Worrall MVC – The Joy of Christmas

 

On leaving New Mill Club, take the A616 Sheffield road to The Flouch and on to Stocksbridge, Deepcar and Oughtibridge. The summer floods have collapsed the road beyond and you are diverted up the hill past the church and left arising after about a further mile into the village of Worrall. Thus this quiet hilltop village has albeit temporarily become the route to Sheffield for traffic from Manchester and Huddersfield. This to the elderly villages provider a major topic of discussion an discontent second only to their ongoing concerns for The Wednesday.

In July 1970 I married Delia, a Worraller, and we set up our first home on TopRoad in Worrall where enjoyed views over Codds farm silage pit towards High Bradfield. In September of that year 13 men met in Worrall Independent Chapel to form Worrall MVC who were to be our guests at our October concert in St Paul’s.

Positioned betwixt the village’s two pubs, the chapel has been the home of the choir ever since where they practice each Monday and Friday evening. By the 1980’s this well-structured choir had become a charity and the young choir gained a sound reputation at concerts, coming first in a number of competitions. Now able to hold their place with their more illustrious neighbours of Grenoside and Bolsterstone MVC’s. In 1987 became the first English choir to win the Cornish Open Championship, formerly the exclusive preserve of Cornishmen.

In the late 80’s the choir was very much involved in fundraising to restore the Lyceum, a fine old theatre in Sheffield’s Tudor Square whose acoustics are very much appreciated by the choir. In 1992 the choir, along with the James Shepherd Versatile Brass, gave the first choral performance at the reopened theatre in 1995 celebrating their Silver Anniversary in concert at the Lyceum Theatre.

Worrall MVC has been keen to foster amateur music making in other fields, developing links with Bradfield Comprehensive School. These enable this rural school’s choristers and musicians to join the choir’s performances under the ‘Developing Musical Life’ initiative. For it’s part in this in 1999 the choir was awarded one of 22 regional awards sponsored by The National Federation of Music Societies in conjunction with The Arts Council and British Telecom.

Perhaps the choir’s greatest achievement took place in 2003, winning The Welsh Association of Male Voice Choirs Choir-of-the-Year competition, beating twelve other choirs in the process. Incidentally one of the adjudicators for this event was Mark Stuart-Burrows who tells of the flack he had to take from fellow welshmen in making the award to this ‘small non-Welsh choir’.

This hard working choir undertakes around 35 engagements a year including weddings, after-dinner shows, major concerts and to keep its members on their toes, competitions. Most choirs are active around Christmas time, this particularly applies to Worrall. The village itself is in the heart of those hill top villages to the North West of Sheffield where for generations tradition has held that the carols are sung in the six week period prior to Christmas. In1982 the choir published ‘The Joy of Christmas’ incorporating many of these local carols. This book has sold in its thousands not just in the locality but in America and Australia to South Yorkshire folk settled there. 2002 saw the choir publish a second edition of it’s now famous ‘Blue Book’ of Christmas Carols.

The choir has developed contacts with a number of male voice choirs around Britain thus enabling them to

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