About the Choir
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The choir was formed in March 1978 when a group of some twenty five police officers and one civilian police employee met at Kent Police Headquarters for an inaugural meeting with the late Gerry Hughes, then a serving officer. Shortly before Christmas 1977, Gerry had been present with the Chief Constable Barry Pain QPM, at a concert given by the Kent Police Band which also featured the West Midlands Police Choir. Gerry had remarked 'We could do as well as that in Kent' and he was given tacit permission to form a police choir.
Following its formation, the choir appeared successfully for around four years under Gerry's leadership and the baton was then passed to David Vening who developed the choir superbly over some twenty eight years. David retired from the choir in December 2010 and the choir is now conducted by Martin Rendle, a music professional and singing teacher from Kent's Thanet area.
In 1988 our accompanist Heather Baker left the choir and was replaced by not one, but two pianists. The services of the highly qualified Wendy Heaton, were complemented by those of Ann Parnham, another talented music teacher. This duo was created in order that one accompanist would always be available and the system worked splendidly, with the ladies also playing piano duets at many concerts. Ann has now moved to Cumbria and Wendy retired from the choir in December 2010. The choir is now accompanied by Karen Barton-Holman, an accomplished professional pianist and peripatetic music teacher, from the Boughton Monchelsea area. Karen joined the choir in January 2011.
The choir these days has forty eight singing members and extends a warm invitation for potential members to be accompanied at a rehearsal on any Thursday evening, at Kent Police Headquarters in Maidstone.
We perform for charitable causes all over Kent and the choir has travelled frequently to Wales, Cornwall, Suffolk, Sussex and mainland Europe. It has visited Germany as guests of the towns of Kobern-Gondorf, Saarbrucken, Monschau, Waltrop (twinned with Herne Bay), Sonsbeck (twinned with Sandwich) and Bad Munstereifel (twinned with Ashford). Visits with our wives and partners have also been made to Nijmegen in the Netherlands.
Memorable events for the choir have been its appearances twice at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the 'Festival of Police Choirs', singing with some ten thousand choristers at Cardiff Arms Park together with Shirley Bassey and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, making an appearance on Sir Harry Secombe's 'Highway' television programme, singing on BBC local radio for 'Children in Need' and many more.
Perhaps for many members and their families, singing on three occasions at the 'Last Post' ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, were the most moving occasions of all. A packed, hushed crowd at these ceremonies were clearly moved and entranced by the choir's performance of pieces such as 'Crimond' and 'Steal Away'.
Finally, our sincere thanks go to the long suffering wives, sweethearts, partners and families who give us such tremendous support.