One Voice Choir - Singing from the rooftops in Lancashire

A Preston-based community choir reveal the secret of their success in harmony as they celebrate ten years of harmonies

Next time you're slurping up the remainder of the spaghetti in your favourite restaurant, don't be alarmed if the people at the next table stand up and start singing. Chances are, you're sitting next to the One Voice Community Choir.

Choir member Gill Hallam recalls how the Preston-based group went out for a Christmas meal. 'After we'd all finished, we just got up and started singing. Everyone loved it! We always manage to get everyone clapping and dancing.'

The choir's 65 members have been meeting every Wednesday night for ten years to sing their joyful and inspirational gospel music. The group is made up of people from their 20s to late 80s and their enthusiasm and talent has earned them some impressive recognition.

One Voice Choir performs at charity events and weddings and holds workshops and special events across the country. They have been involved in some of the most prestigious events on the Lancashire calendar including the celebration of Preston's city status, where they performed for the Queen, and the concert to celebrate Liverpool's crowning as the European Capital of Culture.

They also recorded songs for The Best Gospel Album in the World...Ever! at Abbey Road Studios in London. Most recently, they beat off national competition to perform for the Queen again at the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth at Westminster Abbey.But this group hasn't become jaded by their success, and even after ten years, the members are just as enthusiastic. Sara Ahmed has been a member since the choir began. 'I look forward to coming every Wednesday night and I always leave in such a good mood, singing away to myself,' she said.

The members, the choir's success is down to musical director Tyndale Thomas. 'It wouldn't be the choir it is if it wasn't for Tyndale,' Sara added. 'He is the choir.'

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Fellow member Celia McDonnell said: 'Sometimes Tyndale gets really excited and starts dancing around. If the audience gets going, then Tyndale does and that means we do. It's so infectious. But it's a good job we know all of our songs so well, because Tyndale never sticks to our list; he'll just suddenly start doing one that wasn't planned.'

Tyndale has been an influential figure in the growth of gospel music in Britain and received an MBE last year in recognition of his work. He set up the choir with lottery funding and planned to run it for a few months, but ten years on the choir is still growing.

Tyndale's love for music started at a young age when he used to play piano, drums, bass and guitar with his seven brothers and sisters. 'We had all the instruments at home, so we just swapped around,' he said.

He went on to co-found the Merrybell Gospel Choir which amalgamated voices from Manchester, London and Birmingham before forming Urban Voice, a choir which ran workshops and concerts across the country.

It was with Urban Voice that Tyndale was lucky enough to perform with one of his heroes, Stevie Wonder at Wembley Arena. 'It was fantastic,' Tyndale said. 'I love his music and he's such a down-to-earth guy.'

Not surprisingly Tyndale is extremely proud of what the One Voice Choir has achieved. 'It's to do with the people who have come together. From day one, everyone has just clicked and they have fun and belief in what they are doing,' he said.

One Voice is desperate for tenors, so if you have what it takes, visit their website at to find out how to join. The One Voice Choir will perform their TenthAnniversary Concert on July 18 at Preston Charter Theatre. Box office: 0845 344 2012.

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