Community choir emerges to support those battling the drought

SPECIAL: The Parkes Community Choir took on a pretty special gig on October 30 - singing the French national anthem at the rugby league match between France and Western Rams at Jock Colley Field. Photo: Christine Little
SPECIAL: The Parkes Community Choir took on a pretty special gig on October 30 - singing the French national anthem at the rugby league match between France and Western Rams at Jock Colley Field. Photo: Christine Little

For those who don't know, Parkes has a community choir.

It is also completely free to join and no one has to know how to sing to become a member.

Believe it or not, its humble beginning arose from last year's Parkes Shire Drought Forum on September 11 after Parkes Shire Council received $1 million in drought relief funding.

Kerrie Peden attended that meeting at the Parkes Services Club with a proposal to start a community choir open to anyone in the shire.

"I had a few councillors who represent the arts on my table [that night] and they also took it to a council meeting," Kerrie said.

"Research tells us that singing is wonderful for our well being, mental health and our general health.

"There hasn't been a general community choir in my living memory - there was a big men's group going back 40 years or something so some people have been waiting 30 years for this.

"Council offered us the old community centre, and now the new centre, free of charge."

One of the biggest aims of the choir, Kerrie said, was that it was free.

"We didn't want to charge any money, it seems you have to pay for everything these days. We didn't want that stress," she said.

"I've fought hard to maintain that, I don't want people to have to think about money.

"There are also no auditions - anyone can come along if they want to.

"You don't even have to know how to sing.

"It's for everybody."

Kerrie wasn't sure how many would turn up for the choir's first rehearsal night.

"We put 20 chairs out but then we had to put another group of chairs out," she said of the numbers.

"We were very surprised."

There is now an organising committee, operating under the umbrella of council, and Kerrie said their numbers continue to increase.

The choir has more than 70 members from a range of age groups on its books.

The choir's biggest expense is buying the songs they'd like to sing because of the copyright licence, but thanks to a Northparkes Mines grant last year they've been able to cover themselves until they need to apply for another grant.

The Parkes Community Choir, on October 19 this year, celebrated its first anniversary and just two weeks after that members took on a pretty special gig - to sing the French national anthem prior to the rugby league match between the touring French side and the Western Rams at Jock Colley Field on October 30.

Since forming, members have performed at the 2018 Christmas pageant, the 2019 Elvis Festival Gospel Service, Seniors Week luncheon, Holy Framily Primary School's Easter markets, Parkes Reading Day and the Southern Cross fete.

They also performed at the New Harmonies Community Concert alongside the Parkes Shire Concert Band, tapestry and children's choir.

"That was our first formal event (the New Harmonies Concert)," Kerrie said.

"We're big on supporting the community."

The choir meets at the new Community Centre at the old hospital grounds in Rose Street every Thursday during Weeks 1-8 of the school term from 7pm-8.30pm.

Kerrie said there are plans to extend the weeks in 2020.

Everyone is welcome.

You can find the Parkes Community Choir on Facebook here.

ALSO MAKING NEWS:

What do you think?