Uncertain future for youth choir

A Dumfries choir that practices at St John’s is in danger of folding unless more young people sign up to sing.

The Dumfries Youth Choir began three years ago and initially attracted two dozen schoolchildren, split equally between primary and secondary pupils from across the region.

But the numbers have been dwindling recently, leaving those that run the choir frustrated and fearing for its future unless more youngsters turn up.

One of the organisers, music supply teacher Sue St. Joseph, said: “We’ve only got nine members of the choir left, all

Sue St John with the girls from the Dumfries Youth Choir before practice in the church hall.

Sue St Joseph with the girls from the Dumfries Youth Choir before practice in the church hall.

girls. They are great kids, very loyal, but we need more young people willing to take part.

“If the numbers continue to dwindle or stay as they are, the choir could fold.

“That would be a shame because those of us involved know the value of choirs and music, how much our musical skills improve, the opportunities for broadening our horizons and the wonderful friends that can be made through taking part.

The choir currently meets on Wednesdays in the church hall.

In a new effort to boost interest, Sue said the hall will open at 3.30pm for a drop-in session before practice starts at 5.45pm.

“This time will be whatever the young people want from it, ‘said Sue. ‘There will be something to eat and drink; a quiet space will be available if you want to work. There will be music, the chance to chat, and friendship.”

The choir sings a variety of songs and styles, but Sue said the real emphasis was having fun.

She said: “What we sing and what we do is agreed between those running the group and those who take part. We are a fun, friendly group and we really hope more people will join us.”

Although made up of current and former secondary pupils, Sue said any young person from S1 upwards to aged 24 would be welcome. There is no charge for membership, no need to be able to read music and no audition.

While the ability to sing in tune would be an advantage, Sue said the enjoyment of singing and the commitment to take part on a regular basis were the only real requirements.

Currently, the choir has plans to sing at two public concerts, both at St John’s, at the end of May and the other in December possibly as part of an Advent Service, or in a concert of its own.

If there was a need, transport could be provided to get the singers into practice each week.

Anyone interested is asked to contact Sue, at gw08stjosephsue AT ea.dumgal.sch DOT uk.






St John’s hosts first Lent lunch

The first Lent lunch of 2015 was held at St John’s on Friday when about 120 people attended to enjoy a tasty meal of soup, a roll, a piece of cake and a cup of tea.

The lunch was the first of six in the period before Easter with funds to be be given to Christian Aid. Last year, the lunches raised in excess of £4,000. Friday’s lunch raised £596, of which £133 came from sales from a stall run by the Dumfries Fairtrade Group.

Dumfries and District Christian Aid committee have been putting on Lent lunches for almost four decades. Volunteers for churches take it in turns to prepare and serve the meals – and the washing-up afterwards!

The Baptist Church on Newall Terrace had the honour of being the first this year to prepare the lunch and a fine job their helpers made of it.

The Fairtrade group had a stall groaning under the weight of some delicious-looking cakes and pastries made by members. They were also advertising the Fairtrade Fortnight that starts on 23 February.  There was also a stall from Traidcraft.

The first Christian Aid Lent lunch of the Easter period in the church hall.

The first Christian Aid Lent lunch of the Easter period in the church hall.


Smiles with the soup. From Dumfries Baptist Church, from left, Irene Reid and Iona Webster.

Serving the soup at the lunch on Friday were, from left, Irene Reid and Iona Webster, from the Dumfries Baptist Church.

Christian Aid Lent lunches at St John’s

The annual Christian Aid fund-raising soup lunches for Lent start at St John’s on Friday 20 February and run for six weeks.

Organised by the Dumfries Christian Network, the lunches are prepared by teams from churches across the town and will be held in the church hall from noon until 1.30pm each Friday.


This Dumfries institution has been held for more than 35 years. As people say:  “You know spring is coming when the lent lunches start”.

As well as homemade soup, a cheese or plain roll followed by tea and coffee – all for a minimum donation of £3 – there will be a sales table including homemade baking and Fairtrade stall from Traidcraft.

Alison Wright, Convenor of the Dumfries Christian Aid committee, said: “We are looking forward to the soup lunches and hope to raise as much money as in previous years. More than £4,300 was raised last year.

“The hall is always busy, there is a great atmosphere, and the soup is always good. We are grateful to the teams from eleven churches and the Fairtrade group.

Margaret Morton, secretary of the Christian Aid committee, added: “Our Friday lunches are very friendly, happy occasions where anyone can come along, meet lots of others and enjoy some really good food.

“We are really well supported by people in the town not just churchgoers and we have a good range of homemade soups.”

The cash raised will go towards on-going development schemes to help poor countries of the world.

Said Margaret: “Last year we raised enough money to give ten villages in Africa access to clean water by providing a village well and cans for carrying water.”



Spiritual care at centre of health provision

The new Lead for Spiritual Care at NHS Dumfries and Galloway, the Revd Dr Ewan Kelly, spoke at the regional council meeting of the Scottish Episcopal Church Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway, held at St John’s.

Revd Dr Ewan Kelly

Revd Dr Ewan Kelly spoke about the role of churches in community health and social care.



Revd Dr Ewan Kelly and Canon Robin Paisley

Revd Dr Ewan Kelly and Canon Robin Paisley address the regional council meeting


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