Unsung Champions 2019
Heather joined Lace City as a member of the bass section in March 2012 and since then she has been an amazingly loyal and hardworking member of the chorus. She hardly ever misses a rehearsal and she is always one of the first to arrive at the venue, setting up our sound system and ensuring everything is in place to start the
rehearsal on time.
She has been a member of the Membership team for a number of years, acting as registration coordinator for our frequent singing courses, and she is the first friendly face the participants come into contact with. Not only does she meet and greet, she follows up this welcome with frequent contacts with our potential new members and organises buddies for them all. Recently, Heather was appointed Membership Team Coordinator and she fulfills this role with her characteristic efficiency and tenacity! Heather was also instrumental in helping to write our chorus GDPR policy in 2018 to conform to the new regulations.
Heather’s attendance record at singouts is exemplary and it takes a very good reason for Heather to miss one (usually involves tennis, her other love). She has performed at every convention since qualifying including two international conventions.
Heather is married to a fellow barbeshopper who sings with the Nottingham Major Oak Chorus.
Outside of barbershop, Heather is a very keen tennis player and has been Club Secretary for the past 16 years as well as County Mixed League Seretary since 2004. She is also a keen gardener.
Tracey has been part of Sweet Adelines for 25 years but she sang barbershop since she was 17. Music is her life – her passion for barbershop and a cappella means she shares this with many people, teaching from children to adults. Her involvement with Young Women In Harmony, especially with Ultraviolet quartet, keeps youth flowing through her chorus, Acappella Sound. She has been involved with the Region 31 Management Team for a number of years, being the Directors Coordinator and is now the Directors Certification
Tracey started singing as a tenor at Champagne Cornwall. Throughout her time singing, she has been a tenor and a lead – although she briefly sang bass in a quartet. A section leader, choreographer, assistant director and director, Tracey has won a quartet gold medal with Inspiration in 2003. She now sings lead in Ain’t Misbehavin’ quartet and directs the Acappella Sound Chorus.
Heather is a proficient sportswoman and has numbered table tennis; badminton and her greatest love, netball (with the prestigious Hillcrest team), amongst her pursuits. She enjoys playing tennis to a very high standard. She and husband, Paul, are also intrepid travellers and regularly visit Toronto (to see daughter Claire and family); a ranch in Arizona (to catch up with good friends) and Lanzarote (to play tennis and relax).
Of course, Heather’s other great passion is music. In January 2010, she joined the newly formed Vocal Dimension Chorus as a baritone and is one of the chorus’ charter members. Heather has also sung solo at her daughter Anne’s wedding, and is a keen member of mixed quartet Monday Monday. Heather soon stepped up as champion of the tea break at Vocal Dimension rehearsals, taking charge of the temperamental ‘little urn’ and patiently trundling a wide variety of teas, coffees, sundry juices and chocolate bars to and from chorus each week. Last year she made £500 for chorus funds from this endeavour alone! In addition to this, Heather and Paul have a magnificent home which they regularly offer up to chorus pursuits. They have graciously hosted several visiting coaches from the far shores who are always grateful for the warm welcome at chez Byrne. Post-convention parties have often benefited from their lovely conservatory, set out with round tables painstakingly bedecked by Heather. After Vocal Dimension appeared on BBC1’s Pitch Battle in July 2017, we all gathered in Heather’s garden on a lovely sunny evening to enjoy barbeque and outdoor games – then trooped into the roomy lounge to marvel at ourselves on TV! ‘Byrne Towers’ was also the venue for a fundraising pamper day – that event saw Heather’s bedrooms converted into reflexology and massage salons!
All in all, Heather’s contribution to chorus life has been generous and steadfast, and we are delighted to nominate her for a very well-deserved Woman of Note recognition.
Linda is a key figure in Forth Valley’s management team keeping the website up-to-date and being main liaison with the music team. She has been team leader in the past and is always in the midst of everything Forth Valley Chorus. Linda has also been the principle key holder for our rehearsal hall for many years; keeping everything sweet with our landlords, arranging for heating, arranging for no heating and weekend access, just to name the obvious items. This also means she is first to arrive and last to lock up and leave each week.
Linda leads the effort on our early bird rehearsals for newbies, which occur before the regular rehearsals. It has been great to see how the additional rehearsals help with the audition process and developing repertoire for the newbies. This was especially true in the last year when there was a fully-loaded learning stack with new songs and choreo in preparation for our autumn show. Her leadership and encouragement have been instrumental in helping the learning process.
As Assistant Director and member of the music team, Linda is always willing to step in and support David, including being a dilligent timekeeper to encourage the smooth running of the evening! She works tirelessly every week running around making sure everything is in its place and always with a smile on her face.
Karen has been a passionate member of Surrey Harmony for over 25 years. Her aptitude for performing, her creativity, enthusiasm and organisational skills made her an inspirational member of Surrey Harmony both on and off the stage. Whatever her role, she throws herself into it with energy, seeing new challenges as opportunities for growth and always looking for creative ways to work and use her many skills.
Within six months of joining, Karen’ started singing in a quartet and competed at regional four times; most notably, coming third with Zig Zag, where she sang with Jenny Lawson (our founding Director), ex-Assistant Director, Judith Hunt and Trish Butler. She has also been on the front row, lead section leader and choreographer.
Off stage, Karen has used her organisational skills widely; she has served two terms as Vice President and is now Surrey Harmony’s current President. In this role, Karen’s teambuilding
skills and efficiency have been highlighted and she always brings with it a light-hearted and creative focus. She is always finding new ways to enhance the way we do things. As President, we’ve been entertained regularly with so many creative and fun posters that support chorus goals and ambitions as well as her chorus-themed beret! She also recently stepped in to support our Performance Organising and PR teams, with video-ing, Instagram and Facebook now added to her CV!
Having loved quartet singing, Karen has been keen to promote the experience. She instituted regular quartet evenings to encourage quartet singing amongst the chorus. Karen was instrumental in setting up our Diamond Club, where non singing members to stay in touch with the chorus. She has maintained strong and supportive ties with her Zig Zag friends, Jenny and Judith. For many years now, she supports and visits them weekly – crucially enabling them to maintain their friendship and continued links with the chorus. She does this with fortitude and positivity, whilst overcoming significant challenges because of their ill health. The love and support she has shown them has been nothing short of heroic.
Karen sees her presidency as her way of repaying everything she has received over the years from the chorus. Karen does it with gladness and gratitude. With her humility she declined our initial proposal for this award… it took all our persuasion for her to finally accept!
Gwen Topp has directed Aberdeen Chorus for over 20 years. She joined in 1985 and took over as Director in 1995. Gwen’s passion, talent and creativity led our members to vote, overwhelmingly, to have Gwen as Director.
One of Gwen’s many talents is her vision and creation of our infamous Christmas shows. We have covered everything from the toad with the croak from Drumoak (a local village) to Major Tom floating in a tin can, nativity plays under darkness with UV lighting, and Cinderella and the ugly sisters! Many of the songs, tags, change of lyrics was down to Gwen.
Not only is Gwen such a creative talent, she is also a talented arranger. The chorus has been so fortunate to sing many of her own arrangements from Scottish ballads to Gilbert & Sullivan light-hearted opera!
Gwen has sung baritone in her quartet, Vocal Zone, for the last 18 years and again her talent shines through with their performances. Although Gwen built up the chorus over the years raising the standard of singing, her focus has always been firmly on friendship and fun. Being a director is not just about music and singing, it’s also about relationships with the singers. Gwen’s quiet kindness to many chorus members will always be remembered. Her tact and diplomacy were often called for in dealing with situations that come up and every single time, she dealt with the issue in a professional, diplomatic and kind manner.
In every rehearsal and on stage, Gwen is graceful, respectful, tactful – and always with a smile. Gwen is a true friend to all chorus members, past and present, and Aberdeen Chorus would not have had the successes without her.
Margaret Vonk joined Singing Unlimited (SU) six months after its foundation in 2013 and shortly thereafter became the chorus secretary, a job she still fulfils with great dedication. Over the years, Margaret not only developed as a fantastic singer, reaching both the high tenor and deep bass levels, but with her ballet background she also excels with her front row performance skills.
Margaret is fundamental to the organisation that SU has become. She is sincerely concerned with all that is happening in and around the chorus and is busy with it on a daily basis – even when away on holiday, she ensures the continuous flow of emails in our inboxes. She arrives first and leaves last at rehearsals, keeps an eye on everyone and reaches out when needed. As secretary, she is our memory, archive, record-keeper, agenda-maker and the one who ticks the boxes on the many to-do lists. She takes perfect minutes of the management team meetings and keeps meticulous record of everything that has been done, everything happening right now and all that needs to be done in the future.
She is a very active SU convention team member, organising our acommodations in the UK for convention weekends, including dinners, rehearsal and party rooms! She records everything in her ‘holy binder’, which never leaves her sight, except only when on stage. The only thing we have to do ourselves is buy our airline ticket and go, but if it was in her power, she would make that happen, too!
To further make herself useful for SU and the larger organisation of Sweet Adelines International, she recently volunteered with the regional management team and is the current Dutch liaison for Region 31.
We are grateful to her in making our chorus run smoothly as it does. But above all, our Margaret is a lovely and very modest person, who acts as if the most natural and obvious way is to help others. This nomination is only a small sign of how thankful we are for her dedication and friendship, and of how much she means to us.
Milltown Sound started ten years ago and as one of the founding members of the chorus, we feel that it is fitting for Sheri to be our Woman of Note this year. She is an ever present member of the management team having done pretty much every job going so far and at the moment, she is keeping us all in line as the Membership Coordinator.
Sheri is an asset to this chorus – she is there every week, she is the bass section leader, an amazing role model and everything she does is for the best of the chorus.
Her love for our chorus and barbershop is endless. She is always there to lend an ear to anyone who asks. Our members describe her as ‘inspirational’, ‘hard working’, ‘committed’ and ‘super talented’.
Thank you for all that you have done for Milltown Sound over the years, we are sure that without you it wouldn’t have quite been the same!