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South Oxhey Choir is back on TV
Community spirit is at the heart of the South Oxhey Choir. A lot of the faces that first came to our screens back in September 2009 when The Choir: Unsung Town first aired are no longer there and numbers may have fallen from 250 to 110 but the strength of the adult and children's groups remains solid. There is a chance to catch up with the action this month as the choir features in a BBC2 programme The Choir: Unsung Town Revisited.
The show will feature interviews with audiences, past and present choir members and footage from the choir's sing along event at the Camden Roundhouse in March this year. The concert is dear to many choir members as it marks the final television appearance of Kitty Lee, who sadly passed away in June at the age of 90.
Choir chair Terry Pettitt says: "Definitely the loss of Kitty is something that weighs heavily on the choir and she is without doubt missed every single week."
Events officer Mark Brunette, has been a tenor with the choir since it was first formed in 2008: "We held a memorial for Kitty at our Watford Palace Theatre in July," recalls Mark. "We sang her favourite tune White Cliffs of Dover. She and Fred (Polley) went round the schools in South Oxhey and taught the song to the kids for Soxfest. Everyone misses her, she touched hearts of the whole nation as well as the choir."
The South Oxhey Festival in 2009 was just one of the choir's triumphs. They impressed audiences at prestigious venues such as St Albans Cathedral, Westminster's Central Hall, Watford Colosseum and at numerous community events.
This wealth of experience has been good for Mark, who went on to play Graham Taylor in the Palace Theatre's community play Hello, Mr Capello and took part in the charity dance event Strictly Come Hospice.
Mel Owen, South Oxhey ChoirI used to run away and hide when the cameras were on us but by the time the programmes finished, it had really helped my confidence
So how does he feel looking back over the past three years?
"The attention was surreal, I didn't think it would take off as much at it did and we're still enjoying it and really having fun.
Our Christmas concert and its going to be a real family orientated affair with Christmas carols to join in with and a visit from Santa for all the children.
I want to create a real extravaganza to really get people in the festive spirit, so they go away thinking, right, I'm ready for Christmas now."
Alto Mel Owen has been attending the choir from the start with her grandmother Irene Owen, 88.
"She's still as keen as ever," says Mel. "If she's ill and misses it, she hates it.
"I used to run away and hide when the cameras were on us but by the time the programmes finished, it had really helped my confidence. I was a soloist at the Roundhouse and I wouldn't have been able to do that at the start.
"The choir is very much about the community. It's helped me make friends. In a lot of ways it's stronger now the cameras are not there.
"I work full-time and I'm a single parent to two children and sometimes I get home and I'm tired but I make myself go to choir rehearsal one a week and it always perks me up; it's not your normal social activity."
The Choir: Unsung Town Revisited airs on Monday, November 28 at 9pm on BBC2.
The choir will also be performing at the South Oxhey Christmas Fair on December 3 at 12noon. The South Oxhey Choir Christmas Concert takes place in the Great Hall, Hatch End High School, Headstone Lane on Saturday, December 10 at 6pm.
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