Advent Sunday marked the 20th anniversary of a local choir which began life with just a handful of local churchgoers. Ashover Celebration Choir now has 38 regular members aged between 9 and 93 and includes in its ranks three generations of the same family.
At a special celebration this week, choir member Derek Marrison praised the ‘fantastic leadership’ of Ruth Russell, founder member and still musical director of the choir, and said: “We enjoy the success we have today because everybody in the choir is valued and is seen as having something to offer irrespective of their musical ability”.
Sunday morning saw Ruth cut a special iced cake with 20 candles to mark the choir’s red letter day. It was then cut and served to members of the congregation at All Saints Church in the village.
Monday night rehearsals now include people from other local churches as well as Ashover and include founder members Ruth, and her husband, David, Viv Lord of Littlemoor and her daughter, Carol, from Chesterfield.
Carol’s daughter, nine-year-old Mia, is the youngest member and presented Ruth with a special bouquet as a token of the choir’s appreciation. Oldest choir member is 93-year-old Peg Munks of Littlemoor.
Tributes to Ruth and the choir were paid by Derek on behalf of members, by the Revd Peter Boyden on behalf of the mission and ministry team, and by church treasurer Peter Lord, on behalf of the congregation.
The Celebration Choir will have a permanent reminder of its 20th anniversary in the shape of music ring binders embossed with the choir’s name and a logo designed by teenager Oliver Hunt, an art and design student at Chesterfield College who lives in Ashover. They have been bought with a donation from Ashover Primary Care Trust.
Regarding the choir, Ruth commented: “We are a team. We work, play, laugh, cry, pray and sing together. I am just so grateful to everyone for their contribution and support over the years.”