Where it all started…
The Military WAGS Choir is based in Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire. When it first started in 2010, the choir was predominantly made up of wives of serving soldiers. More recently it has welcomed service women, affiliated MOD support staff and a mother of three boys, two in the army of which one is currently in Afghanistan. The usual understanding of WAGS (wives and girlfriends) has been given a re-vamp; these WAGS are Wives, Affiliates, Girlfriends and Service-women! Our spouses are attached to the following regiments: 1 Lancs, 1 Mercian, Royal Dragoon Guards, 1 Scots Guards, Queen’s Royal Lancers, Para Regt, Royal Army Medical Corps, Royal Signals, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, and RAF.
The Military WAGS Choir was the genius idea of Nicky Clarke. Together with Caroline Jopp (both spouses of serving members of 1 Scots Guards) they formed a choir for the wives and girlfriends of 4th Mechanised Brigade who deployed to Afghanistan in April 2010. They both wanted to offer the women of the community a weekly outlet to have fun; to get together once a week and work towards something they could do not only for personal enjoyment but also to boost morale both in camp and out in Afghanistan (BFBS transmitted a recording of the choir singing as well as messages to loved ones.) They decided to offer a crèche facility to enable the women some ‘time off’ especially during deployment and long training periods as families and help are often far away. Nicky and the Catterick Garrison WAGS Choir inspired Gareth Malone for the hit series The Choir: Military Wives.
The Military Wives Choir Foundation
A percentage from the sales of the recent In My Dreams album is going to The Military Wives Choirs Foundation, which is being established to enable women throughout our Forces Community to set up and run their own Choirs. The aim of the Foundation is to build and co-ordinate a network of choirs so that wives, girlfriends, service women and mums can always benefit from the support, friendship and fun that being part of a choir brings. Since January 2012, the Foundation has already quickly grown from supporting 5 military wives choirs to more than 40. They are located on military bases around the UK and in British Forces Germany and Cyprus and are at various stages of development. New choirs are springing up every week.
The MWCF will be a subsidiary charity of SSAFA, one of the two beneficiaries of the No1 single ‘Wherever You Are’, the other being the Royal British Legion.
We’ve seen both a single and album from the Military Wives hit the top of the charts, to performances at a variety of events and indeed for Her Majesty the Queen. 10 of the Choirs are now represented on the Commonwealth Song for Diamond Jubilee (see post on 22nd May) “Sing” will be released on 28th May, so let’s get them to the top of the charts again!
Recently, Salisbury Plain Military Wives Choir were invited to sing at the House of Commons; here’s a snippet.
There’s more to come!
Lympstone Military Wives Choir are to perform for The Queen. See more at http://t.co/nAJ1xTrZ
Dishforth Military Wives Choir are to perform at the North East Lincolnshire Tattoo. Further information at http://www.nelincs.gov.uk/events/details/874/
Chivenor Military Wives Choir will be joining Russell Watson on stage at both his Royal Albert Hall shows on June 2nd. More at http://www.russell-watson.com/?country_id=-1&skin=2
Catterick Military WAGS Choir forthcoming performances:
23rd June 2012 Stirling Military Show, Stirling, Scotland
24th June 2012 Lincolnshire Military Tattoo, Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire
(also featuring Dishforth Military Wives Choir)
30th June 2012 Armed Forces Day, Ripon, North Yorkshire
19th July 2012 End of Term Concert, Richmond, North Yorkshire
22nd September 2012 Salute Our Heroes Concert, The Sage, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
(featuring Heavy Cavalry & Cambrai Band and other performers)