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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Salisbury Plain Military Wives Choir sings to MPs in London

It has been a varied first week back at work in the Army Headquarters. Monday and Tuesday were relatively slow days, doing vital admin, and catching up on 100 or so emails, on my work terminal, that arrived during my time away. Despite having an 'Out of Office' reply set, the emails still kept piling up.

As most of you know, I have been doing a lot of work in my leave with the Salisbury Plain Military Wives Choir. Now I was back to work, it was about time they got some official coverage from us at the Army News Team. With their schedule firmly imprinted in my diary, I set about going to London with them as they performed at the House of Commons and Portcullis House.

Outside the House of Commons

The choir had been invited by the MP for Devizes, Claire Perry. Claire covers Bulford, Tidworth and Larkhill within her constituency, and wanted to show her appreciation by inviting them to this special event. After a tour of The House of Commons, the choir got to sit in the gallery and watch a debate. Claire told us later on, that Mr Speaker commented on how they were the most glamorous spectators he has ever had in his gallery.

Once the tour was over, and a group shot was taken on the staircase in the Grand Hall, the ladies had some time to change and warm up for their performance.

The Grand Hall

Performing for the masses

Wherever You Are

The choir absolutely loved the day, and their performance was absolutely amazing. Despite hearing them sing quite a lot, the songs never bore me. In fact, I hear them get better every time they perform.

With 'Wherever You Are' being the most well known wives choir song, two of the ladies sung their hearts out for the crowd on the solo part, with the rest of the choir doing a great job behind them.

Sir Andrew Robotham 
Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans

Luckily, several of the Armed Forces Ministers were able to attend. Sir Andrew Robotham and Philip Hammond, The Secretary of State for Defence to name but a few. They were all totally in ore of these women, and spent time talking to them, and giving them praise for their hard work. They also commented on the vital support they give their husbands in such a career. I am proud to say that my wife is part of this amazing choir, and is she the most supportive person I know.

Philip Hammond watches the choir

With a few speeches done, there were just a few songs left. By this point, the crowd had grown somewhat, as more politicians finished work.

Philip Hammond addresses the choir

Philip Hammond then got invited by Claire Perry to say a few words. 

God Save The Queen

With the performance coming to an end, it just left the National Anthem to sing before heading home. Philip Hammond and Andrew Robotham were then invited to sing with the choir. With Andrew Robotham firmly within the choir ranks, and Philip Hammond stood with Claire Perry, it was quite an impressive rendition. The whole of Portcullis House were on their feet, singing along too. Spectacular.

After that it was time to pack up, interview all the people I needed for my story and catch the coach home. The day had been great. Very hot, but great. We were all sweating lots, but it was worth it. 

It was the next morning I got the story finished and published on the British Army website, along with a picture gallery on the Army Facebook page. Claire Perry has used the story in her constituency leaflet and the Salisbury Journal have published it too. Hopefully more people have used it by now, as it helps raise awareness of the choir and their good work.

Then it was all change! I had to quickly get my kit, drive to Longmore and photograph Number 1 Company, Irish Guards conduct riot training. This was in preparation for a future contingency role, in EU led peacekeeping missions and the Olympic security. Quite a variation for my first week back eh? 

Military Wives to Riots! Brilliant!

More from me soon.

Steve (@CombatPhot)