Thornton Le Dale villagers forms virtual choir to lift lockdown spirit

In Thornton Le Dale, villagers pulled together to create a virtual choir during lockdown – inspired by the uplifting spirit of the Queen’s Covid-19 speech.

The sing-a-long forms the backing track to a special project put together by residents of Thornton Le Dale to celebrate VE Day 75 and mark the unprecedented times of the pandemic.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Janet Sanderson, who co-ordinated the project, wanted to bring residents together at a time when isolation was beginning to take its toll on the mood within the village.    

The project has several parts, including a VE Day 75 tribute featuring pictures of village residents who served and of the army camp in the village.

There’s also a section on Life in Lockdown and another celebrating Thornton Le Dale’s community groups, including the Christmas lights team, the village Hub, Women’s Institute and the ukulele group.

Inspired by the Queen’s Speech, Cllr Sanderson encouraged residents to submit clips of themselves singing We’ll Meet Again to a karaoke-type backing track. The recordings were then merged together to form the virtual choir that gives structure to the film.

Ukulele group members John Scoble and Peter Smith put the wartime track together.

John said: “Cllr Sanderson contacted me to ask if I could help because I run the ukulele group.

“I have 70 people of all ages playing and I have been running virtual lessons during lockdown.

“I decided to record myself playing ukulele for the track and whistling. I just felt that whistling was something very much of that era.

“Cllr Sanderson has done a brilliant job. It’s been a wonderful community effort.

“All sorts of different ages got singing and involved. She’s created a real community voice.”

Peter Smith helped out with the technology side of putting the project together.

He said: “Cllr Sanderson knew I looked after the village website and did the technology support for the ukulele group.

“So she contacted me and asked if I would help to put the old photographs on the video.

“I also made a video with the music and words from the song so residents could sing along and send their recordings in.”

Cllr Janet Sanderson said: “It has been an amazing journey with some quite poignant stories of loyalty and dedication to the village both then and now.

“The struggle was getting pictures of the village during war time as most men were away serving their country.

“I have had some amazing help from people in the village, it’s what we are best at – all coming together to make things happen, a real team effort, which has resulted in an historic documentation of life in lockdown.

“The war time pictures are still coming in and as a spin-off from the film we have decided to make a fuller record of this period of village history.

“My thanks go out to all the volunteers both past and present who have contributed to making our village special.

“I know that many people have been outside of their comfort zone in respect of the technology, others have shared very personal family stories. We have woven all these community threads together to make a lasting tribute and permanent record of village life during these strange times.”