Debbie Price & Gareth Malone
Debbie Price, founder, with Gareth Malone

Colchester Military Wives Choir was established in July 2012 when three ladies – Debbie Price, (Military Wife) Liz Mullen (BFBS radio) and Sally Leung (Headteacher, Montgomery Infant School) – met.   The get-together was finally brought about by Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell after being contacted by The Military Wives.  After witnessing a performance of the Salisbury Plain Military Wives Choir at the House of Commons, he too thought it would be great to have such a choir from the Colchester Garrison.

Liz Mullen, presenter of Colchester Garrison Radio had been aware that soldier’s wife Debbie Price was seeking to establish a Military Wives Choir and had already put the wheels in motion with both canvassing and promoting the idea, but was without anyone to act as Musical Director. A few days later, while watching a concert to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee staged by Colchester Operatic Society, Sir Bob had a “Eureka” moment when he saw Sally Leung performing……for he knew that she was not only Head Teacher of the Montgomery Infants School, where the majority of children come from Army families, but that each year she organised a concert for Colchester schools – and thus he felt she was the ideal person the fledgling Choir was looking for.

Sir Bob recalled: “After the Jubilee concert I spoke to Sally, and explained my hopes of there being a Military Wives Choir in Colchester and asked if she might be in a position to be its musical director. The beaming smile on her face was an immediate ‘yes’. I then put her in touch with Debbie and Liz. They met. And very quickly the Colchester Military Wives Choir was in full swing. I am so proud of them.

“I was delighted that in November last year, on the Wednesday before Remembrance Sunday, the Choir performed at the House of Commons having previously laid a wreath in the Field of Poppies outside Westminster Abbey.”

“There was a full performance in the Atrium of Portcullis House, and then they sang ‘You Raise Me Up’ from the steps inside the historic setting of Westminster Hall where HM The Queen had earlier in the year addressed both Houses of Parliament to mark her Diamond Jubilee. Those who heard the choir, in both settings, were deeply impressed and moved.”

Being part of the choir encourages people to talk and new friendships are born. The weekly rehearsals are something for the wives to look forward to and also created a support network which gives them people to turn to when they need a shoulder or friendly face.

We now have approx 40 members and the choir is an incredibly fun activity to be involved with. We meet on a weekly basis to sing a variety of old and new songs, have a gossip with our friends and neighbours and take some well earned time-out from our family life.