By Bethany Reeve
On a chilly weekend in November, the Duchess Community High School Choir from Alnwick visited Ford Castle. Think Fame/High School Musical/Glee* go Medieval. All musically talented and all eager to have a go at our activities, as well as rehearse of course.
Along with the students came a great variety of bags, cases, stands and equipment to be unloaded before the group could explore the interior of the Castle and find their chambers. A little later, emerging from their rooms, students and teachers found their way to the dining room where a traditional roast chicken dinner awaited them.
Whilst clearing away after dinner, we were stopped in our tracks by what we took to be a CD playing on the sound system. The Castle was filled from dungeon to tower with the most wonderful choral music coming not from a CD but from the choir. Forget all of the above-mentioned shows; these students can really sing, with not a microphone in sight.
Saturday morning started with a full English breakfast – continental for those who preferred it – which set everyone up for the busy day ahead. Rehearsals were interspersed with some rather daring activities including the thrilling Zip Wire, toppling Crate Stack, bumping Nightline and testing Initiative Exercises. The students were up to every challenge and seemed to have a brilliant time, though looking a tad muddier after Nightline. Unable to resist, the Duchess staff joined in too.
An evening meal of pasta, served with freshly baked baguette was positively devoured by hungry choristers after a very active day. Still to come though was the Talent Show that formed the evening’s entertainment. Of course, being such a talented group, they put on quite a show. Many students sang, as soloists or in groups; some played instruments, or danced. The announcement of a Fire Dance raised our Health & Safety Officer’s eye but fears were allayed and extinguishers lowered as scarves replaced real fire. Though almost impossible to choose the best act, a boy/girl duo was announced winners. The teaching staff then treated us to an excellent performance until hot chocolate and bed time.
Sunday morning commenced with another hearty breakfast. Everyone swapped activities to try something different; willing to try everything, The Duchess School certainly does not lack enthusiasm and made running a session as much fun as (we hope) participating.
After lunch our guests gathered their bags, boarded the coach and with much waving and many a ‘Goodbye, see you soon’ were on their way and I’ll just bet that the Wheels on that coach went ‘round as melodiously as any heard in the area for some time.
Thank you Duchess School Choir, for being so polite and enthusiastic; you were a pleasure to accommodate and we very much look forward to seeing you again soon.
*Delete as applicable dependent on age
Postscript: Unfortunately, due to a technical hitch (someone forgot their camera) we are unable to illustrate just how keen the choir was, both in participating in activities and rehearsing for their forthcoming competition. Heads will roll, mark my words.