MILITARY wives choirs are well-known for offering companionship and support to the partners of servicemen across the country.
Now Winchester has its very own, which started in January and has seen almost 30 members already sign up, and the Chronicle had the chance of a sneak preview inside the rehearsal room.
The practise room of the Band and Bugles of the Rifles at Army Training Regiment, on Andover Road, may be tucked away on the corner of the campus, but that doesn’t take away from the huge impact it so clearly has on the lives of the military wives who go there.
Dawn Devereux, a civilian instructor in the Royal Air Force who originally joined a military wives choir in Aldershot, is responsible for the birth of this new group, and said she started it after applying for a job on site.
“When I said that I was in the choir they said that they were trying to start one here, and would I help them,” she said.
“Being in a military wives choir is all about the fun of it. It’s about being together and having that companionship – most of us have been through lots of things because we have all been married to service personnel, so it is knowing what it’s like being apart and being able to come somewhere for a couple of hours a week to forget it all.
“You know that there are people that have experienced the same thing that you have, and you can share those experiences and know the support is there.”
The musical director, Major Lawrence Sale, is also regional director of music for the southern region of Army bands in the UK, and said the choir is an opportunity for women to feel part of the work their partners do.
He said: “It makes that link between the people that support us at home and those of us here in the military.
“It’s nice to do something that bridges that gap, and for me it’s an honour really.”
The Military Wives Choirs Foundation is a network of choirs that reaches the whole military community to bring women closer together through singing. It is a registered subsidiary charity of SSAFA Forces Help and helps provide guidance, funding and support for individual choirs, as well as the opportunity to bring choirs together through national projects.
“You don’t have to talk about your experiences if you don’t want to - it’s just about knowing somebody cares,” Dawn said.