Our sincerest thanks to Lorna Harris, Joyce James and Diane Martin for their research assistance.
The Springfield Singers were founded by Jean Morgan in 1976 under the name 'The Springfield Young Wives Choir.' Despite popular belief, the title Springfield came from the name of the street Jean lived in at the time, not the Springfield Methodist Church, where the group rehearsed on Monday evenings. The choir were given a Rogers upright piano for rehearsals in the schoolroom, but later moved upstairs into the chapel itself. The first accompanist was Chris Day.
Not content with a small ensemble, Jean expanded the group and changed the name to 'The Springfield Ladies Choir.' An advert was placed at a local school for a pianist, and at just 16, Diane Wintle (née Diane James) was offered the post of official accompanist in 1985 and came in from Gloucester. In 1987, Hayley Teague stepped in as a deputy accompanist.
Choir members were now coming in from a 15-mile radius, a few of who came from the Lydcroft Singers after it disbanded in the late 70s.
Hitting the high notes
The choir's success grew at a phenomenal rate and Springfield quickly became recognised as a choir of high musical ability. They travelled widely, giving numerous concerts for charity and achieved success at prestigious competition venues in cities such as Bath, Bristol, Cheltenham and Herefordshire, in one year winning no fewer than five first prizes. In 1996 the choir gave a concert at Woolaston church with esteemed professional violinist Yossi Zivoni.
Ladies who wished to join the choir underwent an audition and a period of induction into the choir before membership was granted. In 1999, Diane Wintle stepped down as principal accompanist and was replaced by her deputy, Hayley Teague. Rosemary Lewis and Chris Day covered if a pianist wasn't available.
After nearly 20 years with the choir, Jean retired in December 2003. At this point the choir's tally of awards amounted to 50.
After the legacy
In 2004, the choir announced the appointment of Pam Howell, headmistress at Soudley Primary, as Jean's successor. Pam had previously sung in the alto section of Springfield. At the same time, Chris Andrews - a student at Wyedean School, Chepstow - was appointed as official accompanist. The choir fulfilled engagements throughout the Gloucestershire area and sang in many charity events including a choral gala evening at the Forest Theatre, Royal Forest of Dean College. A year later Chris Andrews left the choir to pursue higher education at Cardiff University, at which point Yvonne Walkerdine, teacher at Yorkley Primary, took over the role of accompanist. A year later, when Pam left the choir due to work commitments, Yvonne became the conductor.
At the end of June 2008, after just 4 years with the choir, sadly, Yvonne died.
The choir had already entered Bailey Lane End Music Festival 2008, and wanted to compete to honour Yvonne's memory. Former accompanist Chris Andrews was brought back from Cardiff to conduct a series of rehearsals and the one-off competition, accompanied by Rosemary Lewis. The choir won.
The decision was made to begin anew by appointing Chris the position of full time conductor and Alex Kirk - a talented young pianist from Wyedean School - as official accompanist.
Since then the choir has undergone a dramatic revamp: new dress code, new music, new members and a new website! The Springfield Singers continue to go from strength to strength.
In September 2011 Alex Kirk left to take up a place at the Royal Academy in London studying for his music degree. The choir were very lucky to acquire the services of Sally Horton as their new accompanist She proved to be a great asset to the choir, sometimes leading rehearsals to teach the choir new pieces. Sally left us to go to Qatar with her husband's job and they are now in Abuja, Nigeria.
Autumn 2012 saw the departure of Chris Andrews who had become the Director of Music at St John's on the Hill School. He had taken the choir into new realms of music and the choir had thoroughly enjoyed his fun and innovative style of leadership.
Sarah Waycott joined the choir as conductor after Chris Andrews left and has been an inspiration to the whole choir as well as introducing them to alternative and exciting areas of music, principally as occasional backing singers for the ELO tribute band ELO Again.
Where are they now?