Blackpool school pupils bounce back from lockdown to win choir competition

Pupils from a Blackpool school have bounced back from lockdown disappointment by winning a top county choir competition.

By Tim Gavell
Sunday, 10th July 2022, 3:45 pm

The youngsters from Norbreck Primary Academy triumphed in The Last Choir Singing Competition which has resumed for the first time since the pandemic restrictions.

The youngsters had made it through the heats of that competition in 2019 and had also won through to perform on TV in the BBC in the Choir of the Year competition, when lockdown cut short their dreams.

But now they have bounced back to win in a spectacular show in front of parents at Blackburn’s St Georges Hall, beating nine other schools in the final, sponsored by David Wilson Homes.

David Wilson Home sponsored The Last Choir Singing competition at King George’s Hall in Blackburn where Norbreck Primary Academy, came out as winners

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Headteacher Karen McCarter, who has run the school choir at Norbreck for ten years, said: “We mange every year to get to national standard and sing in the Barnardo’s National Choral Competition, putting us in the top 18 junior choirs in the country. We sing in two part harmony.

"They are talented, hard working, dedicated, and lovely children, who want to be the best they can be. We all love singing and making music. We don’t every expect to win, but we do work incredibly hard.

"There were so many schools there who put on wonderful performances, everyone does something unique, so to be chosen was an absolute honour.

The Last Choir Singing competition at King George’s Hall in Blackburn

She said the children practice three times a week, with 28, aged 8 to 11, taking part in the competition.

They sang two songs - a set song that all choirs had to sing and one they chose themselves, which was composer Bob Chilcott’s Can You Hear Me.

“They loved it, especially being called back to sing again as the winners. We had four children singing with tears of joy running down their faces!

"Like so many other people, the children had lost so much due to the pandemic. In early 2020 we had competed in a national choral competition and made it through to the top six in the country and were set to sing on TV for the BBC Choir of the Year competition.

Winners of The Last Choir Singing competition- Norbreck Primary Academy

"The weekend we were due to go was the weekend before we went into the complete shutdown, and so the BBC cancelled it. And we had won the heats of the Last Choir Singing and due to go to the finals, but that was cancelled too.

"So for us to win this time was phenomenal! I would like to thank the children and their parents for their wonderful support.”

The competition, which was founded in 2015 by local businessman, George Critchley, was sadly postponed over the past two years due to pandemic.

A total of 16 schools entered the competition. From the three heats that followed, three schools from each were chosen to go to the final competition, as well as a wildcard school to round the entries up to 10.

As well as with sponsorship from David Wilson Homes, the competition is run in partnership with The Lancashire Music Hub, Blackburn and Darwen Music Hub.

They won a day in a professional recording studio to record their winning songs.

Jayne Raven, project co-ordinator at The Last Choir Singing Competition, said: “We are very grateful to David Wilson Homes for its support. The plan was to have the company as the headline sponsor in 2020, but sadly the competition could not proceed due to COVID, so it was great to have them be the main sponsor of this year’s county final winners trophy.”

Rob Holbrook, managing director of David Wilson Homes North West, said: “We are so pleased that The Last Choir Singing Competition has been able to proceed this year. It is a delightful competition that showcases the incredibly talented children of Lancashire.”