Inspirational women fully deserve the No 1 spot

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Perhaps the music charts don’t have quite the appeal they once commanded, but there remains each year an eager anticipation as to which particular artist or group will achieve the coveted Christmas No 1 spot.

Over the years, some all-time greats have sat on top of the tree over the festive holiday, including Elvis Presley, Queen, Cliff Richard, Tom Jones and The Beatles (four times in five years).

Now there is every chance that this illustrious company will be joined by a group of ‘ordinary’ women who turned out to be quite extraordinary.

They are the Military Wives choir and their number includes Portsmouth’s own Chantelle Stokes.

The mother-of-three and her colleagues have touched hearts all over the country with their beautiful Wherever You Are.

It was written using words and phrases from letters exchanged between the women and their husbands, who were serving in Afghanistan. As viewers of the BBC2 series The Choir will know, the sensational success of the group was achieved from a less than promising start.

For unlike the famous names who have secured the Christmas No 1 spot in the past, few if any of the women involved had ever thought of singing in public, let alone taking on the country’s top performers in the race for seasonal stardom.

That they have melded so perfectly as a group is due largely to their inspirational choirmaster Gareth Malone, who, we would suggest, is precisely the sort of person who should be recognised in the New Year Honours.

But it is due too to the spirit of each individual woman involved. Lonely and scared as their husbands served our country in a war zone, they showed inner strength and collective courage as music became a rock in their daily lives.

There have been some pretty ropey Christmas hits over the years and some very good ones as well. Wherever You Are is undoubtedly in the ‘very good’ class and seldom if ever would there have been a more deserved No 1.

Good luck girls!