New community choir makes its official debut at packed North Walsham Christmas craft fair

Some of the members of the new North Walsham Community Choir, with director Joseph Ballard, at their

Some of the members of the new North Walsham Community Choir, with director Joseph Ballard, at their first official public performance. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A community choir formed in the spring sang its heart out at its first official public performance.

North Walsham Community Choir members trilled their way through an Abba medley and Christmas favourites in the town's Atrium at a packed festive craft fair.

The choristers even sang Happy Birthday, with harmonies, to the surprise of their musical director, Joseph Ballard, who was celebrating his 33rd birthday on the day of the event.

Some 1,600 braved hail, high winds and a smattering of snow to visit the fair which also included a display by children from Smallburgh-based troupe Dance4Fun.

And folk trio Threescore also entertained with music.

Mr Ballard, director of Arts North Norfolk which organised the event, said the choir had launched in May with 15 members but now boasted an average of 55 at weekly Tuesday rehearsals in The Atrium, from 7pm-8.15pm.

'At the moment we do slow rock and songs from the 1960s to the 1980s but from January we're going to be doing world music, including African songs,' he added.

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'We do upbeat songs. People love it. It's an hour and a bit for themselves once a week.

We stop for tea and cake which makes it a social, fun event too.'

The choir did make a surprise public appearance in October when they staged a flashmob performance in North Walsham's Sainsbury's store, bursting into their Abba medley in the fruit and veg aisles, according to Mr Ballard.

Among other attractions at the fair was a large sale of books about the area, or written by local authors, organised by Bob White of the town's Showcase Gallery.

Norfolk author, broadcaster and entertainer Keith Skipper, and Colin Reeve, who wrote the Little Red Tractor books on which a children's TV favourite of the same name is based, signed their books at the stall.

And local archivist Brian Hedge gave a slide show and talk about North Walsham entitled Magical Memories of our Market Town.

A singalong screening of Disney favourite Frozen, with children invited to wear fancy dress, was also a popular draw.

Some 28 stalls selling locally-produced goods and crafts included art works by artist Justine Williamson, from nearby Ridlington, and Portuguese specialities from North Walsham-based Chelb Artisan Bakes.

Mr Ballard thanked volunteers who had made the event possible.

The Atrium is now gearing up for its Christmas panto production, Pinocchio and the Pirates, from December 19-23. Visit: artsnorthnorfolk.org or ring 01692 218060.