The history of Hyndburn Singers - As told by our Musical Director, Marjorie Barker
The Hyndburn Singers is a local mixed-voice Choir which was founded by Husband & wife team Alan & Cynthia Ashworth in January 1981. In the initial years the Choir rehearsed in the School Room of the Central Methodist Church in Whalley Road Accrington, the site of the present Mearley Vetenary Practice.
When the Central Methodist church was demolished the Choir moved to the Conservative Club in Cannon Street but when the venue closed, it moved to its present base in the School Room of the United Reformed Church just a hundred yards or so up the road form where it started.
Alan Ashworth conducted the choir until 1997 when he handed over the baton to Julie Townson, the then head of Music at St Christopher’s C of E School in Accrington. At the same time, a second Julie, Julie Clarkson joined the Choir as an accompanist, a position which she still holds. Alan maintained his duties becoming president of the Choir. More recently, Councillor Judith Addison has taken over as President. Judith was a keen and active member of the Choir for many years before her work as a Conservative Councillor in Oswaldtwistle and then as Mayor of Hyndburn made it difficult for her to attend regular rehearsals.
After ten years Conductor Julie Townson reluctantly stood down due to pressure of work, was briefly succeeded by Neil shepherd, and then in 2008 by the Choirs’ present Musical director Marjorie Barker. Marjorie had been a member of the Alto section for 27 years. A qualified Teacher, who was Head Of Department teaching Chemistry at Urmston Grammar School for 20 years, she has considerable choral singing experience having worked with over 20 different conductors and having been a member of Choirs as far apart as Kendal & Oldham.
Like Gareth Malone of TV fame, Marjorie believes that most people can sing even though many people don’t think that they can. She is keen to extol the Health benefits of Singing in a choir. Many scientists have studied the effects of singing on the body and there is well documented evidence that singing is much more than a bit of fun. The regular and controlled breathing needed for singing gives pretty much the same effect as Yoga, increasing oxygen in the blood stream and exercising the lungs, heart and major upper body muscles. However, whereas Yoga is often sweaty, tiring and painful, singing never fails to make you feel great! The effects are not just physical, singing releases endorphins which make you feel happier. In a group, Singing obviously allows you to make friends and increase a sense of community, belonging and shared endeavour.
Over the years the Hyndburn Singers have continued to sing an interesting and varied range of music but the choir now concentrates on singing lighter easy-listening songs. The choir has performed for many different types of audiences ranging in venues from church halls through to Accrington’s refurbished market hall to the Town Hall and has sung for several different charitable organisations.
The aim of the choir is simple – to provide musical entertainment to both the audience and the choir members alike. After 30 years the choir is looking to the future. Although there is only one founder member and several almost founder members still singing, many new members have joined us in recent years and we now have over 50 members.
If there is anyone out there who would like to give singing in a choir a try he or she would be most welcome. Previous experience and the ability to read music are obviously a great help but considerable number of our members have come along simply because they wanted to try something different and have managed to make a great success of it with no prior experience.
We rehearse each Tuesday evening, 7:30pm – 9:30pm at a local venue in Accrington
Thank you to members of Hyndburn Chat (Facebook) we now have names for the following members (left to right);
Front row; Emily Kenyon, Doreen Foster, Barbara Young, Dorothy Flannagan, Eva, Alan Ashworth (conductor), Dorothy Nicholls, Beth Tomlinson, Liz Brady, Elaine Benson (pianist), Marjorie Barker.
Second Row; Elizabeth Thompson, Doreen Hornby, Christine Cunliffe, Gladys Kenyon, Lily Pounder, ?, Cynthia Ashworth, Dorothy Redmayne, Alice Thornton, Judith Addison, ?, Marion Makepeace.
Third Row; Tom Young, Alan Langham, Dorothy Wallace, Maureen Brereton, Jean Musk, May Partington, Joan Imms, ?, David Young, Albert Butterworth, Harry?
Back Row; George Singleton, Arthur Suthers, Ernie Birtwistle, Billy Bradley, ?, ?, Dick Harwood, ?, Alan Barker, ?, John Thompson
Accrington Con Club - 1984