done pretty much every show and musical in the area since.
“He was the most superb accompanist the area had – you could never better him.”
She told the story of how once, in a performance, a little girl went off key during a solo and to spare her blushes Mr Shutter followed her up the keyboard rather than have her sounding off.
“He was so, so talented,” added Mrs Geer.
Mr Shutter not only accompanied shows, however, but also on occasion conducted and even performed – including a role as the pianist in the Helston Theatre Company production of Show Boat, extended especially for him.
Elsewhere in the town he accompanied the Blue Anchor cabaret shows and was also the accompanist of choice for opera singer Angela Thomas.
Outside of music, Mr Shutter was a keen walker and bird watcher who travelled to far flung places including Tahiti, Bora Bora and Easter Island to see rare birds, butterflies and flowers.
He became a resident at Poldhu Nursing Home just before Christmas and died on January 9, following a battle with cancer.
His funeral will take place this Friday (January 24) at 11am, at St Michael’s Church, followed by a private interment.
The family have asked for no flowers, but donations can be made in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support Cornwall or sent via Pendle Funeral Services at St Johns, Helston.
Mr Shutter grew up in Surrey before attending Oxford University to study music at Lincoln College.
He carried out his National Service in the RAF and then did teaching practise in Birmingham before moving to the Helston area.
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