Birthday celebrations for Littlehampton choir

The Edwin James Festival Choir found plenty to sing about as they enjoyed their 20th birthday evening at The Vardar Restaurant in Littlehampton.

Edwin James birthday party: James Rushman, Musical Director and Chris Allen
Edwin James birthday party: James Rushman, Musical Director and Chris Allen

Founded in August 1998 by musical director James Rushman, at the time organist and choir director at St James the Great Church, the choir has travelled a long way since a handful of church choir members performed the first concert with the help of guest members and the Hanover Band.

Choir spokeswoman Madeleine Wadley said: “As a popular community choir, the Edwin James Festival Choir now boasts 80 active singing members, a pool of over 200 orchestra members and 90 patrons.

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“Some 84 members of the choir gathered for the celebration evening attended by choir and orchestra members, patrons, partners and friends. Special guests were the Mayor of Littlehampton, William Blanchard-Cooper, and his consort and representatives from the choir’s nominated charities for the year to July 2018, namely Parkinson’s UK, Children on the Edge, 4sight Vision Support and Chichester Stroke Club who were each presented with a £500 cheque.

“Celebrations began with the choir singing their own special grace to the tune Thank You For The Music. A three-course dinner was enjoyed by all but the choir had to sing for their supper and with everyone encouraged to join in Sussex by the Sea, I Could Be Happy, Grease Lightning and Summer Nights.

“A special and emotional moment in the evening for James Rushman and Chris Allen was when a small pop-up group of choir members sang a specially-written song by choir member Barbara Jackson, the lyrics of which thanked and praised both men for their hard work and dedication. Speeches followed from chairman Noel Caplin and president James Rushman.”

Then came the annual awards, made to recognise and thank those who have made a special contribution to the choir during the year, as nominated and voted for by the members. A new award, The President’s Award, was unveiled and presented jointly to Kay Durrant, leader of the orchestra for the past 19 years and to husband-and-wife team Rob and Wendy Mulford as webmaster, Facebook administrator, advertising, photography and concert videos. Other awards were the Edwin James Award presented to choir secretary Julie Griffiths, The Myrtle Allen Award for best newcomer went to Lorraine Perry, The Janet Martin Award for best supporting member outside the committee went to Keith Mingay.

The annual prom concert will be performed on September 15 at St James the Great Church, Littlehampton. Tickets £10 available from the box office on 01243 582330 and at the door.