As spokesman Alan Bickle explains: “Just before Christmas, the Sussex Gruffs combined their male voices in a virtual Christmas Zoom-along concert with two ladies’ choirs from Horsham, the Songbirds and The Pleasure Singers.
“Joanna Eames, music director of the Songbirds, organised the evening of Christmas songs to lift the spirits of members of the choirs and those who were able to join in. Lucy Goldberg and Jon Openshaw, music directors of the Sussex Gruffs and The Pleasure Singers respectively, rehearsed their choirs ready for the occasion.
“In addition to carols and other festive songs, individual members from each choir recorded in advance and on their own computer equipment a performance of O Little Town of Bethlehem.
“Joanna combined all the separate recordings to create an arrangement which can be found in the Songbirds’ YouTube channel by typing in Joanna Eames.
“Due to the limitations of Zoom and complications with copyright, the entire event could not be recorded or broadcast.”
Now the Sussex Gruffs turn their attention to 2021 – and will continue to rehearse their songs with their music director via Zoom.
“Those of the choir who feel confident enough in the current pandemic, will also, when permitted, practise in person at Heene Community Centre in combination with those who prefer the security of Zooming in from home.
“As soon as the problem of the Covid infection of residents in local care homes has been overcome, we will wish to bring a smile to all the residents’ faces by resuming summer and winter choral concerts.
“We will also seek to resurrect the concert missed during lockdown, singing with the Songbirds Ladies Choir, in aid of the Worthing-based charity Superstar Arts and the West Worthing Baptist Church.
“The Gruffs will be ready to provide entertainment to celebrate the opening of fetes and other public events and would very much like to help say a big thank you to the NHS and other front-line workers by singing at a suitable event in West Sussex.
“The first and safest performances to be considered may well be as part of outside events.
“The Gruffs were booked to sing at Sussex Prairie Gardens last year and to open a summer fete in Yapton and both were, of course, cancelled.
“They had also arranged to sing to the public on the Worthing Promenade and that may be a possibility in the summer of 2021.”
In the meantime, the Sussex Gruffs are looking for gentlemen recruits: “If spending most of your time indoors is getting a bit tiresome, it is said that singing – no matter what you think of your own voice! – is the perfect remedy.
“Would you like to try singing from home via a simple Zoom link to your computer?
“You can join the Gruffs at any of their online sing-alongs and only you or your household will hear your voice!
“Alternatively, when everyone can meet in person once again, you can go along and join in one of our rehearsal evenings or just pop along to see how relaxed they are.
“Go to www.sussexgruffsmvc.co.uk and Contact Us.
“To join the choir, we will not require you to audition. You won’t need to be able to read music and we’ll provide the song sheets!
“A direct phone number for contacting the Gruffs is also available so please call on 01903 724364.”