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Another year of inChoir

What a year it has been.

During December alone we have sung everywhere, and in every weather - or so it feels – but, for now, we all have a couple of weeks without our weekly choir sessions.

This year has been brilliant, hasn't it? inChoir is 10!! Can you believe it? Mark wrote a brilliant post about this, so please read it here rather than me repeating his words. I'll pick out a few of my highlights, but first – for those who don't know me – I'm Kirsty. I've been with inChoir for nearly 9 years, and have been part of the admin team for the last 4.5, joining the leaders earlier this year. Many of the social media posts come from me and I'm afraid that all of the terrible Christmas jokes Mark is being blamed for were actually posted by yours truly! I obviously spend too much time with Mr Heppell.

Anyone who has attended the Crawley choir or a Christmas concert at The Charis Centre will know me as “the one with the air con remote” - I'm pretty sure it's an official title and will be on my name badge soon. Although, at a Crawley concert such as this year's Christmas one you'll be equally likely to see me serving tea, helping people find a seat, photographing the performance, being taller than Karen well as singing and conducting! I've had the pleasure of singing at and working with the Crawley, Horsham and - until very recently - Dorking choirs since their very first sessions, and I've visited a few of the other sessions over the years. What a friendly bunch you (we) all are! So welcoming of newcomers and interlopers when members venture across to other sessions to catch up or simply have a second inChoir fix that week!

So, back to my highlights... and where better to start than our fantastic 10th Anniversary Concerts in July. Like the entire inChoir team and a lot of helpers, I was at The Hawth on both Saturday and Sunday, helping sign people in before the concerts, and up in the sopranos with Alys each night. I take my hat off to everyone involved in the tech side of the weekend; a huge amount of work was done before the choir even arrived at the theatre, and they made us sound incredible. Weren't they fun nights? We sang, we laughed and we had a wonderful weekend surrounded by friends and family. Did we manage to find anyone in either audience who didn't know someone on stage!? I wrote a piece on the concerts at the time, which you can find here, and Willo Heesom wrote a lovely piece too.

In August, I finally had the chance to tag along on another inChoir holiday when we visited Edinburgh; only my 3rd away trip in those 9 years. An inChoir veteran I may be, but I am most certainly an inChoir holiday newbie! It was very exciting packing up all of my choir things...and then unpacking them all at the airport since I'd forgotten about the liquids in hand luggage rule, repacking (“shoving”) it all back in, and then unpacking them AGAIN after I missed one bottle buried in my bag. However, never doubt the appeal of any amount of time without hearing “Mummy, Mummy, MUMMY, MUUUUUMMMMMYYYYYY”, so I put some music on, read a book and had an uninterrupted glass of wine.

It was so much fun exploring Edinburgh, singing in the sunshine (and rain) and being taken in by seasoned inChoir holidayers! Imagine my delight to discover that after watching the incredible Edinburgh Tattoo on the first night, we without question immediately retired to the hotel bar afterwards – I have been missing out! However, young children have to take priority and so they have for the last nearly 5 years, but it was time to join you all on an inChoir adventure beyond the Surrey-West Sussex border! You were brilliant. It was a privilege to sing with you all on the Mercat Stage and to conduct you in St Giles' Cathedral. Thank you for looking up, smiling and – most importantly – enjoying yourselves. What a fantastic weekend. Thank you to Bonny Robinson, who wrote us a beautiful post all about her experiences in Edinburgh and joining inChoir this year. You can read it here.

October arrived and with it our eagerly awaited 10th Anniversary Ball. I can't remember the last time I danced so solidly, eventually ditching my heels a couple of hours in. Kath and I created our own dance floor directly in front of the band and proceeded to do our own version of interpretive dance to every song. It was quite the workout! Now, I can't talk about the ball without mentioning our Purple Princess, Kristy. Anyone who saw her that night will remember how much fun she had, dancing away in her wheelchair surrounded by her inChoir friends. Her beaming smile in the photos said it all. Always smiling. I'm sure that everyone joins me in sending our love to her family and friends at this difficult time of year. We all miss her very much.

December, and with it the Christmas performances, including Bath Christmas Market. Somehow, despite having nagged just about everyone about how I'd like to sing in Bath, I still haven't made it. Twice I was pregnant and even thinking about the coach journey made me need a lie down, and this time we are preparing to move house and that on top of Christmas with 2 young children made a weekend away incredibly appealing(!)...but perhaps not sensible. So I remained here (again!) and instead lead a lovely group of you in Horsham, and Karen (who also remained behind) lead a beautiful concert by candlelight in Arundel that evening. By all accounts, Bath sounded wonderful – if wet at the end - but what is an inChoir performance without a little/lot of rain? I firmly believe a mid song downpour to be part of the inChoir initiation. (For more on Bath, please read Ian's blog post here).

We finished off our Christmas singing season with Christmas concert week – and what a week! I was at The Charis Centre on Thursday evening and had such a brilliant evening. I managed to sneak back to the altos after singing soprano for the majority of the year (thank you for having me back ladies!) and enjoyed every minute of it. Mark, Karen, Jude and I split the evening's conducting and I'm sure I speak for us all when I say what a pleasure it was so stand in front of you and hear those songs performed. Mind you, as glorious as it is, I am going to put in a request that we skip “Walking in the Air” next year because I am simply not fit enough. It was two songs later that Mark, Karen, Jude, Alys and I sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and I was still exhausted from flying around the room. Mind you, two days before, I'd asked my 4 year old what I could do better, to which he had responded “exercise”, so maybe he was right. You can always trust a child to be brutally honest, although I had meant in parenting terms!

So, thank you all again for a wonderful 2019. We have raised an amazing amount of money for lots of worthy causes again this year and that is thanks to each and every one of you. To all of you who travel to each performance, by plane, train, coach or car; to all those who simply encourage their friends to come along; to those who come along and support us in the sun, rain and even occasionally inside; to everyone who puts a penny or two in the bucket; g. It really adds up and we are always delighted at the amount we are able to donate to local charities who are often close to our hearts (specifics to come in early 2020).

I hope you all have a well earned break and we will see you all in early January!!