29 April 2023

Save your love – and a red rose –
for a romantic dinner in Tamworth

Renato’s has gone from Little Church Lane in Tamworth … and, with it, romantic dinners to the sound of ‘Save Your Love’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

I have been back in Tamworth regularly in recent months, and we passed through Tamworth again twice this week on our way to the ‘Library and Legacy’ exhibition in Lichfield Cathedral … peering out the train window each time between Lichfield and Tamworth for the familiar glimpse of Comberford and Comberford Hall.

Each time I am back in Tamworth, I stop to visit and pray in the Comberford Chapel in the north transept of Saint Editha’s Church and also drop past the Moat House, the former Comberford family home on Lichfield Street, now a pub and restaurant. But over the past year I have also imagined how it would be romantic to have dinner in Renato’s Restaurant on Little Church Lane, close to the north side of Saint Editha’s Church.

For many years, the singer Renato Pagliari wooed diners in his son’s restaurant, singing the Renée and Renato hit from the early 1980s, ‘Save Your Love.’

Perhaps you think a 40-year-old song like that over your pasta or lasagne could be more like treacle than Pinot Grigio – or, more kindly, too sweet a return to Top of the Pops in the 1980s. But I like the idea of a red rose and a romantic dinner to the sound in the background of the lyrics:

Save your love my darling, save your love
For summer nights with moon and stars above
A serenade I long to sing you
The reddest rose I always bring you
Save your love for Roma and for me

Darling I will love you endlessly …
Love like ours will last eternally

Renée and Renato had a Christmas No 1 hit in December 1982 with ‘Save Your Love.’

Renato Pagliari, who lived most of his life in the West Midlands and spent many of his retirement days, and evenings, in Tamworth, was born on 28 June 1940 into a large, impoverished family in Blera, a village outside Rome.

From an early age, Renato had a talent for musical talent and as a boy he joined the local church choir. At 17, he won a place in a school for professional waiters, and there he also learned four languages. He became well-known as a singing waiter, happy to burst out into Neapolitan songs and operatic arias, and restaurateurs soon appreciated his ability to draw in diners.

By the early 1970s, he was working in restaurants in England and entertaining diners in the West Midlands. Delighted customers encouraged him to seek club engagements, and in 1975 he entered a regional heat for the ITV talent show ‘New Faces.’

The songwriter Johnny Edward, who had written the song ‘Save Your Love,’ was watching the show and was impressed with Renato’s tenor voice. Johnny Edward teamed up Renato with the Midlands singer Hilary Lester (now Hilary Gibbon), and the two were renamed Renée and Renato.

After many delays and problems, Renée and Renato recorded ‘Save Your Love’ in 1982, and they entered the charts at No 54 that October. Within weeks, their song became the No 1 hit that Christmas.

A year earlier, in 1981, Renato had recorded his version of ‘Just One Cornetto’ in a celebrated Wall’s ice-cream television commercial. Renato’s son, Remo, denies he had provided the voice-over, and nit-pickers quibbled that while the setting was transformed into Venice, the jingle was adapted from ‘O Sole Mio’, a song written in Naples.

Renée was always at pains to stress that Renée and Renato were never ‘an item.’ She never appeared in the celebrated video, and instead a stand-in took her place.

Their follow-up numbers, ‘Just One More Kiss’ and ‘Jesus Loves Us All,’ had little success. But ‘Save Your Love’ was a big enough hit to launch a number of international tours. After four years, Hilary ‘Renée’ Lester joined another group, and when the fame died down she returned to private life. Renato, on the other hand continued working as a solo singer and found regular spots as a singer on cruise ships. He also recorded six solo albums, and had a regular guest spot on the television comedy show ‘Little and Large.’

Renato was a fan of Aston Villa FC and in the early 1990s he was asked by manager Ron Atkinson to sing Puccini’s ‘Nessun dorma’ at half time following a particularly poor first half performance by the team. When he had finished singing, Ron Atkinson told the players, ‘Now that is passion! Go and show me some of that in the second half!’ Aston Villa went on to win that year's League Cup.

Atkinson later boasted that only Luciano Pavarotti could sing ‘Nessun Dorma’ better than Renato.

In his last few years, Renato had regular singing appearances at the now-closed Renato’s Italian Ristorante in Little Church Lane, Tamworth

In his last few years, Renato had regular singing appearances at Renato’s Italian Ristorante in Little Church Lane, Tamworth. Renato’s was run by his son, Remo Pagliari, and claimed to be ‘one of the best Italian restaurants in Tamworth.’

Although Renato was diagnosed with a brain tumour, he could still break into song on the wards during his hospital stays. After battling the tumour for several months, he died at Good Hope Hospital, Sutton Coldfield, on 29 July 2009, aged 69. His funeral took place in Holy Trinity Catholic Church, on Lichfield Road, Sutton Coldfield. Ron Atkinson and singer Tony Christie – and Renée – were among the 700 people at his funeral.

Renato’s Restaurant later become Daquino Cucina Italiana. Under both names it was noted for its Italian cuisine, including seafood pasta, Mediterranean chicken and prawns, tiramisu, ice cream, cheesecake and coffee. Sadly, though, the place closed and the premises are now the Woodshed Burger Co.

But now I’m also wondering whether, in his various restaurant engagements in Tamworth, Renato ever sang in the Moat House too back in the 1980s or 1990s?

Save your love my darling, save your love
For summer nights with moon and stars above
A serenade I long to sing you
The reddest rose I always bring you
Save your love for Roma and for me

Darling I will love you endlessly
Even though you’re far away from me
I can’t forget the words I told you
How it felt to love and hold you
Love like ours will last eternally

Save your love my darling, save your love
For summer nights with moon and stars above
A serenade I long to sing you
The reddest rose I always bring you
Save your love for Roma and for me

Even though it’s been so very long
The memory of our love still lingers on
I can't wait to hold and kiss you
Don't you know how much I miss you
Darling sing for me our lover's song

Salva l’amore cara salva l’amore
Le notte d’estate la luna l’estelle lassu
A serenade I long to sing you
The reddest rose I always bring you
Salva l’amore per Roma e per me

Io ti amo caro, I love you
I can’t wait to hold and kiss you
Don’t you know how much I miss you
Darling sing for me our lover’s song

Save your love my darling save your love
Oh you know that I will
For summer nights with moon and stars above
Oh I love you still
A serenade I long to sing you
The reddest rose I always bring you
Save your love for Roma and for me

Morning prayers in Easter
with USPG: (21) 29 April 2023

Saint Clement’s Cathedral is the cathedral of the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church, near the Charles Bridge in Prague (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

We are still in the season of Easter, and this has been the Third Week of Easter. Today, the Church Calendar commemorates Saint Catherine of Siena, Teacher of the Faith (1380).

Before this day gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for prayer and reflection. Following our visit to Prague earlier this month, I have been reflecting each morning this week in these ways:

1, Short reflections on a church in Prague;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Inside, Saint Clement’s is one of the most beautifully decorated Baroque churches in Prague (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

The Greek Catholic Cathedral of Saint Clement, Prague:

When we were in Prague two weeks ago, I attended the Maundy Thursday liturgy in the Greek Catholic Cathedral Church of Saint Clement, where many people in the congregation were Ukrainian refugees. This church celebrates a Byzantine-rite liturgy that is similar to Orthodox Churches and follows the Orthodox calendar in the dating of Easter. But it is part of a church that is in full communion with the Pope and with the Roman Catholic Church.

Saint Clement’s is the cathedral of the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church in Prague, serving the Ruthenian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Czech Republic. Many of the people who are part of the church are of Ukrainian origin, alongside people with family roots in Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.

Saint Clement’s Church was made a cathedral by Pope John Paul II in 1996 in the Bull Quo aptius which established the Ruthenian Catholic Exarchate of the Czech Republic.

Saint Clement’s is one of three churches at the Clementinum, including Saint Salvator. This single-nave Baroque church was built for the Jesuits in the Clementinum area in 1711-1715 on the site of an older Gothic church, where the Dominicans founded a monastery in 1227.

The earlier chapel was destroyed during the Hussite wars in 1420. The Italian Chapel, or the Chapel of the Virgin, was built above the church of Saint Clement in 1590-1600 to serve the Italian resident community in Prague.

The present Baroque church was commissioned by the Jesuits and was built in 1711-1715 by Anselmo Lurago to plans by the architect Franciscus Maxmilian Kaňka. The simple exterior makes the interior even more outstanding. This is one of the most beautifully decorated Baroque churches in Prague, with work by major Baroque artists.

The interior of this single nave church is richly decorated, with stone statues by Matthias Bernard Braun of the Church Fathers and the Four Evangelists in niches in the walls. The trompe-l’œil High Altar is dominated by a painting of Saint Clement by Josef Kramolín and a painting of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

There are six side altars. At the side altar dedicated to Saint Lawrence and Saint Leonard, a painting by Peter Brandl depicts Saint Leonard healing the sick. Ignaz Raab also contributed to painting the interior, with paintings of Jesuit saints and Bohemian patrons in the alcoves and on the pilasters.

The pulpit is the work of Braun, as are the confessionals under the choir loft and other wood carvings. The decorative stucco work was created by S Götzler in 1715. Johann Hiebl’s original frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Saint Clement have been preserved in individual sections of the vaulting.

The richly decorated pews and colourful are also worth noting, and the church has outstanding acoustics.

The church was given to the Greek Catholic Church in 1931. It belonged to the Orthodox Church in 1950-1969, but since 1969 it has again served the Greek Catholic Church. The original iconostasis was replaced by a new one in 1984.

The liturgy is celebrated in Ukrainian and Church Slavonic.

Maundy Thursday in the Greek Catholic Cathedral Church of Saint Clement in Prague (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

John 6: 60-69 (NRSVA):

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65 And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.’

66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67 So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ 68 Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’

The simple exterior of Saint Clement’s makes the interior even more outstanding (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Today’s Prayer:

The theme this week in the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) has been ‘Praying for Peace.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday by the Anglican Chaplain in Warsaw, Poland, the Revd David Brown, who reflected on peace in the light of the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace earlier this week.

The USPG Prayer invites us to pray this morning (Saturday 29 April 2023):

Let us give thanks for the spirit of community. May we seek to build bonds of trust and friendship within our communities and support one another in good times and bad.


God of compassion,
who gave your servant Catherine of Siena
a wondrous love of the passion of Christ:
grant that your people may be united to him in his majesty
and rejoice for ever in the revelation of his glory;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion:

God of truth,
whose Wisdom set her table
and invited us to eat the bread and drink the wine
of the kingdom:
help us to lay aside all foolishness
and to live and walk in the way of insight,
that we may come with Catherine to the eternal feast of heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Reflections in the windows of Saint Clement’s Cathedral in the Old Town in Prague (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Saint Clement’s has again served the Greek Catholic Church in Prague since 1969 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)