Introducing the Poulton People’s Choir

Poulton People's Choir

Poulton People's Choir - Credit: Archant

The Poulton People’s Choir not only makes lovely music, it also boosts health. Emma Mayoh reports.

Poulton town centre

Poulton town centre - Credit: Archant

When Tony Brindle-Wills put out a call for singers he started to get worried. Just minutes before the first rehearsal of Poulton People’s Choir was about to start, there was only him and one gentleman who confessed he couldn’t sing a note. But then everything changed.

‘There was one minute until our rehearsal and I thought it just wasn’t going to happen,’ said Tony, who founded the choir five years ago. ‘Then I looked out onto the car park and person after person started walking towards the door.

‘We ended up with 48. After that numbers just kept going up. It’s been an incredible experience and we have a great group of people.

Tony decided to form Poulton People’s Choir as a 100-strong group that would perform as a one-off at the Poulton Christmas lights switch-on. But when members discovered the choir was not intended to continue after the first event there was uproar – it had to continue.

Poulton War Memorial and St Chad's Church in Poulton town centre

Poulton War Memorial and St Chad's Church in Poulton town centre - Credit: Archant

Its success has only grown. There are 120 members aged 18 –90 who regularly get together to rehearse and perform at numerous events including Christmas concerts, weddings and the choir also hosts an annual choir festival in Blackpool’s Stanley Park. Many of the members join without prior knowledge or experience of group singing but go on to build their confidence and musical understanding with the support of others in the group.

But the reach of Poulton People’s Choir goes beyond providing friendships. It also gives support to isolated members of the community and those struggling with different conditions. The choir provides friendship for one couple, one of whom has dementia, and another young member who has battled depression and anxiety through singing in the choir.

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‘There are a number of health related benefits to group singing,’ said Tony. ‘And this choir promotes this aspect of it. Not only do people get a good cardiovascular workout but taking part can also lead to a positive sense of wellbeing. It combats social isolation and provides a sense of purpose as well as promoting a new skill. One member, whose wife has dementia, said being able to meet up with friends at the choir is a real lifesaver for him and his wife also gets enjoyment from it.’

The success of Poulton People’s Choir is testament to the commitment and passion of the community. They are one of many groups putting Poulton on the map. Another is the volunteers working to reinstate Vicarage Park Community Centre.

Members of Poulton Photographic Society; Tom Richardson, Eddie Garside (Chairman), Peter Guy, Christ

Members of Poulton Photographic Society; Tom Richardson, Eddie Garside (Chairman), Peter Guy, Christine Storey and Alan Storey - Credit: Archant

The building, a much-loved Arts and Crafts style building, had been in continuous use since it first opened and was the focus for a wide variety of community activities. The disused building, formerly the St Chad’s Church Hall dating back to 1925, was declared unsafe and it was earmarked for demolition to make way for new homes.

But locals petitioned to save the hall, which has been closed for three years. It is now the task of the community centre group to raise the £300,000 needed to do the repairs to get the building open again. Several events have been held to fund raise including a special Celebration Day and a Buy a Brick campaign. Once reopened the centre will be available for all members of the community to use and it will give amateur dramatics group, The Chaddeans, their home back.

Alastair Thomas, chairman, said: ‘We don’t underestimate what a tall mountain we have to scale but we are confident that with the backing of the local community, sponsorship from local businesses and capital grant funding, that we will reach our target of £300,000 and be in a position to refurbish and reopen the hall within the next two to three years.

‘We need people’s support so that we can bring back life and love to the hall with community services for the old and young, energetic and infirm, those who want entertaining, educating, social interaction, to celebrate, commemorate and more.’

Members of Vicarage Park Community Centre

Members of Vicarage Park Community Centre - Credit: Archant

Poulton Photographic Society are a group of talented people putting the town in the frame. The club, which marks its 50th anniversary this year, was formed following the 1966 Poulton Festival Week celebrations by Ted Gray and Roger Goodwill, both lecturers in photography at Blackpool College as well as Baron Woods and Jake Loddington.

The Club rapidly established its reputation in the Lancashire & Cheshire Photographic Union, and it won the Tansley Memorial Shield for black and white photography in only its second year of membership. Many of its members enter national and international competitions. Last year, Poulton achieved second place in an international nature photography competition against almost 100 clubs from around the world. Members have also travelled the world in pursuit of the perfect picture.

‘We have very talented photographers in the society and it’s a great group,’ said Eddie Garside, chairman. ‘We can all help each other and inspire each other and we all have a lot of fun.

‘We have a competition each year as part of Poulton Festival and it’s really encouraging to see how the community support us. We’re really proud and enjoy what we do.’