Many people who have met Roy Tankersley during the past decade and a half probably assume he lives in Whanganui.

He doesn't - he lives in Palmerston North and has been driving back and forth to direct the Schola Sacra Choir since 2004.

He is retiring from the role this year and the choir will be under his baton for the last time when they present their Sing Noel from Pole to Pole annual feast of carols and readings at Christ Church on Saturday December 8.

"The right person has come to live in Whanganui and I will be leaving the choir in good hands," says Tankersley.


"Iain Tetley is a very fine tenor who also happens to be a conductor and he is moving to Whanganui."

Tankersley said he has thoroughly enjoyed his 14 years directing the Schola Sacra Choir and has some great memories.

Sharing memorable meals as well as concerts in Whanganui, the establishment of the youth chorus eight years ago, performing at the Sarjeant Gallery and celebrating the choir's 40th anniversary in 2014 have been special highlights for him.

"The choir committee is fantastic and the people have a wonderful mindset about arts participation in this community."

The travelling has been the downside at times and he has been making about 80 trips a year.

"There was one time when I made seven trips within eight days and that was a bit gruelling.

"When the weather was bad I would get warnings to travel safely from both sides of the journey and I would call my wife to put the spa on so I could sink straight into it when I got home."

An organist and harpsichordist, Tankersley has also been a musical educator at secondary and tertiary levels as well as a builder and repairer of organs.


He has also built a WOOFYT (Wooden One Octave Organ For Young Technologists) and there will be trips to Whanganui next year to show young people how to play it.

Tankersley will introduce his successor to the audience at the Sing Noel concert next week and Tetley will perform as a guest singer on the programme.

"I will hand the baton to him to conduct the last item," says Tankersley.

Schola Sacra Choir: Sing Noel from Pole to Pole, Saturday December 8 at 2.30pm, Christ Church, Wicksteed St. Adults $20, seniors $15, children 18 years and under free. Book at Royal Wanganui Opera House 06 349 051.