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    1. Vernon – What a coincidence!

    2. Debbie – Joining the English Choir

“What a coincidence” by Vernon Pearce

Joining a choir is not just about singing – it’s a pleasant social activity as well. This was brought home to me well and truly when I joined the International Choir last summer, having previously sung with the Costa Blanca Male Voice Choir.

I was immediately impressed with the mix of both men and women and the different sound that our joint voices created. However, nothing prepared me for what was to happen at the social gathering at the end of the first rehearsal I attended. I was sitting with my new friends around the table in the local bar with an empty chair alongside me, which was soon taken by a member of the bass section, who introduced himself as Andy White.

Our conversation inevitably covered our experiences on retiring to Spain and when we began to talk about wine, Andy mentioned that he used to give talks on the subject back in the UK. I enquired where that had been and he told me it was in Portsmouth, where he had spent several years as a head teacher. I told him this was a coincidence, as I was originally from Southampton – just 20 miles away along the coast. This information was to unleash a whole series of coincidences to be revealed in the next 30 minutes and which have continued in the months that have followed. We have never met before despite the following – Andy and I grew up in adjoining suburbs of the city of Southampton, just a few miles apart – my family home was in Bitterne and Andy’s was in Woolston.

Our fathers both originally worked in the Supermarine factory in Woolston making Spitfire aircraft during WW2. They both later left Supermarine and joined Follands in Hamble, making the Gnat aircraft, which was to be used by the famous Red Arrows. Both of them had the same trade as Sheet Metal Workers. My father passed away in 2020 as one of the last surviving Spitfire-makers, so I’m unable to discover if they knew each other.

Andy and I both attended Taunton’s Grammar School – a year apart but we never met or knew of each other’s existence. The school had 600 plus pupils and Andy was in the year behind me. We were both in the same ‘house’, of which there were 4…….so a 25% chance.
There was once a fire on the common opposite the school and Andy recently revealed that he was responsible for this and for which he received a 2 week suspension!

I recently discovered an old photo of me appearing in a Gilbert and Sullivan opera at the school and sent a copy to Andy, who revealed he had also taken part in the production and was in the same photo, confirmed by an old copy of the programme! See photo of the cast of Princess Ida on stage – I am kneeling in the front row and Andy is behind, the only person not looking at the camera! We could not have been closer all those 60 years ago.

After leaving school our careers went in opposite directions with Andy becoming a teacher and me, after a false start in the Civil Service due to bad careers advice at school, spending the major part of my working life in shipping and logistics…….and we met 60 years later in Spain!

This amazing story of coincidences will surely be continued as we catch up on our lives – cue spooky music!

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Joining the English Choir by Debbie Mason

Before I came to live in Spain last April, I sang in a few choirs back in the UK. The last choir I was a member of was not dissimilar to The English Choir and I enjoyed it very much, so much so that I would sing all the way home in the car.

I was tearful when I left the choir which was based in the town of Warwick in the West Midlands. I did not think I would find such a lovely crowd to sing with but then I found – The English Choir!

The Warwick choir encouraged all members to welcome new members who were having their first taster session as it can be very daunting walking into a room full of complete strangers. This also happened at The English Choir and they made me feel at home straight away.

I found the rehearsals to be run in a friendly but professional manner by the lovely and extremely competent musical director, John Edwards with the even more lovely Kirsty (sorry John) on the keyboards.

I feel that a choir can be so much more than just a choir to sing with, it can be social group where you can meet each other outside rehearsals. The Warwick choir were very good at organising country walks, skittle evenings, cinema and theatre trips. These were very well attended and also ideal for those living alone.

The English Choir has just voted in our new social secretary the one and only ‘bubbly Bev’ who’s perfect for the role and within days has organised an Indian meal and a trip to a local vineyard. Well done Bev and I’m sure there will be many more to come. I think that these types of events are good to get to know other sections of the choir that you don’t sing by (we sing in four-part harmony), it’s also why I’m a strong believer in having a short break in between rehearsal too. Sometimes when it’s their birthday, a very kind member will bring in Cava and cake during breaktime which obviously goes down very well and whets our vocal cords.

Each Thursday, after rehearsals many of us go to the bar around the corner for the odd glass of vino, free tapa and a catch up.

Even though we are called The English Choir we have many members from other countries who enjoy singing with us. If this has spiked your interest, please feel free to contract us for a taster session or two. We are always looking for new members both male and females whether or not you have sung in a choir before and there are no terrifying auditions to go through.

To finish off all I can say is singing feeds the soul and I certainly don’t regret joining.

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