Photo gallery: Aylsham choir to call it a day after 41 years

Bure Valley Singers performing at a wedding in 1996.

Bure Valley Singers performing at a wedding in 1996. - Credit: Archant

They have entertained countless thousands of people for decades with their songs, spirituals and verse.

But, after 41 years of concerts across Norfolk, the members of Bure Valley Singers have decided to call it a day.

Despite trying hard to continue in recent years, a combination of the lack of a musical director and accompanist, falling numbers and ageing members has put paid to the popular Aylsham-based choir.

Now, as the choir counts down to closure, a 'last hurrah' is being planned, with past and present members urged to help it go out with a final burst of song.

Choir secretary Mike Downes said the closure decision was 'overwhelmingly' taken at the recent annual meeting.

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He said: 'Recently we've had problems recruiting a musical director and an accompanist, following the retirement of Barbara Downes and a short term musical director who left.

'Also, the choir is getting older and we are finding difficulty in recruiting new members.'

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He added: 'Initially we thought about finishing a year ago on our 40th birthday. But we decided to keep going. As time went on, it became obvious that we weren't going to find people easily.

'There is a great deal of sadness as for some members the choir is a large part of their social life.'

Bure Valley Singers was set up in 1972 by Chris Pike, who is a partner in an architectural design practice based at Cromer, and others from in and around Aylsham who had a keen interest in singing.

The choir has sung at numerous concerts and other events since then, with highlights including its joint concerts with King's Lynn Male Voice Choir and singing at a wedding in 1996.

Two of the founder members, Sid Hudson and Bill Pask, are still in its ranks today.

In a letter to members and supporters, Mr Downes said: 'We are not going out on a negative note. There will be a final concert and buffet for members, partners, past members, friends and choir supporters on November 26 at the Jubilee Centre in Aylsham 6.30pm for a 7pm start.

'An excellent buffet will be available in the interval and we hope there will be a chance to sing all our old favourites. A few solo items will stir the memories as well.'

He added: 'The cost to guests will be a maximum of £10 to be confirmed at a later date. In order to simplify matters, we are suggesting that all who attend should bring their own drinks and glasses. We so hope you will be able to join us.'

There will be a series of rehearsals on November 5, 12 and 19, from 7-8.30pm at Cawston Road Chapel, Aylsham.

They will be led by former musical director Ron Sallis and former accompanist Mrs Downes.

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