Wattisham Military Wives Choir is a fabulous group of wives and girlfriends of personnel serving at Wattisham Flying Station, Suffolk.
We have around fifty choir members and meet up weekly to sing a range of uplifting songs, gossip and forget about life for a couple of hours.
On Saturday the 17th September we descended on Colchester along with a number of other Choirs to record 2 tracks for the upcoming Christmas Album, Home for Christmas which is to be released at the end of November. How exciting !!!
We were asked to open the entertainment for Armed Forces weekend in Felixstowe, Suffolk on Saturday 24th June at 11.05. We had planned a great set with some war tunes, medley’s and some core songs. The sun was shining, the sea was swaying and the ice creams were flowing !
Unfortunately the introductions to the event took longer than anticipated and half way through us singing stronger together we were rudely interrupted by some gunfire ! The Dutch invasion had begun 5 minutes earlier than planned and as we tried to carry on singing the gunfire got louder and most of our audience made their way to the sea front to watch the invasion on the beach.
Needless to say we were thrown of the stage without having finished our set which was even more so disappointing as we had drafted someone in especially to play the flute for “Whisper of Angels”. We did not get to sing that song.
On a serious note though we were honoured to be asked to sing at the opening of the weekends celebrations and the local council and organisers had done an incredible job organising the event. There was lots to do for young and old with lots of entertainment and re-enactments planned.
We cannot wait to see what they have planned for next year !
Most 3rd birthday parties usually peak at jelly and ice cream, but this was not the case for the Ladies of the Wattisham Military Wives Choir. On the 20th March they dolled themselves up and let their hair down for a night of fun and laughter, to celebrate our choir and the important role it has had in our lives for the past three years.
Homemade scrumptious culinary treats were enjoyed by all, and a very special birthday cake was prepared by our Treasurer. Our ladies, all excited for an evening without husbands, children, work or worries, looked radiant.
We took the opportunity throughout the night to give out awards and highlight specific contributions made throughout the year. The pinnacle of the evening was the presentation of our founder’s award, which was given to Lorraine Farrell our Deputy Chair, for her hard work, determination and unparalleled cheeriness throughout the year. Her efforts had not gone unnoticed by the choir and we will all miss her terribly when she gets posted away in June.
Our ladies enjoyed taking part in party games, dance competitions and, most importantly, each others company until the early hours of the morning.
The evening was an opportunity for us all to remember what our choir is about; that we are a group of women from different backgrounds, with different experiences and different aspirations who all have so much in common. That we are friends first and foremost and that we will support one another through anything that life, or the military, may throw our way.
We are extremely proud to be part of the Wattisham Military Wives Choir and hope that we will be able to celebrate many more Birthdays in the years to come.
Following our album recording session in Colchester back in September, Wattisham Military Wives Choir enjoyed the privilege of performing at Norwich Cathedral on 26th November as part of the network-wide ‘Home For Christmas’ tour. Also appearing at the event were Honington and Marham Military Wives Choirs. Your very own choir features on two of the album songs: Home for Christmas and O Holy Night, both of which were also performed at the Cathedral. We wish to express gratitude to our fantastic Music Director, Jennie Francis who arranged many of the songs we performed. One of our members commented afterwards, “It was an amazing evening. I especially loved singing with the cathedral organ – it gave me goosebumps!”
Although it has been a fun experience, the main purpose of our choir is to provide a network of friends who enjoy singing together. Because we are together every week, we are able to act as a support to each other. New people are welcomed and begin to feel at home almost straight away.
Summer 2014 was my fiancé’s first deployment on operations… and it was halfway through the dreaded ordeal that I had to pack my bags and relocate 300 miles from south Devon to deepest, darkest Suffolk (well… Stowmarket!)
The move was surprisingly simple, and after only four days in my new surroundings (after single-handedly installing the washing machine, TV and building all the furniture) I started my course at UEA. It was within the first month of living in Suffolk, in absence of my one link to Wattisham that I was taken under the wing of a certain Mrs. K. She suggested I come and see what the choir was all about, so I did.
Singing with the ladies was not only enjoyable, but offered a true sense of belonging and community whilst the other half was away. I couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming and supportive environment to be a part of.
When he returned, I had already made a small circle of friends independently… and to his surprise I ended up introducing him to various individuals I had met through my fellow choir ladies at the Christmas ball…
As a relatively new member, I cannot encourage other ladies enough to consider joining us to sing together, every Tuesday from 6.30-8.30pm. All abilities are welcome, and there is even ac rèche to take your children off your hands for 2 hours a week. If you are at all interested, contact the choir at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Monday 13th April, the ladies of Wattisham Military Wives Choir had the privilege of performing to another very special group of ladies… at the Three Valleys’ WI monthly meeting held in Elmsett. We arrived early evening and rehearsed outside whilst enjoying the Spring air.
To begin our performance, our Chairlady Anna Lewis took to the stage to introduce the choir, its concept and brief history before sharing her own reasons for joining and passion for singing with the ladies. Anna described how singing together each week brings joy to so many. Our introduction concluded with a recital of ‘When God created the Military Wife’ from Catherine Johnson, which was met with humoured yet empathetic applause from the audience.
We performed a variety of music opening with an unaccompanied piece ‘Down in the River’, (Arr Kenyon) then moved onto more popular-style pieces of ‘Stronger Together’ and ‘Wherever You Are’ (with solo from Emily Albon). We also showcased ‘The Snow’ (Elgar), a piece the Military Wives Choir performed at the BBC War Horse Prom last year. We have been working on it as a choir and it was a pleasure to share our efforts with the audience. The tempo then shifted as we sung ‘Annie’s Song’ followed by a medley of Vera Lyn classics (‘Songs that won the War’), culminating in a solo from Kitty Meeks. The next two songs of ‘Corner of the Sky’ and ‘Whisper of Angels’ moved the audience back into our more popular-style repertoire. We ended our performance with an uplifting rendition of ‘Sing’ which was met with great applause.
Following the concert, several of us were able to stay and meet members of the audience. We then enjoyed sampling the delightful homemade cakes & pastries along with wonderful cup of tea in true WI fashion!
The Radio Times wrote up their summary of a remarkable weekend at The Royal Albert Hall when 5 of our choir took part in the War Horse performance of the BBC Proms.
A cannon blasted out of the arena floor and the Military Wives made their debut in the gods.
Their leading light, Gareth Malone climbed a small ladder to a podium almost as if going over the top. Now you may find his zeal somewhere on the spectrum between inspirational and incredibly annoying, but he’d achieved much here with these ladies, who were in fine voice for three songs from the Home Front by Elgar and Holst, and a hymn by Proms founder Henry Wood.
This summer, 5 of our ladies were very fortunate to perform with the 100-strong Proms Military Wives Choir at the War Horse Prom in the Royal Albert Hall. Their journey from audition to the final performance is on BBC2 at 9pm on 16 December and at 8.30pm on 24 December. You can find the details of it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04vkfft