‘Yule Duel’ swan song for one music-loving school counsellor in Surrey

Students in Guildford sing in fundraiser for hospice that cared for choir leader’s ex-wife.

School counsellor Jim Edmondson (with guitar) and members of the Harold Bishop Elementary choir taking part in the Yule Duel event in Vancouver on Thursday (Dec. 1).

SURREY — Jim Edmondson has been organizing before-school singing sessions in Surrey for as long as he can remember, and he has recycled posters to prove it.

“Some of them are getting really ratty and old,” he said of his 20-year collection of “Carolling Before School with Mr. E” advisories, some of them currently taped to hallway walls at Harold Bishop Elementary in Guildford.

Edmondson is a school counsellor there, and he’ll soon retire after four decades of work in Surrey schools.

“I started teaching in Surrey in 1974, I’ve been a counsellor since ’83 and I bopped around from school to school, mostly in North Surrey,” he explained. “This is my last school. I’ve been down to two days a week since 2009, and I keep threatening to retire, but now it’s final, I’m done – not at the end of the school year but in December.”

And so, Mr. E will close the book on his education career, but not before he boards a Vancouver-bound bus with a group of Harold Bishop kids that share his love of singing.

(story continues below photo)

PICTURED: Students and school staff sing at Harold Bishop Elementary in Guildford. Photo: Tom Zillich

For weeks, the before-school carollers have been practising 30 minutes a day, two days a week, for Yule Duel. The festive event, which will be held in Gastown on Thursday evening (Dec. 1), is billed as “Vancouver’s largest outdoor carolling competition,” featuring a couple dozen vocal groups – everything from professional to, well, the gang from Harold Bishop.

For Edmondson, this musical “swan song” of his plays close to his heart, as Yule Duel serves as a fundaising event for May’s Place, a hospice in Vancouver operated by the non-profit Bloom Group.

“My ex-wife, but only just, died in one of their palliative care centres (The Cottage) in August of 2015,” Edmondson said.

“It’s a wonderful place,” he added.

“This is my way of helping them.”

So far, the sole contribution posted on the choir’s Fundrazr.com page is $1,000, from Rositch Hemphill Architects.

At Yule Duel, with guitar in hand and well-photocopied “Songs for Christmas” sheets distributed, Edmondson will strum and sing with the kids for 45 minutes.

Naturally, the students are pretty stoked about a school-night road trip that will involve a pre-performance dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory.

“These are kids from (Kindergarten) to Grade 7,” Edmondson said, “and some of the younger kids will sing ‘Rudolph’ and ‘Jingle Bells’ and maybe make some noises for the rest of it because they don’t know the words, and the older kids will fill in the blanks.”

(story continues below photo)

Edmondson’s song sheet includes lyrics to his own “The Alternate Noel,” a humorous riff on “The First Noel” melody that confirms yes, Santa’s name is spelled with “no ‘l,’ no ‘l’… And he won’t bring you gifts if you don’t learn to spell.

“That’s the end of this tune and you probably can tell,” the song concludes, “That we’ve ruined it completely, that song you know well.”

Whatever the song, Edmondson has made music more memorable for kids, some of whom have been carolling with him for six years at Harold Bishop.

“This is the first and last time they’ll do (Yule Duel), unless somebody picks up where I’ve left off here,” Edmondson said.

On Water Street, Yule Duel will run from 6 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 1. Those who attend are encouraged to purchase a $5 button in order to vote for their favourite choir in a variety of categories.

At 8 p.m., a panel of judges will pick the top two ensembles to “duel” it out on stage. This year’s judges include Surrey-raised Rebecca Bolwitt, who runs Miss604.com, and Guildford resident Morna Edmondson, director of Elektra Women’s Choir.

Additional event details are posted at Yuleduel.com, or visit Facebook.com/YuleDuel.

(Scroll down to see event promo video)

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com

 

Yule Duel – Vancouver’s First Street-Carolling Competition from thebloomgroup on Vimeo.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Surrey hair salon joins sustainability initiative

Hair can be used to create boom to clean up oil spills: Green Circle Salons

White Rock breaks temperature record

B.C. city was the hottest in all of Canada

South Surrey church members ‘praying for accused mother… for the whole process’

Lisa Batstone’s second-degree murder trial continues this week in B.C. Supreme Court

City will ask Fraser Health to remove pay parking at SMH, Surrey councillor says

Surrey’s new council has already made parking free on neighbouring city streets

VIDEO: Health and Technology District breaks ground on new building

City Centre 3 is the third of eight planned buildings: Lark Group

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Everett pulls ahead in Western Conference standings over Vancouver Giants

Western Hockey League’s G-Men, who lost 6-5 to Everett Saturday, now prepares to take on Victoria.

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

1 woman dead, man in hospital after ‘suspicious’ crash: police

Homicide investigators and Burnaby RCMP are investigating the fatal collision

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Most Read