Sidmouth Songsters’ last tune after �47k charity haul

THE all singing Sidmouth Songsters, whose concerts have raised �47,000 for local charities since the group was formed 19 years ago, has sung its last song.

They were all in particularly fine voice for their swansong last week before a capacity Living With Cancer (LWC) audience at Lymebourne Community Centre, writes Kingsley Squire.

But their farewell after so many years was, inevitably, a sad occasion, especially for its leader, Joan Ridley.

She was visibly moved when LWC founder Bill Lankester paid tribute to the group whose performances in Sidmouth and the wider area have entertained so many hotel guests and local people over the years.

“It is tragedy you are finishing,” he said. “We are so sorry. You have done a wonderful job in raising so much money for charity. The town and the area is indebted to all of you. You are going to be so missed.”

The decision to close the Songsters, founded by Mrs Ridley in 1993, was taken after Frank Hayward and his wife, Freddi, who compiled and distributed the concert programmes, resigned for health reasons.

A letter to members said: “As we have no one to fill the gap left by Frank leaving and after consultation with other members who I felt might step in, but to no avail, I have decided that we have no alternative but to finish.”

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Mrs Ridley especially thanked the couple, narrator and leading soloist John Brindley and the group pianist, Nancye Barnes, adding her thanks to all the group for their support and friendship over so many years.

Mrs Ridley, who was presented with flowers by LWC president Lynne Maxwell, concluded: “I know I shall miss the concerts and the rehearsals.”