Singer Carol Decker really did push her dreams on Shrewsbury College’s art course

Shrewsbury Colleges Group has welcomed one of its most well-known past student to its alumni, a music star who lives and studied in the town in the 1980s and wrote her biggest hit which topped the charts for 5 weeks 30 years ago this month!

Carol Decker, lead singer with the band T’Pau, studied the Foundation Art Course at the Wakeman School of Art in 1979, just before the course and facilities were moved to the London Road site.

Carol, originally from Liverpool, lived all over Shropshire, including Wellington, Ironbridge, Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury, where she went to College when she was 22. It was during this time that she met Ronnie, who was to become her partner and the other founding member of the hit band T’Pau.

Carol said her parents, a singer and a pianist, loved the fact she decided to attend art college following her stint at Wellington School for girls and they encouraged her to follow her passions. It was on the course that she met many like-minded artists.

“Quite a few musicians were doing the courses, although music wasn’t a part of it, I mixed with graphics, fine art and photography students,” she said.

“It was a very eclectic mix of artistic people and we always had the radio on while we worked and were always harmonising. I knew I could sing as people had told me, but the other students would say ‘Carol, why don’t you stop annoying us all and join a band?!’

“It never occurred to me that I could make a career from singing, but they were serious and they invited me to a party where I met Julian Ward and he wanted me to audition for his band.”

Around this time Carol also met Ronnie Rogers, who was also in the local band The Lazers – just before T’Pau was formed.

“We lived in a flat above the Pengwern Rowing Club and it’s where all our hit records were written. We used to rehearse there and there were no neighbours so it was great.”

The rowing club is where China in Your Hand was written and this month marks the 30th anniversary of the song’s release, which held the No 1 top spot in the British Charts for 5 weeks. This month, Carol and Ronnie, who have reformed the band are embarking on a special set of live shows, starting off by coming back to Shrewsbury, where it all began for a gig at The Buttermarket on 17 November.

The band stopped George Harrison from getting to number one in the singles chart with 'Got My Mind Set On You' and they also kept Paul McCartney off the top spot in the albums chart with 'All The Best' as 'Bridge of Spies' was number one in the Album Charts for a week when 'China' was number one in the singles chart.

Carol has recently become an alumni of Shrewsbury Colleges Group and said her time on the course definitely helped her with her future aspirations.

“I felt so lucky to be doing the course,” she said. “I had kind of drifted before that and was 22 when I started the course, so I guess I was a mature student. But my parents really supported me and I remember really enjoying the chance to be creative and spend time with so many likeminded people who essentially encouraged me to continue to be creative, which got me where I am today!”

Art Teacher Ed Catley, said: “Our Foundation Art started at the English Bridge campus and moved to London Road in the early 1980s. The artist Peter Edwards attended the Foundation in 1975 at English Bridge, so did the artist Geoff Hands in 1976.

“Our art school can trace its history back to 1855. It was originally located at College Hill and moved to the Wakeman Building when the building opened. We still offer the popular Foundation Art Diploma which has continued ever since without interruption.”

If you are a past student, the College would love to hear from you. You can join our alumni by visiting www.shrewsbury.ac.uk/friends or www.ssfc.ac.uk/Alumni

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