History of the Ghyll Singers by founder member Mary Cox

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The choir was started in September 1941 by the Ulverston Afternoon Townswomen's Guild, and for several years was known by that name. The first conductor was Mrs Christabel Jackson. Rehearsals were held on Friday afternons in the Quaker Meeting Rooms, which were behind the Penny Farthing Club in Queen Street. These buildings disappeared when County Road through Ulverston was made. After a year or two the choir came under the auspice of the Adult Education authority and attracted new members who were not in the Townswomen's Guild, though the choir continued under the  Guild name.

About 1944 or early 1945 Mr and Mrs Jackson moved away from Ulverston and the choir had a new conductor: Mrs Gwen Kenyon. She carried on for a good number of years and after she died Mr Crawford took over. By this time the choir was entering musical festivals and as there were more ladies who were not in the Townswomen's Guild the name was changed to Ulverston Ladies Choir.

After Mr Crawford died Mrs Rita Mathews, who had been the pianist, took over as conductor for a few years before handing over to Mrs Anne Hoyle. This was, I think, just over twenty years or so ago. Rehearsals were still on Friday afternoons and at that time were held in the Emmanuel Centre in Mill Street. Anne didn't think the name Ulverston Ladies Choir was suitable as several of the ladies lived outside of Ulverston.  So the name was changed again to The Ghyll Singers. Anne lived in Flookburgh and had to come Friday afternoons by train. She started a Tuesday evening practice once a fortnight and her daughter used to bring her to this, and also sang in the choir. As time went on the Tuesday evenings became weekly rehearsals and the Friday afternoons were discontinued.

After Anne died, Stella McKeever took over as conductor until July 2010. In September 2010 Mrs Deborah Milledge became our conductor and hopefully the choir will continue to flourish for many more years than the seventy which we reach this year.

In 1945 I had to leave the choir as my father died and I had to get a job. I never sang with Mrs Kenyon. When I retired and rejoined the choir, Mr Crawford was the conductor. I have learnt a lot from him and all the other conductors and really hope that I can reach the seventieth birthday date.

Mary Cox 

Newton Street, Ulverston

Summer 2010

Mary Cox joined the choir at its foundation as a slip of a girl in 1941. After an absence from the choir during which she fitted in a busy career in school catering management, she rejoined upon her retirement and sang with us until shortly before her death in 2016, at the age of 100. The Ghyll Singers sang with Mary at her hundredth birthday and for her funeral.

We are honoured that Mary chose to remain with the choir with such commitment. We remember her fondly as a delightful person and stalwart member of our soprano section.

   © The Ghyll Singers 2019