Shropshire choir brings neighbours together in Christmas song
A south Shropshire choir is drawing on old traditions to bring a community together, as it harks back to the pre-Victorian era of song.
Castle Carols, based in Bishop's Castle, was set up last year by folk legend John Kirkpatrick so that people across south Shropshire could join together for a weekly practice in the winter, culminating in their big sing on Boxing Day.
The group was also formed by Trevor Hedges, who said the whole idea of the choir is to just get people singing, standing next to friends and neighbours, singing joyful, uplifting songs.
"There is a tradition up in the north of the country, around Sheffield, of singing traditional folk carols that were sung in churches more than100 years ago," Trevor said.
"When the Victorian era came in, they changed the way music was heard and sung. The songs were taken out of the church and into the pubs but there is still a big tradition surrounding the carols, especially around Christmas.
"A distinguished musician, John Kirkpatrick, wanted to do a Sheffield carols thing down here in south Shropshire. Our paths crossed and we decided to get the group off the ground."
Trevor said around 60 people turn up each week in the winter, when they practice, and there are smiles all round.
He said: "People will have a songbook in one hand and a pint in the other. It culminates on boxing day with around 200 people in the room.
"All songs that we sing are downloadable and this is how people learn them, by listening to them over and over again, which is the tradition. It seems to be working really well. We are able to protect the idea of learning the songs by ear.
"We have had lots of feedback from people saying they feel so much joy to be in a community where people do things like this. It is just wonderful.
"People who have never sung before can come down - they are there for a couple of hours and have big smiles, then go to the pub for a drink together.
"By working together they make a wonderful sound – these old carols are so beautiful."