Raise a cup in honour of choir’s dedicated sisters

Left to right: Martin Singers chairman Alan Strong, Pat Howard and Ester Heyhoe

Left to right: Martin Singers chairman Alan Strong, Pat Howard and Ester Heyhoe - Credit: Archant

Singing in a choir can be thirsty work. It is for this reason that two sisters have been saluted by their fellow singers.

Pat Howard and Ester Heyhoe have been members of the Martin Singers for more than three decades, and in this time, the sisters have provided an essential service to their colleagues; making the teas and coffees.

The Martin Singers was formed in 1983 by Martin Wyatt, as a choir for pensioners. They perform concerts throughout the year, and since 1984, the two sisters have been providing more than their vocal talents to the group. Tributes are now being paid to the pair, as they have decided to retire from these duties.

Mrs Heyhoe, 76, said: 'When we joined the choir back in 1984, there was nobody to make the drinks at rehearsals, so we decided to step up, and we've been doing it ever since.'

Mrs Howard, 78, added: 'We come from a very large family, including us there were 15 children in the family, so we're very used to making lots of cups of tea and coffee and remembering how everybody takes it.'

The pair estimate that in their time making the drinks for the singers, that they have made in excess of 2,000 cups of tea or coffee.

Alan Strong, chairman of the Martin Singers, said: 'For a volunteer organisation like ours where people simply turn up to sing, everybody assumed that everything just gets done. However, people like Pat and Ester are essential to us. They have become an institution for us over the years. People who volunteer to do these sort of things are like gold dust.'

Most Read

Mr Strong has been leading the tributes to the pair, organising a party in their honour, as well as penning alternative lyrics to Peter Ratcliffe's hymm Riding Out Across The Desert, dedicated to the sisters.

He added: 'The role they have played over the years has been vital. All of us in the choir think that Pat and Ester embody the choir and in their modest way, they make a contribution to the life of the city.'

The sisters can now look forward to getting more integrated in the more social side of the choir.

Mrs Howard said: 'Often we miss out on a lot of the socialising, because while everybody is chatting away, we're in the kitchen.'

Mrs Heyhoe added: 'We're both looking forward to a bit of leisure now, however, if our successors get in a muddle, we'll be there to lend a hand.'

Do you have a community story? Contact David Hannant on 01603 693892.