Shropshire Star

'The music unites us': Eurovision legend Dana on the buzz of tonight's final and Choir Camp

It's Eurovision time – and a legendary winner of yesteryear is relishing the spirit of this year's competition while getting ready for a special event on our doorstep.

Eurovision legend Dana

Victor in 1970 with the now-classic All Kinds of Everything, Dana was Ireland's first Eurovision champion, and went on to enjoy a prolific pop career as well as time in the European Parliament.

Though her career has featured many highlights – including performing for two Popes – she remains first and foremost a Eurovision alumnus, and is delighted at the excitement surrounding tonight's final in Liverpool.

The star herself has been in the city to enjoy the furore this week, and said the atmosphere has compared to that back in Ireland after her victory.

"The celebrations around the country and the lift that it gave us when I won – I felt that kind of happiness and that kind of joy when we came through Liverpool," she said.

"And all the volunteers, the terrific volunteers, first of all meeting us as we came off the plane, they're so happy. And then at the railway station we had the same thing. It's a celebration."

When asked about Eurovision's enduring popularity, Dana's explanation was simple.

"The music unites us," she said. "It speaks multi-languages and it crosses every border. That's what happens with Eurovision. People don't care what political party you are or what nationality you are, they're all united in their love of the music."

Championing said love of music in Shropshire's backyard, Dana will be the guest of honour at Choir Camp, held at Dunfield House at Kington, near Leominster, from June 2-4.

Organised annually by choirmaster Matthew Jones – self-proclaimed 'Patron Saint of the Tone-deaf' – the event invites singers of all abilities to a weekend of making music, friends, and memories.

Matthew Jones in action

Matthew believes anybody can learn to sing, and recently trained complete beginners to back Madeline Bell and the world-renowned English Chamber Orchestra at London’s Cadogan Hall to rave reviews.

Following in the footsteps of previous special guests Russell Thompkins Jr. and Sheila Ferguson, Dana will front the choir.

"I really am looking forward to it," she said. "I've never done anything like this before and I think it's so unique.

"There have been some very famous names that have gone before me, including Kiki Dee. I love the idea of it because for me, I like meeting people, and you don't often get the chance to have that kind of a situation.

"I started my career as an amateur singer. I was still at school, I'd sung in school choirs and church choirs. I know the benefits of a choir – you're not exposed, you can gain confidence. If I meet young people who want to be singers, the first thing I advise them to do is join a choir. This is for all age groups, and you form friendships in that kind of situation that are lasting. It just sounds absolutely delightful."

Dunfield House

Keen for anyone interested to sign up, Matthew is excited to put all attendees through their paces and amaze them at what they can do.

"This is our fifth Choir Camp," he said. "It's effectively a singing weekend and you have the chance to sing feet away from a singer you've perhaps grown up listening to. I don't know of anything else quite like it. There are plenty of singing weekends, but this is a singing weekend with a difference.

"I truly believe anybody can learn to sing - 95 per cent of people can naturally sing in tune and the other five per cent can be taught to do that.

"People come along because they want to be surprised by what their voice can do. I work the choir members hard, but by the end of the weekend we create the most amazing sound. Everybody is welcome – it's a great weekend and it's great fun."

"Matthew Jones is a wonderful choir master," added Dana. "He doesn't do it half-heartedly. He has done this before and he knows that by the time he's finished they're going to sound like a professional choir.

"And it doesn't matter what level they're at, or what their ability is, they are going to love every minute of it. If ever you wanted to sing with a Eurovision winner, this is your chance."

Those interested in taking part in Choir Camp can call 01922 915230 or email