How a Yorkshire Choir's Christmas Album is Raising Money For Dementia UK
Voices of Yorkshire, a weekly singing group with members across the county, have recorded a Christmas album to spread joy whilst raising money for Dementia UK
Nick Ingram is the founder of Voices of Yorkshire. He began his singing career in the West End, then got a record deal and had songs in the charts in 2008 and 2009 with pop rock band The Yeah You’s. Since then he has sung the voice overs for the singing parts in Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam. ‘My background in music is very varied,’ he laughs. Nick moved up north seven and a half years ago and that’s when he started running choirs. Voices of Yorkshire has been running for six years, starting out with a small group of 20 people. Now they boast around 400 members, as well as an offshoot in Oxfordshire.
Voices of Yorkshire is a relaxed and inclusive group, open to anyone with a love of singing. ‘It’s for anyone who shares a joy for singing and wants to come together to make a really good sound, but mostly to be there for each other and raise money for charity,’ says Nick. ‘We range from age 16 and our oldest member turned 90 last week! Everyone is welcome and we sing at various events throughout the year, always raising money for charities. We tend to have a charity of the year and a couple of years ago we raised money for Martin House Hospice (a fantastic children’s hospice), last year we raised money for local mental health group It’s Worth Talking About, and this year we’ve been focusing on raising money for Dementia UK. We’ve done all sorts of fundraisers for the charity this year and in June we put on a performance in Ilkley and raised a lot of money. We had a volunteer from Dementia UK come along to talk to our audiences too, so we got to learn more about the incredible work that they do.’
Voices of Yorkshire sing a range of well known contemporary rock and pop songs as well as some show tunes, but Nick is always open to new suggestions. There are currently six choirs involved in the group in Bingley, Skipton, Oakworth, Silsden, Pudsey and Menston, running Monday to Thursday. ‘We rehearse separately then come together to perform,’ Nick explains. ‘I try to find places to perform where numbers aren’t limited as it gets quite tricky when everyone wants to perform. We sang for Candlelighters’ annual bereavement afternoon at Headingley Stadium which was really emotional and touching, but so rewarding. It’s a real honour to be asked to go and sing there. The idea is to bring as many people together as we can so we can spread joy.’
Nick is delighted to once again work with producer Andy Thornton following the success of last year's debut album, From T’Top, which was recorded at the Jam On Top Studio's in Keighley and raised money for It’s Worth Talking About. ‘I think that album’s going to be on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music for years and if anyone ever has a listen the money goes direct to the charity, and this second album should be very much the same.’
Voices of Yorkshire used Keighley’s Victoria Hall for the recording of By ‘Eck It’s Christmas, the new Christmas album following a mass rehearsal at the venue. ‘I started planning this Christmas album in March, so it’s been a long Christmas,’ Nick laughs. ‘In June, when it was incredibly warm and everyone was out in their gardens, I was making Christmas songs – my neighbours must think I’m barmy, but luckily a lot of them sing in the choir. There’s a children’s choir on there too [singing Sparkle and Shine from the film Nativity!] thanks to a local children’s drama company. We also have children reading poems and some of them are children of our choir members which is really nice. There will be around seven or eight Christmas songs and it’s a real range, from the Christmas classics such as I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by Wizzard to a folky version of Auld Lang Syne. There’s a Christmas medley which I’ve put together of some of the more contemporary Christmas songs too, and hopefully people will enjoy that.’
The Christmas album is in support of Dementia UK. ‘Many of our choir members have been directly impacted by dementia, so it is a cause close to all their hearts. The charities we raise money for are suggested by our members,’ Nick adds. ‘Dementia is definitely something that’s very personal for lots of them and the role of our community choir is really to raise money and be there for each other.
‘We’re performing fairly locally over Christmas, including in Skipton, Ilkley and Bingley. We’ll start at the end of November with a selection shows, including light switch-ons. It’s a pleasure to be asked to perform at those. I’ve really learned so much about collective singing through the power of being a group and singing together. In fact, I had a post on my Facebook page recently from a lady who sings with us sharing how important it is for mental and physical health. Even though I’ve been a singer my whole life, I’m still learning lots about the physical benefits of it.’
Your favourite Christmas song?
Stay Another Day by East 17. I’m very lucky to have written songs with Tony Mortimer who actually wrote that song.
Your favourite song that the choir performs live?
Our choir’s favourite song is probably Run by Snow Patrol.
Yorkshire puds on Christmas Dinner – yes or no?
100 percent! For me, it’s Yorkshire puddings at all times. That’s why I moved here!
What's the best Christmas present you've ever received?
My first guitar from my mum and dad. I remember it very well. I think I cried.
What are your plans for Christmas this year?
I’ll be at home with my family and my folks are coming up from London so it’ll be nice for us all to be together.
WHERE TO SEE VOICES OF YORKSHIRE THIS CHRISTMAS
26th November: Skipton Christmas Lights Switch On
2nd December: Bingley Christmas Event In The Square
2nd December: East Riddlesden Hall
2nd December: Menston Christmas Lights Switch On
3rd December: Pudsey Christmas Lights Switch On
9th December: Haworth Christmas Afternoon
10th December: Ilkley Kings Hall Fundraising Day