OAP choir hits the right note with locals

The Senior Citizens Choir at South Leith Parish Church Hall are hoping to welcome new, younger members. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach

The Senior Citizens Choir at South Leith Parish Church Hall are hoping to welcome new, younger members. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach

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It all started when a group of pensioners on a bus outing ­began to sing on the way home.

One of them thought the musical offering was so good that he suggested they form a choir – which is exactly what happened.

Those founding members of the Leith-based group could not have imagined – four decades on – that they would still be performing across the ­Lothians, never mind winning awards for its work.

Now, celebrating 40 years together, the Leith Senior Citizens Choir boasts a host of ­accolades, the latest being a ­Pillars of Leith award, handed to the group by Sir Tom Farmer in recognition of its community work.

But according to members, the real highlight is bringing pleasure to people and awakening memories in an audience.

Kenneth Macrae, 79, who joined 19 years ago, said: “The high point for me is singing happy music and seeing other folk enjoy themselves. Singing to an older group, in particular, brings back memories for them. It’s nostalgic.”

The choir traditionally opens with the Harry Lauder classic It’s a Fine Thing to Sing, ­finishing with Good Luck, Good Health, God Bless.

But their repertoire also ­includes a Scottish section, Irish songs, religious numbers and well-known older songs.

The group comprises 19 members aged over 70, but it has now revealed plans to lower its 60-plus entry requirement to 55 to swell its dwindling ranks. The youngest member is 72-year-old Margaret Gray while their oldest is 86-year-old Marjory Russell.

Secretary Eleanore Smith, who has been a member for three years, said: “I think it’s fantastic that it has been kept going for 40 years with different people. But suddenly there are very few left and we need new members to keep it going.”

Those who wish to join do not have to be able to read music or even have a strong voice, just a love of singing.

The group, which rehearses in South Leith Parish Church Halls is particularly keen to attract new male members. And it already has at least one new prospect waiting in the wings – Dougie Ratcliffe, 72, of Leith.

He said: “I used to sing when I was younger and this choir seems to be a good fit. This is ideal and they have all been very friendly and welcoming.”

The group’s next performance will be at Dalkeith Baptist Church on Monday, January 26.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com