Choir says singing helped them through the pandemic - and urges others to join

MEMBERS of a choir have spoken about how singing helped them through the pandemic, as they get ready to return to normality after 17 months of online rehearsals.

Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 3:22 pm

The Igloo Choir, which was set up 10 years ago by singer and songwriter Dielle Hannah, has adapted to the challenges of the pandemic and its members have helped each other continue producing music throughout this ‘frightening’ period.

Dielle, from Wickham, said: ‘I’m a musician, my life has been completely shut down so it’s been really good for us to log on and see some familiar faces, have a laugh and sing together, and it makes you feel better about the world.’

The choir, with members aged between mid-30s and 80, used Zoom to rehearse, compose new songs and produce music videos by using green screens.

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Dielle Hannah, right, performs with the Igloo Choir at Mount Folly Nurseries, Wickham. The choir are having a taster day on August 21st where all are welcome Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 120821-29)

Dielle said: ‘With the wisdom of hindsight, it’s been really good to keep the group together. At no point have we stopped, every single rehearsal that we would have done in person has taken place online and we’ve continued to do things. We’ve supported each other and they’re such a lovely group of people.’

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The choir, which was set up with the intention of enhancing people’s quality of life, has now begun to take bookings for events, including the upcoming Wickham Village Fete.

It has also made a return to face-to-face rehearsals in outdoor spaces as Covid restrictions have eased.

Dielle Hannah performs with the Igloo Choir at Mount Folly Nurseries, Wickham. The choir are having a taster day on August 21st where all are welcome Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 120821-23)

Dielle said: ‘We’re ready to go out and keep doing gigs and performances because they continued to practise. They’ve done amazingly well with it, I’m very proud of them all.’

All of the 13 members have had no musical training, except from that offered by Dielle, and sing simply for pleasure. The maximum number in the choir at any one time is 20, and some members live outside the county in places such as Newport.

Dielle said: ‘It’s a lovely way to meet new people and find somewhere that you belong and where you’ll be accepted and have something collective to focus on.’

One member of the choir, Bob Cheshire, has rejoined the choir in February after taking time away to care for his wife before she died.

Performers, from left, Chris Wood, David Ford, Angie Kingsland, hayley Durrant and Bob Cheshire. The Igloo Choir at Mount Folly Nurseries, Wickham. The choir are having a taster day on August 21st where all are welcome Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 120821-28)

The 69-year-old said he felt the choir helped his ‘mental condition’.

He said: ‘It’s a nice place to be with like-minded people.’

Bob, who served in the navy for 23 years, is also part of a Rock and Blues band. Despite having had a variety of different occupations in life, Bob has always wanted to learn the guitar, which he eventually did 12 years ago after purchasing one from Lidl.

Dielle Hannah, left, performs with the Igloo Choir at Mount Folly Nurseries, Wickham. The choir are having a taster day on August 21st where all are welcome Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 120821-30)

He said: ‘Without a shadow of a doubt, we have a laugh constantly. Prior to Covid, we had rehearsals on a Saturday, and cakes and things were brought out, which always helps!’

Bob said the choir is different to others, as they perform without the song sheets and compose the majority of their own music.

He referred to his fellow choir members as a ‘happy bunch’ and is very pleased to be part of the choir once more.

Another member, Carolyn Stallard from Hayling Island, said: ‘Singing together really is the tonic we needed over the last 18 months. I’ve been a member of the ‘Igloo family’ for 11 years and they’re a great bunch.’

The choir is currently seeking new members, and will be hosting an outdoor taster session at its studio at Mount Folly Nurseries in Wickham on Saturday, August 21. The choir also welcomes members of the public to make enquiries or book a taster session on their website at igloomusic.co.uk/.