Gareth Malone comes to Bromley Heath

Published on: 24 Nov 2016


On a warm day back in May 2016, Gareth Malone, the BBC’s choir master sensation (famous not least for his Military Wives Choir), found himself visiting a quaint hall on the outskirts of  Bromley Heath as part of the South West heats to find his Best of British choirs. 

He was there to audition 16 ladies in a group called Jam Hot,  which is an offshoot wing to their larger main choir – the Bromley Heath Women’s Institute Community Choir. We all felt that Jam Hot was apt for the choir which has its roots in the W.I. but with an added twist of fun and rambunctiousness! 

The group were entered again this year by Emma Richards, mainly as a bit of giggle - and we had a fab day out.

Leading up to “Bugsy Day” the serious planning discussions were started. (Bugsy was our code name for Gareth to be sure we didn’t let it slip out to friends and family). The Facebook secret group was ablaze with polls and chats about song choices, musical arrangements, wardrobe, hair and of course what type of delicious spread we should lay on.

The rehearsals came thick and fast too, so much so, that, Emma who is also our resident speech therapist, was forced to hand out emergency vocal cord maintenance to the poor croaky frogs among us (strictly - no alcohol or caffeine and inhale lots of steam through one’s nostrils to soothe and hydrate those vocal folds!) Some ladies even purchased specialist steaming mugs to do the job properly… 

As you can imagine with a group of sophisticated, experienced ladies, when the G-Day finally arrived there was much coiffuring, curling, straightening, makeup applying, wardrobe faffing as well as festooning of bunting and transporting of vintage crockery, cake stands and the like. I mean, the poor man would likely be starving after his journey around the country so we needed to offer him something delectable to eat! 

A veritable feast was pulled together in the form of sponge, scones, cupcakes, homemade jam, flower arrangements picked from gardens that morning, buns, tea and fondant fancies. And of course, what spread would be complete without effigies of our G-Man? We obliged with a knitted Gareth made by Sue Hudson and an homage in icing made by Emma. We even had homemade jam tarts with the name written in pastry and homemade jam with Jam Hot labels.

The man was spoilt for choice as to which he would pounce on first, cake, effigy or tart! 

It’s fair to say that much squealing and pretend door bell ringing went on throughout the morning while we eagerly and nervously awaited his arrival. But he soon put us at our ease as he arrived casually eating a banana. Perhaps such a sophisticated bunch made HIM a little nervous! 

And the singing? We gave our best performance of Take That’s  Shine, which is one of our favourites, and we had some Guns N Roses and Erasure songs at the ready in case we needed to sing again! 

Despite our best efforts we sadly we didn’t get any further in the competition – knocked out by some stiff competition from the other six choirs in our region. Gareth was a superstar, however, and offered lots of feedback and suggestions to our choir master Nicholas Bromilow to help us develop in the future. 

Any feelings of disappointment have been overtaken by memories of an amazingly fun few months, friendships among us have been tightened and we certainly had some laughs watching ourselves on TV – you know the camera adds 10 pounds – we are all spectacularly lean in real-life! 

If you are a lady who loves singing and would like to join our main choir, we sing pop music, ranging from ABBA to Take That and the great thing is that we don’t hold singing auditions to join! Nervous singers most welcome. Please email the following address if you would like further details. 

Jam Hot will return ...


WI reports, pages 50  & 51

Comments (0)

Add a new comment:* (Allowed tags: <b><i><br>)

*Mandatory fields