Benefice of Holy Innocents, Great Barton and St Peter's, Thurston

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A New Face in The Benefice

27 May 2019

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fullsizeoutput 3cabA New Face

Those of you who regularly read this magazine or attend services at the church will probably have spotted a new face in the choir stalls recently and also adverts in our newsletter for new members to join our well established and enthusiastic benefice choir.

My arrival and subsequent appointment as choir leader has happened very fast and may have left many of you wondering who I am and where have I suddenly appeared from!

I have recently moved back into the area after a 15-year absence. I trained as riding instructor locally in Hepworth and went on to run a riding school first in Thurston and then moving it to Bardwell to larger premises. That business is still running today and it is there that I have returned after living and running various equine businesses in Cambridgeshire and Essex.

I am a Suffolk girl having grown up in Felixstowe. My parents were very active in the local church, St Johns, and from a young age my life revolved around church. We attended church every week and all my friends did too with their families. My social life was also based around the church with brownies, guides, youth club etc. But as I became a teenager I began to get friends who didn’t go to church and I was often invited to events on a Sunday which I wasn’t allowed to do as my parents were strict about church attendance every Sunday. I began to resent church and became very difficult (according to my parents!).

Then something happened that has probably influenced the course of my life more than any other event. The church announced that it was letting girls join the choir for the first time (it had always been a boys/men only choir). I wasn’t initially interested but then I was told that the choristers were paid for singing at services and, as a teenager with little resources thatdid interest me!

I quickly worked out that as I was been forced to attend church anyway by my parents, I might as well join the choir and get paid to do so! I hadn’t sung but played piano and guitar so read music, which was enough to get me accepted in on a probationary basis.

Much to my parent’s relief, and amusement! I loved the choir and very soon was singing in three services every Sunday as well as weddings on Saturdays and two rehearsals a week! I remained in the choir for 8 years until I left Felixstowe to train as a riding instructor and during that time I passed all the RSCM chorister exams and became one of the first girls to pass the bishops chorister award. At the time I didn’t realize what a high calibre of choir St. John’s was but over the years I have realized that I received a very high standard of choral training for which I will forever be grateful.

One of the great things about being in a church choir is that wherever you go in the country, there will always be a church choir (and church community) waiting to welcome you into its ranks. I have moved around a fair bit over the years and have always enjoyed singing with different choirs and learning new skills from them.

Whilst living in Cambridgeshire and Essex, I both sang in and directed several church choirs. I have also sung in various secular choirs and undertaken solo work for several choral societies. But my first love will always be the church choir!

I directed a benefice choir in Essex very similar to this one for 7 years and together we grew from 9 members to 25. The members (age range 30 – 85) have also trained and successfully passed several RSCM exams, which has improved standardsenormously.

I now hope to do the same in this benefice and hopefully pass on some of the skills I was fortunate to learn as a churchchorister to many more people. So if you have sung in a choir or maybe have always wanted to but not dared, come and giveus a try! It is free, with all music supplied too and I guarantee you will learn new skills, make new friends and have a lot of fun along the way just like I have been for almost 40 years!

Ali Wakelin.

aliwakelin@aliwakelin.co.uk 07717 125743.