Bolsterstone Male Voice Choir

Bolsterstone Male Voice Choir has been described as England’s largest village choir. Born in St Mary’s Parish Church in 1934, it has grown into a choir of international reputation with an array of trophies on show in its headquarters, the Castle Inn, next door to the church where it all started.

The choir is proud to be a co-presenter of the Valley Festival and it is particularly fitting that the Bolsterstone Male Voice Choir Raymond English trophy is awarded to the most promising young performer, or performers, at the annual event. A main thrust of the festival is to encourage young musicians – and Raymond English, who died in 2018 aged 92, was a keen supporter of young talent during his 55 years of distinguished membership of the choir.

The story of Bolsterstone Male Voice Choir is a remarkable one: from humble beginnings, the choir went on to twice win the International Eisteddfod, then the world’s leading choral competition. The choir has undertaken concert and competition tours to South Africa, Denmark, Italy, Germany, Malta, Greece, Rhodes, the Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Hungary and the Netherlands. Last year the choir made its fourth appearance in 20 years at the International Music Festival in Bangor, Northern Ireland, at which the choir in performances over two days received its warmest audience reception in many years, including a standing ovation. There was a great blow when a long-planned trip to northern Italy in April to take part in the old-established International Verona Music Festival had to be called off shortly before Italy went into coronavirus lockdown.

There is a great feel-good factor in the choir, a most encouraging state to be in after 85 years of existence, and members are keen to get back together again once the virus restrictions are eased. The warm responses from audiences at recent concerts are a great tribute to our music director, Daniel Timmins, deputy MD Francis Wells and accompanist Kim Kaye. Daniel, who also conducts Thurgoland Community Choir and Fox Valley Voices, took the helm two years ago in a friendly change of roles with Fran, his former music teacher at King Edward VII School in Sheffield, who had conducted the choir with distinction for 22 years. At the same time, after a remarkable, flawless and distinguished 34 years’ service at the piano, Lorraine Pearson retired from the choir but has not severed her links with the choir, helping us out when she can. Kim, who has great rapport with Daniel,is also the resident accompanist with us, Marsh Ladies’ Choir and Holme Valley Youth Choir as well as directing the Holme Valley Singers and the Kirklees Choir (formerly Huddersfield U3A).

Bolsterstone Male Voice Choir is always busy giving concerts and raising money for charity and enjoys considerable support from the local community, and over a much wider area, from enthusiastic concertgoers and is lucky to have loyal sponsors, including Bradfield Brewery, Dransfield Properties, PA Jewellery, GenFab, the Joseph Sheldon Trust and the Bridge.

Former chairman Frank Milnes, a choir member for 55 years, joining from the St Mary’s church choir as a teenager, has produced a huge Powerpoint archive of the choir’s activities which has taken him several years and which is still being added to. Frank has now produced a shorter version in video format (link below) which charts the choir’s main achievements from its formation in 1934 to the present day.
It is a really fascinating watch.

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More details about the choir, including a full history, can be seen on our Website: