About Us

The Centenary Choir is based in Malvern, Worcestershire and started in 2014 as an informal group called the Trench Choir, marking the centenary of World War I by researching and singing songs from the war. No special musical knowledge or ability were required, and this has attracted a number of members who would otherwise never have opportunity to sing. The Trench Choir had a regular membership around twenty people and proved popular as shown by the 50 public events and performances to 2018. As the end of the Centenary approached the Choir decided to continue with its mission of approaching history through song and music and to rename itself as the Centenary Choir. We were successful in obtaining a Heritage Lottery Grant to help us carry out research and to meet running costs and also gratefully acknowledge financial help from the Upton Blues Charity to pay the costs of professional singing tuition. Malvern Town Council also gave us a grant in 2017 towards running costs and a further grant in 2019 to help us travel abroad in 2020 to sing at the Malvern Gate in Landrecies, France, a town supported by Malvern in the post-World war one period.

Our Choir

Es HoyleChairman
My husband was asked to provide a choir for a poetry-based Centenary of the beginning of World War 1. He fully expected to attract a group of young men to sing songs from the trenches. When the majority of attendees turned out to be women, he roped me in to help. I led them as sister suffragettes, as nurses, and later even as shell shop workers. The first event was so successful that we decided to keep going as the Trench Choir, uncovering the history of WW1 as it unfolded, through song. I have learned so much history through each project we tackle and met some fascinating people. It’s inspiring to sing songs from so long ago and to think of how people kept singing in the face of such hardship. This year the Trench Choir has become the Centenary Choir and it is refreshing to sing songs from times of peace.
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William ColemanMusic Director
In 2014 I was approached by the Friends of the Dymock Poets to provide some music for their commemoration of the beginning of World War 1. I advertised in the Gazette for volunteers and this was the beginning of the Trench Choir which has now become the Centenary Choir. I already knew some of the poetry and enjoyed bringing it closer to people through a musical and theatrical performance including authentic letters and songs from the trenches. The audience had to fight their way through the suffragettes who chanted at them on the way in and the soldiers tramped exhausted onto the stage with the simple refrain ‘we’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here’. It was the beginning of an unexpected journey and, as the Centenary Choir continues to research and sing the songs of 100 years ago, it’s not over yet.
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Jim KellySecretary
I joined the choir in 2015 with no previous musical experience and found that I really enjoy singing in a group. The Centenary Choir involves a lot of other activities as well, such as researching songs from the last 100 years and their historical context, and finding out about costumes. We work with other organisations too, most recently with The Chase High School and perform at a range of venues including homes for older people. Most of all I like the friendliness of the group and the support we give one another.
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Bill CockburnTreasurer
My wife and I joined the Trench/Centenary choir some 2 years ago. I already had an interest in the military history of the First World War and knew some of the songs and poetry of the period, but the research done by choir members showed me many remarkable songs that I was unaware of and have enjoyed singing in the various concerts that we have performed. We are now moving into the music of the Twenties and looking at the songs as they reflected social life and post-war feelings and aspirations, which is another fascinating period for songs.
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Sue PotterMarketing and publicity
I have been with the choir since 2016, when I joined after moving to the Malvern area from Kidderminster. I particularly like the Centenary choir as it has the added element of history/historical research, which influences both our songs and the costumes that we wear. I like to think we are keeping important historical events alive through the medium of song.
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Mike FraySong Librarian
I have been with the choir since 2014, fighting our way through many campaigns, in and out if those trenches like a fiddlers elbow. I had spotted an advert in the local paper. I liked it because it said being able to sing was an option, so I thought that’s the one for me. I love the teamwork involved in the choir, where people are coming together to work as a team.
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Malvern, Worcestershire




07519 529775