Rita, from Wrockwardine Wood, provided the piano accompaniment for the GKN Sankey Male Voice Choir from 1962 until she retired from the role in December 2013, along the way helping the choir to many musical accolades, fundraising concerts and social events. She had also served as the conductor of the choir, which after 65 years as a works choir was renamed Shropshire Male Chorus in 2007.
But that was far from her only gift to Shropshire’s rich musical heritage as the pianist helped train many a young person and after more than 50 radio broadcasts she had become a popular face in the county.
She had been playing piano since the age of 10 and was also a member of Shrewsbury Operatic Society. Rita also studied singing and received voice training at the Birmingham School of Music and was a pianist for the Oakengates Girls’ Choir.
Speaking at the time of her retirement from the GKN choir she said: “I have lots of good memories with the choir. I remember one time we won two festivals in one day. In the morning, we won one in Wolverhampton and then in the evening we won another one in Kerry, in Wales.”
Other musical ventures included The Windsor Singers, which was a small, mixed choir and provided entertainment at weddings, concerts and other events, and also the St Georges-based Morningside Ladies Choir, which went under various names over the years, starting out as a mixed voice choir, before becoming a youth choir during the war, then a girls’ choir and finally a ladies’ choir.
Her contribution to the local music scene was recognised when in 2003 she was a finalist in the Star Woman of the Year competition.
The widow of George, her maiden name was Lowe. She is survived by daughters Cathy Parham and Karen Colton, and three grandchildren.
The funeral has been held at Holy Trinity Church, Wrockwardine Wood.