Log In

Reset Password

Melody maker

First Prev 1 2 3 4 5 Next Last
Dressed to thrill: John Dale dresses as an 1860s Royal Naval Engineer when giving historic walking tours of Dockyard

John Dale’s deep voice can bring a room to a standstill — he loves to sing.

The retired Bermuda police inspector just stood up in a pub one day and started belting out popular tunes.

“People did things like that in those days,” said the 67-year-old, who was born in Lancashire, England. “I can’t say what caused it. Nobody else in my family sang.”

Although he insists he’s no singing star, he’s often asked to perform at weddings and funerals.

This month he sang at the Friends of Hospice tea.

“Singing is something that gets better with age,” he said. “I think God has given me a gift, so I like to use it to bring joy to people when I can.”

He sang with the police choir during Queen Elizabeth II’s 1977 visit here.

“Afterward we were milling around at Government House and the Queen said to me: ‘I think you sang beautifully’. I was thrilled but I didn’t know if she meant me or the choir.”

He thinks he might have done more with his talent when he was younger.

“But I loved my career as a police officer,” he said.

Mr Dale and his five siblings grew up in Salford. His father, William, was a policeman and his mother, Annie, was a homemaker.

He became a police cadet at 16.

“The instructor was a former Royal Marine who was demobbed to work for the police,” said Mr Dale. “We had to march for at least an hour every day. I loved it.”

When he started officers didn’t collect DNA evidence, there were no computers and only basic radio communication.

“We solved crimes through good hard slog,” he said. “The police’s relationship with the community was critical. It still is.”

In 1973, after seven years working in Lancashire, he seized a chance to come and work on the island.

“Bermuda was beautiful,” he said. “I was 23 years old. I like to say I grew up here.”

Things were much quieter on the island then. Murders were rare and gang violence virtually unheard of.

Mr Dale continued singing in bars and pubs in his spare time. He met his wife Betty at the Rams Head, a bar that once ran in Hamilton.

“I was there with a colleague and she was there with her friend,” he said. “I think I was the luckiest man in Bermuda. I’d just caught her coming back from England.”

After dating for four years, they were married on June 13, 1981.

Mr Dale spent 38 years as an officer. He was a parish constable, ran the police cadet school and was honorary aide-de-camp to governors Lord Waddington and Thorold Masefield.

“Normally the Bermuda Regiment provides a captain to be the aide-de-camp but if they can’t, the police provide an honorary inspector,” he said. “That’s how I happened to get the post. It was a tremendous experience.”

When he retired in 2004, he was doing internal investigations into police complaints and had several commendations under his belt.

“I loved being in the police,” he said. “I didn’t want to retire, but I had to, because I was 55. I think I’m most proud just to have served.”

He took the opportunity of retirement to tour First and Second World War battlefields for several weeks.

Today he’s an active Freemason and is public relations officer for the Freemasons Fund of Bermuda.

“Since its inception in 1981, we’ve given away nearly $300,000 to Bermuda charities,” he said.

He is also a certified tourism ambassador and loves wearing the gold pin on his collar. In the tourist season he gives historic tours of the Royal Naval Dockyard.

“When a visitor sees someone wearing the pin they know they are the person who can help them,” he said. “Visitors come up to me quite regularly. I dress up as a Royal Naval engineer from 1863. I do it with Margot Cox and Charles Jeffers. It’s a lot of fun.”

He is also a Eucharistic minister at St John’s Church in Pembroke.

He and his wife Betty have two sons, Alexander and Adrian, and two grandchildren.

•* Lifestyle profiles senior citizens in the community every Tuesday. To suggest an outstanding senior contact Jessie Moniz Hardy: 278-0150 or jmhardy@royalgazette.com. Have on hand the senior’s full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them.

John Dale as aide-de-camp to Governor Thorold Masefield in 1997 (Photograph supplied)
A lifetime’s service: John Dale in uniform
Love’s young dream: John Dale and wife Betty on their wedding day in 1981
On duty: John Dale, front, with the Bermuda police cadets