Harrow's hero, Joan Penrose, won Volunteer of the Year in 2012. She inspired visionary trainer, Margaret Carruthers, to run her innovative confidence-building course “Confidence For Life” in Harrow. Two pilot courses, funded by Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust were run in 2007 and 2009.
A course participant in 2009 expressed the desire to sing. In just one week, Harrow Community Choir was set up and running. Following the success of the Choir, Harrow Rethink Support Group established a weekly social and crafts group during the day – TOG (The Other Group) in 2011.
With continued backing and local funding from the Harrow Rethink Support Group, the choir meets weekly, in the evening, at The Bridge in Harrow, attracting around 30 attendees per session out of a current membership of around fifty.
The choir is run entirely by volunteers, including David Phelops, the Choir Director, himself a former Harrow Mental Health Service-user.
We became More Than Just A Choir in February 2015
The Early Years
Letter from Margaret Carruthers, January 2011
Dear Harrow Community Choir
Let me start by wishing you a Healthy New Year. I want to thank you for inviting me to your New Year’s dinner. It was grand to see you and enjoy a fun evening with good food and friends. There was such a good atmosphere, I wanted to bottle it and take it home. Another massive thank you for coming to visit me and celebrating the first year’s anniversary in Nottingham. I did make the cakes myself to all the doubters (I bake better than I sing). The show at the Theatre Royal and lunch out was enjoyable. David organized this brilliantly. I enjoyed hearing Joan asking for the rules to pass the parcel and deciding to sit up and take it seriously. Shortly after the ‘bit of a do’ my Mother was taken ill in Ireland. Sitting waiting to see if she would pull through I felt so sad. I decided to think of anything positive to make it bearable. The Choir came to mind and I felt a little better if only for a while. For me that is what the Choir does, what an impact it had for me sitting in intensive care smiling remembering a great bunch of people who make a difference. Thank you. Mum is doing ok now, and thank you for your concern.
In the next two months I will be visiting Harrow helping to train and share Confidence for Life with more people in Harrow. While I am in Harrow I hope to help get another group started, meeting in the week to socialize, have fun and do some activities. People may want to chat or listen, form a book club, discussion group, review films and more. So I wonder if you can help. If you have wool, craft materials, ideas then please let me know. About a year ago I worked as a volunteer in an Oxfam charity shop and bought a pile of knitting needles, with this in mind. They are a great place to find such items so please keep an eye out for any materials that might help. So all we need is a venue in the community and a few people to get it going. I will help to get it started and then leave the group to develop just as the choir has done. I am proposing a Wednesday afternoon as we could then organize half price tickets to the cinema (Orange Wednesdays). Please let David, Janet or Lady Gloria know if you’re interested and I can contact you shortly.
Any donation to help get started would be so welcome.
Finally I want to thank Ann, Agnes, David, Eamon, Lady Gloria, Jan, Janet, Jennifer, Joan, Marilyn and all the others who make the Choir happen. You are the Harrow Community Choir and I love to hear you sing...
Thank you I wish you well