What should have been the annual meeting of Saltash Ladies Choir was actually a meeting to inform members of the closure of the choir after 75 years.

Chairman Sheila Smith, who had been also acting as secretary for the past two years, said that due to the fact that nobody from the choir had come forward to fill the vacancies of secretary and treasurer, it was with great regret that the committee had decided that the choir could no longer continue under these circumstances and according to the choir’s constitution.

The meeting held at Burraton Church premises on Wednesday, March 29 was a shock and sad occasion for the choir members.

Mrs Smith said that it was also due to the added fact that, like many other choirs throughout the country, younger people were not joining similar choirs.

Formed in 1948, the choir was started by the late Betty Pawley, a local schoolteacher, who also started Saltash Male Voice Choir in the 1960’s.

Saltash Ladies Choir competed and won awards in many music festivals and gave concerts all over the country.

They also broadcast on BBC radio.

In January 1960, they gave a concert at Saltash Wesley Church hall and the Mayor at that time Alderman W H T Stanlake, said the choir had become one of the well- known institutions in Saltash, raising funds for many charities.

That concert raised money for the World Refugee funds.

President of Saltash Ladies Choir for the past 35 years, Sue Hooper, also Freeman of Saltash and former Town Mayor, expressed her sorrow about the closure and speaking of the choir’s long history and achievements, said: “The Saltash Ladies Choir formed a few years after WW2 to cushion the effects of the scourge of War, and over the past 75 years has been a well-respected and much loved choir, locally, regionally and nationally.

“I have been honoured to have been president of the choir for almost 35 years under the musical directorship of the late Sylvia Screech and for the past 25 years Linda Eastlake.

“The choir has been steadfast in its aims to sing together, and to promote awareness and appreciation of ladies’ choir singing, arranging and performing in hundreds of concerts to benefit local and worthy charities; in doing so, raising and distributing over £70,000.

“Some of the highlights of the choir have been to sing at the Royal Albert Hall in London as part of the ‘Festivals of Brass and Voice’, and raising money for Cancer Research, of which I was humbled to have attended on those occasions.

“On a personal note, I have been honoured to have platformed the choir at the Sue Hooper Charitable Foundation concerts featuring HM Royal Marines Band, Cornwall Police Choir, Plymouth Area Police Choir and the Radio Light Orchestra which was staged at Trematon Hall.

“Furthermore, the Ladies Choir has performed with the Band of the US Air Force and Central Band of the Russian White Army, in addition, the Tokyo Mandolin Orchestra at St Andrew’s Church, in Plymouth, of which I was proud to have compered in 1992.

“In addition, the ladies choir has brought many choirs to Saltash, giving the community such enjoyment and appreciation of music at its best, such as Liskerret Male Voice Choir, Plymouth Area Police Choir, Clarion Male Voice Choir and the Wantage Choir to name but a few.

“Moreover, the choir has won several trophies in various music festivals in Devon and Cornwall, and also taken part in Saltash Mayfairs, Saltash Christmas Festivals, and the Saltash VE/VJ commemorations in 2005.

“Saltash Ladies Choir were the first choir to sing ‘When the World is Free’, written by the late BBC organist Dudley Savage, who lived in Saltash.”

Sue went on to praise the choir and its Director of Music Linda Eastlake. In addition, Sue praised the committee officers and members, highlighting all their individual tasks.

She went on to say that it is such commitment over the past 75 years that has kept the wonderful Saltash Ladies Choir afloat, and thanked them most passionately, one and all.

As a reporter for the Cornish Times since 1960 and Freeman of Saltash, I was honoured to be made a Vice President of Saltash Ladies Choir in 2009 so extended my connections with the Choir, attending and continuing reporting on their concerts and other events.

Since the beginning of the choir in 1948, I have enjoyed their music under the directorship of Betty Pawley, Sylvia Screech and Linda Eastlake, with their accompanists.

On a personal note, It was an honour when the choir sang one of my musical Christmas carol compositions at a concert in St Stephen’s Church, Saltash, several years ago.

So at the end of an era and the sad closure of the choir, I join with so many to thank them for the music of 75 years, which has been a joy and a privilege to be associated with and a friend of Saltash Ladies Choir. We will miss them and their music.