When it was created in 2015, Selby Community Choir was intended to provide new opportunities for residents to expand their horizons and get involved in the place where they live.
More than seven years later, the choir not only does that but has evolved into its own community and is about to embark on a fresh chapter in its history.
The choir was launched under the Selby Big Local project, an ambitions scheme funded with a Big Lottery grant with the intention of encouraging residents to make lasting improvements to their community.
It was founded by Paula Haylett, a Salvation Army captain, and when she moved on in 2016 it appeared the choir could have folded, though former teacher Susan Thomson was persuaded to take on the role instead.
From the point of working with an accompanist to organise weekly sessions and singing events, Susan has seen members increasingly play a more active role.
“The choir has become a community itself, people have crept out of the woodwork; someone opens up, someone else opens the windows; others set out the chairs,” she said.
“This is something which has just evolved, it is not something I have asked for and we are now getting back into the swing after the pandemic.
“Something I am passionate about is providing a regular, enjoyable and accessible singing experience to which anyone in the community can belong.”
The choir’s membership varies and is currently between 25 and 30, but can reach 40, with most members retired, though others are in their 20s and 30s. Unusually, Selby has nine men who take part in a pastime normally dominated by women.
The choir’s musical programme is varied and keeps an upbeat feelgood theme, which has seen them perform at venues from street corners – to raise money for charities – to Selby Abbey. They have been invited to perform at Christmas light switch-on ceremonies, too.
Big Selby has now come to an end, leaving the choir to survive as an independent entity, with Selby and District Association of Voluntary Service stepping in until that process is completed.
Choir members are on a summer break, but when they next meet on September 6, a new committee will be voted in.
Members pay £2 per session, to cover the cost of renting a room in the Church at the Crossroads and refreshments. The objective is to make sure the sessions, which take place on Tuesday evenings from 7.30pm, remain affordable for those who want to take part. The choir also has a concession to help those in circumstances that mean they may find payment difficult.
The choir is open to all, including those who “can’t sing a note”, said Susan. Selby Community Choir is on Facebook and the email contact address is firstname.lastname@example.org