Chorister urges choirs across the region to contact MPs to rehearse indoors

An established chorister has urged hundreds of singers from across the West Midlands to contact their MP and stress the importance of allowing organised groups to meet indoors once again.

Simon Whitmore is urging members of his eight choirs throughout the West Midlands to write to their MPs and demand something be done to allow them to rehearse again
Simon Whitmore is urging members of his eight choirs throughout the West Midlands to write to their MPs and demand something be done to allow them to rehearse again

The call to action has come from Simon Whitmore, who orchestrates three choirs in Bridgnorth, two in Stourbridge, two in South Staffordshire and one in Wolverhampton.

Having not rehearsed since March 23 2020, Mr Whitmore said many of his choir members have gone more than a year without their only form of social contact.

The government is due to relax all Covid regulations – which would allow choirs to rehearse indoors – from June 21, but Mr Whitmore added he was "dubious" as to whether this will come to fruition.

Mr Whitmore, 46, from Bridgnorth said: "Whether the relaxation is going to materialise as expected we don't know, especially with this Indian variant of coronavirus.

"I'm worried they'll turn around and say most of these group meetings cannot take place.

Simon Whitmore is urging members of his eight choirs throughout the West Midlands to write to their MPs and demand something be done to allow them to rehearse again

"I'm urging choirs to write to their MPs. It's not just about singing, it's about the community, meeting up with friends, getting out of the house – especially for some of the older ones.

"All their social life has been completely disrupted over the last year."

Currently, up to 30 people can meet outdoors, but rehearsing outside leads to the dissipation of sound, making it hard to hear what everyone is singing, Mr Whitmore said.

He added that the recent wet weather made for an "unpleasant" experience and put equipment such as instruments at risk of damage.

Mr Whitmore orchestrates more than 400 people across the West Midlands, and will be urging them to contact their MPs, Philip Dunne for South Shropshire and Gavin Williamson for South Staffordshire.

"The older ones say they've been vaccinated and they want to get on with their lives," Mr Whitmore said.

"I spoke to an 83-year-old man who told me, 'as soon as you're up and running I'll be there', he wasn't scared or worried.

"The arts need to get back up and running; they're such an important part of people's lives.

"We can't carry on in this mundane way of living without all these things people genuinely depend on.

"For people who live on their own, they come to the choir and that's their social contact for the week.

"For more than a year they've lost this and people need to feel like they belong."

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