Delight in Norfolk as Military Wives’ Choir is named Christmas Number One

Chart topper Madeline Brown got a Christmas present she will never forget when she and her fellow members of the Military Wives Choir were confirmed as the festive number one.

The 32-year-old nurse - who grew up in Fakenham - was back in her home county with family to toast her place at the top of the charts with the poignant song Wherever You Are.

Just minutes after the news was confirmed live to millions of viewers at the end of the Christmas Day Top Of The Pops show, Madeline spoke to the EDP said: 'It feels bizarre and is still sinking in! We are so thankful for everyone who has bought the single and even though it is number one we still want people to keep buying it to help the charity,'

Madeline, who now lives in Devon with her husband Andrew, four-year-old son, Addison, and 18-month old daughter, Libby-Mae, spent Christmas Day in Pudding Norton, near Fakenham, with her mum Rita Blythe, step dad Andy, her sister Sarah Wick, who lives at Bodham, near Holt, and Sarah's husband Chris and daughter Olivia, 16 months.

The single sold 556,000 copies in the last week, more than the rest of the top 12 combined, the Official Charts Company said.

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It beat Little Mix - the first time an X Factor winner has been overtaken at Christmas since 2004.

Madeline said even though it had been hot favourite to top the chart, they hadn't been certain until it was announced.

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'As it got closer and closer it seemed more possible but there was always that little doubt,' said Madeline, who chatted on Facebook to other members of the choir after the news was confirmed.

'There were lots of 'wows' from the girls!' she said.

Gareth Malone formed the 100-strong group for the BBC2 programme The Choir, which climaxed with the group performing at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.

Proceeds from the single are being donated to the Royal British Legion and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA).

Madeline said: 'It is brilliant and the personal achievement is there and I never thought I would be number one. But it is brilliant for the charity and brilliant for the men and women in the forces as it shows they are appreciated and that the nation is thinking of them.'

Madeline attended school in Fakenham and college in King's Lynn before studying nursing at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

She was working at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge when she met Andrew, with the Army's 24 Commando Engineer Regiment, while he was on leave having just returned from Iraq.

They married in 2005 and moved to a military base at Chivenor, in Devon, three years later.

Madeline first heard that Gareth Malone, himself a UEA graduate, would be starting a choir at the base just before Christmas last year and was encouraged by Andrew to go along to the first session in February.

Mr Malone was thrilled at being number one.

'This is so surreal. Who would have guessed in those first rehearsals that we could take Christmas Number 1?

'It's testament to the Military Wives' hard work and the nation's support of them, as well as the power of choral singing.

'It's a winning combination - a Christmas Number 1 winning combination! Thank you to the British public for supporting the Royal British Legion and SSAFA Forces Help by buying this single.'

Official Charts Company managing director Martin Talbot said: 'This truly is an extraordinary result for Gareth and his choir - easily now the fastest selling record for years. They extended their lead day by day and have been breaking records as they go.'

Lyrics for the song were taken from a poem compiled from letters to and from the servicemen and their wives on a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.

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