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Posted by on January 17, 2018

Polly’s singing news 2016-18


As my daughter and her partner have moved back here and she is using Oak Barn as her workshop and office for her new venture, Damson and Vine organic cut flowers, so it’s time to look back over the last two years or so of singing here and around the area. We won’t be using the barn for singing events and 2017 was the last singing camp here, and so after 18 years of singing and many other lovely events, we move back to gardening.

I’ll be focusing on my two lovely choirs and helping my daughter grow flowers and also volunteering at two local museums, Ludlow and Tenbury. I worked for a year in Warwick Museum in the 1970’s and have always loved museums so it’s great to get back into that work again after years of having very little spare time.

Tenbury Library Choir (TLC)
In November 2016 we celebrated 5 years of singing together with a pub meal and a superb cake made by Lisa, much jollity and some “turns”. We rang up librarian, Sally who started the choir off by approaching me over 6 years ago, and sang to her answer phone! Sally moved away a couple of years ago but she is still loved by all of us.
As usual the choir performed a summer concert and raised funds for the British Parkinson’s Association and the Methodist Church and we sang at Christmas in the library. A big thank you to everyone in the choir for being so much fun, for singing so beautifully and being part of a cheery way to start the week.
In 2017 we again did a concert in the Methodist Church to an audience, mainly of family and friends and the usual superb buffet afterwards. Big thanks to the Tenbury Wells Methodist Church who are always very supportive of singing events. This year we have decided to forego a concert and instead sing at a local village fete somewhere in the area and eat cake and have fun!

Ludlow Larks
Larks is 20 this year! In April 2016 we had our 18th birthday party in Ludlow with huge amounts of food at the Blue Boar, a Larks quiz and some singing (of course). We performed our annual concert in July at the Methodist Church together with the hilarious “Men from Off”, from Bishop’s Castle, to raise funds for the Mahaque Well Fund, now on its sixth well! As usual the choir performed a cracking concert and just sound better and better each year.
This year’s concert in July was also really beautiful and much enjoyed by everyone. The choir surprised me by presenting me with a lovely huge bouquet made by my daughter!
For our Christmas treat for the last two years we have sung at Stanton Lacy church with mulled wine, shared goodies to eat, both in the beautiful church and the churchyard decorated with lights and candles in the trees.
Thank you Mike and Else for organising such special evenings.

Marches World Music Choir
This small choir of about 12 of us, which met monthly is currently having a break. We sang together for over a year, trying more challenging songs. It has been great to try out all manner of songs and singing styles and we may be back!

Singing the Gorge
For the last four years I have been asked to lead a singing tour around the World Heritage Site of the Ironbridge Gorge. About 14 of us are driven in a minibus by Cadi of the Severn Gorge Countryside Trust to various places in this fantastic landscape. In 2016 we sang at Blist’s Hill in the Squatters cottage and iron tabernacle, at the site of the old foundry, on the Iron bridge, along Sabbath walk to the Rotunda and of course in the bottle kilns of Coalport china Museum with their amazing resonance. It really is a lovely day and am pleased to say it was fully booked again in 2017 and we wassailed the Damson orchard, sang at the Quaker burial ground, under arches, in the community orchard and sang in those amazing Coalport bottle kilns again. This year we had Cadi of the Severn Gorge Countryside Trust and Kate, the Curator of the Coalport China Museum to give lots of information about this World heritage Site. Ironbridge Gorge in May has got to be one of my favourite places

This year I’ve been asked again and will be sorting out some new sites to sing in the Gorge as well as some old favourite places. It’s a great opportunity to honour with song all the working men, women and children who toiled in the foundries for so many centuries.

Ludlow Big Sing June 2017 Ludlow Fringe Festival
Back again for the third year as it’s so much fun. We were blessed with a scorching hot dry day, very different from last year. Last year we had to keep scurrying for cover to avoid torrential rain which gave rise to several impromptu rain themed sing alongs! (Despite these delays all 6 choirs managed to swivel around Ludlow town centre and avoid being in the same place as another choir.) We sang our two joint songs in the market place first and later assembled for tea and cake in the Womens Centre and each choir sang a song so we could at last hear each other!
Huge thanks to Bella Acapella, Ludlow Male Voice choir, Ludlow choral society, Lydbury North and Cleobury Mortimer choirs, Brown Clee Choir and of course TLC and Larks.

I’ve decided to take a break from organising the Big Sing but hope someone else will carry it on

Singing picnic at Wistanstow July 2016 and 2017
This has become a singing fixture in Shropshire. Organised by Mary Keith who runs the Mere singers in Shrewsbury, it is a chance to meet up with community choir members from a wide area and enjoy a sing and huge communal picnic. Choir leaders are invited to teach songs to the group and we can have up to a hundred voices,
singing away. The picnic break is a time to lounge in the sun and chat or snooze or play games which involve various degrees of energy! In 2018 the picnic will take place on Sunday July 15th 2pm till 6pm with food to share.

Singing Camp at Oak Barn
For the eighteenth year about 40 of us gathered here in Clee St Margaret for our annual singing weekend. Sue Harris and Ros Thomas joined me in teaching songs at the village hall and Sue once again led a singing walk up on to Nordy Bank Iron Age hill fort. A sing off soon developed! Shared food on Friday evening,Tahira’s Saturday night supper and Sue’s son’s superb lunches meant we had a weekend of food, fun and singing once again. I have so enjoyed these weekends and made many friends along the way.
Our last singing camp here in July 2017 was absolutely wonderful. Such great singing! We were denied our camp fire on Saturday night by a downpour but partied on in the barn. We will not hold the camp here again but move to another exciting site to carry on the fun!

The singing camp has moved to a great new site at Newcastle on Clun, near Offa’s Dyke. Sue, Ros and I will once again be leading the singing sessions and it promises to be a fantastic weekend.

Church Crawl October 2016
Our last weekend church crawl here was wonderful. We visited and sang in some lovely churches in Mortimer Country, including Leinthall Starkes, Leinthall Earls and Wigmore. I shall miss this event very much but there are plans afoot to move the event to Kinnersley Castle and explore the churches in that area. There are also plans to have day gathering in churches now and again.

“The Tiara is in the ditch”
This is the working title for another song-poem performance piece focusing on the remarkable lives of three women gardeners; Ellen Willmott, Gertrude Jeckyll and Hilda Murrall. Still sitting in my brain rather than on paper, but I hope to convene the old choir from “Out of the Land our Stories are Born” to perform once again. Lots of songs about flowers and gardens to choose from and I hope to do the rehearsal CD soon and have asked others to help me choose the poems and prose written by Victorian and Edwardian women. Still an on going project but the ideas are swirling in my head!


If you fancy trying out the church music of the 18th and 19th centuries, known as West Gallery music, do come along to one of our monthly sessions in Bishop’s Castle. We meet at 2pm on the 4th Sunday of the month. Singers and instruments very welcome. For details google Shropshire Harmony Quire.


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