Still singing strong

The choir today.
The choir today.

Two decades on and they’re still in fine voice.

Twenty years ago, a choir got together for a one-off performance at St Mary’s Church in Eccleston to help celebrate its 900th anniversary.

The choir – The Good News Singers – was formed from the three churches and anyone else in Eccleston that wanted to join. It took its name from the piece of music it sang, Sing Good News.

It’s still going strong today – and on Sunday celebrated its 20th birthday, once more rolling back the years and performing Sing Good News.

Original choir member Ann Singleton, of Eccleston, said: “After 20 years, you wouldn’t think a choir formed for a one-off performance would be as active and thriving as we are.

“Well, nothing could be further from the truth.

“Over the years, we have sung at so many places with so many different people and we always have fun.

“We have sung from Abba to classical, Christmas hits and Christmas carols with a recorder going around the village to the older people to a brass quartet at the chapel.”

She added: “We have raised more than £30,000 over the years doing two concerts a year and having different charities supported at each one.

“We have sung on Radio 4 Sunday Morning Worship four times – three in Eccleston and once at Blackpool.

“We have sung for Children In Need for a premier performance at the Guild Hall which was on radio and also with a mass choir for another performance at the Guild Hall.

“We have also sung at the Bridgewater Hall with, again, a mass choir, singing a piece, by a local musician, called Ano Domini.

“We have been to Wales, Morecambe, Lancaster, Orrell and been invited to many more places to sing. We have also sang at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Leyland with the Guild Singers in two concerts.

“As a one-off, we have done really well and hope to continue for many years to come. We always welcome new members.”

There from the very start, Susan Guenault and her husband Mark, the organ player, are still the organist and conductor.

The choir has many original members and some of the children that took part in the anniversary concert now have children of their own and are still members.

Another member Ann Worthington, who joined in 1995 after hearing them sing at the church’s 900th celebrations, said: “I was absolutely blown away by the choir and the music they were performing and I just had to join.

“Since then we have performed twice a year at least, not only in Eccleston, but we have been asked to sing at other churches and venues, most notably at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, where we joined other choirs to perform Anno Domini which was written by Mr Raymond Smith, from White Coppice.

“During the time I have been in the choir I lost my husband, very suddenly, and Sue and Mark gave me such support at a very difficult time in my life that I will never forget what they did for me, and indeed the choir helped me to come to terms with my loss.

“We all love Sue and Mark, and their children Rebecca, Christopher and Connor who have performed with us at some stages of their lives when they have been able to do so, and we look forward to many, many more years of Good News.”