Telford community choir 'stronger than ever' after facing 'immense challenges' during pandemic

The musical director of a community choir in Telford has spoken of the immense challenges it faced during the pandemic but says it is now "stronger than ever".

The Darby Singers at The Place Theatre in March 2020
The Darby Singers at The Place Theatre in March 2020

The Darby Singers has been running for more than 20 years but the group, which has dozens of members, faced its biggest hurdle yet following the coronavirus outbreak.

Normally, members would have been singing at weddings, concerts and other functions and events around the area.

But musical director Lorna Parkhouse says the choir had to be "incredibly inventive and creative" to find as many Covid-safe ways of connecting and singing as possible over the last 18 months.

Despite this, she said it had managed to "pull through, stick together and come through stronger than ever".

"We are one of the only true local community choirs serving the area," said Lorna.

Musical director Lorna Parkhouse

"The choir exists purely to serve the local community; it is incredibly affordable and has inclusivity at its heart, open to all with no audition or financial barriers.

"During the pandemic we quickly moved rehearsals online and have managed to hold a total of 42 Zoom rehearsals, which in itself is challenging as a singer as you are purely singing to a screen unable to hear each other."

The group managed to hold two live indoor rehearsals in the large auditorium at Haberdashers' Abraham Darby in October last year, before the government changed the Covid rules again and meet-ups resumed online.

Lorna said: "In Spring 2021 we held three garden rehearsals containing six live singers in a couple of gardens, beamed to other single houses all using Zoom again, and then moved for the summer term into an equestrian centre for another eight rehearsals.

"We have been incredibly inventive and creative to find as many Covid-safe ways of connecting and singing as possible over the last 18 months.

"This has been alongside a number of online themed musical evenings.

"We have held coffee mornings regularly to support our lonely and vulnerable members and occasionally, when it has been safe and legal to do so, have met up for a picnic in a local park.

"All in all, the choir has been an invaluable form of support for our members, many of whom have been alone, have lost partners and loved ones during this incredibly challenging time, and have openly said that if it hadn't been for the choir they don't know how they would have coped.

"Our members have bonded closer than ever and are coming through the pandemic stronger than ever."

The Darby Singers was formed in September 1998 by Bernard Crawforth, a former deputy head of the Abraham Darby School in Madeley.

The group has also helped to raise lots of money for local charities over the years.

The choir will shortly be resuming rehearsals at Haberdashers' Abraham Darby.

New members are welcome to join.

For more information on the choir visit darbysingers.co.uk or call Julie West, secretary of The Darby Singers, on 01952 676075.

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