Two in Accord: Worthing accordionist plays in memory of music partner to raise money for NSPCC South East

A long-standing Worthing accordionist has taken on a charity challenge for NSPCC South East in memory of her music partner of more than 25 years, the other half of the duet Two in Accord.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 4:50 pm

Bill Perkins died suddenly at the end of November 2019 and Shirley Verenne is paying tribute to him by playing 100 pieces of music from memory, a Captain Tom 100 challenge.

The duet was formed in 1993 as a result of an advert Shirley placed in the Worthing Herald. Bill thought he would ‘give it a go’ and Two in Accord went on to play at venues across the south.

Shirley, of Heene Terrace, said: “I am 84 years of age and have enjoyed playing the accordion for many years for many events and to raise money for the NSPCC by organising local musical evenings every year.

Shirley Verenne and Bill Perkins playing as Two in Accord in 2018. Picture: Derek Martin DM18110641a
Shirley Verenne and Bill Perkins playing as Two in Accord in 2018. Picture: Derek Martin DM18110641a

“I will play solo 100 pieces of music in remembrance of Bill and our duet music, quoting from one of many compliments over 26 years, ‘You and Bill brought so much happiness and joy to the world with your wonderful playing’ from English Martyrs Church, and ‘We hope you can continue to play solo and bring people pleasure’. I will try to do that from now on, because we all need to music to soothe our disturbed lives.”

She also wanted to complete the Captain Tom 100 challenge to honour Captain Sir Thomas Moore’s great effort for NHS Charities Together.

Shirely explained: “The family suggested on the occasion of what would have been his 101st birthday at the end of April that anyone can do something 100 times, in his memory, to raise money for their chosen charity.

“My effort is to help children and their families through this worthy charity. The NSPCC and Childline are inundated with thousands of calls from children every month, worried and anxious.

“I have been a supporter of the NSPCC for 35 years and chose to play 100 pieces of music, most from memory, on my accordion. The music consisted of continental, Scottish and Irish accordion arrangements. It was very difficult following the year of the pandemic worries and not having practised my playing as usual.”

Shirley first started playing at 12 years old when her father bought her an accordion and picked up the hobby again in her 50s.

She took lessons with Keith Harling in Eastbourne, who wrote the UK’s runner-up Eurovision Song Contest entry that was beaten by Sandie Shaw’s Puppet on a String in 1967.

After studying music theory and playing, she gradually set up an accordion band of 14 musicians, called Shirley’s Accordionists. Bill was part of that group and after other members retired, he and Shirley continued as a duet.

She said: “We played for the opening of the Remembrance concert for the Royal British Legion at the Pier Pavilion, Worthing, and gave many more local concerts to raise funds for the Royal Marsden Hospital.

“Bill and I also played for a Flag Day at Croydon shopping centre for three hours, raising more than £2,300 for the Royal Marsden. We also auditioned to play for all WIs in Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Kent, and played every year for the Royal Navy’s annual celebration of Robert Burns’ birthday.

“I still enjoy playing my solos. It makes me feel very happy to be able to play still.”

Two in Accord also played their duet music at weddings, church lunchtime concerts, fetes and events at he English Martyrs Church, where they also practised all those years.