Male voice choir says farewell to its leading lady

First published in

Romsey Male Voice Choir’s recent concert appearance alongside the Royal Marines Band was tinged with sadness as it was the last performance of their only female member.

Musical director Hannalie Bekker-van der Merwe has stood down after 11 years with the choir.

A spokesman for RMVC said: “The choir owes her a debt of gratitude for all we have achieved she will be sadly missed.”

After the show there was a presentation by choir chairman, David Gray, to Hannalie.

Hannalie, 61, who is vocal director at Thornden School, in Chandler’s Ford, said she had originally planned to stay with the choir for just six months.

“Without being too boastful, I’ve brought them to a great standard,” she said.

“If ever there was time to leave, it’s now. I’m going out on a high. I’m very proud of my boys!”

Hannalie, who runs six ensembles at Thornden, plus a community choir and girls’ choir, added that relinquishing her role with RMVC might allow her more time to see her partner, Michael.

She came to England in 1997 and began at Thornden as a peripatetic teacher for just a few hours each week.

The Collingwood concert, entitled “Britain at her Best”, which took place in front of packed house at The Anvil in Basingstoke, was arranged by the Rotary club of Basingstoke and Deane.

Among the audience were a dozen Chelsea pensioners resplendent in their red uniforms.

The RMVC sang throughout the evening with their eight songs including a medley of First World War numbers.

The event raised £13,000 to be shared between Help 4 Heroes, The Royal Marines Charitable Trust, The Royal Hospital, Chelsea and local charities.

RMVC will be back in action at Romsey Abbey on February 28 with stand-in musical director, Richard Stannard, who has worked with the choir before.

Richard will also be wielding the conductor’s baton at the choir’s concert in Wimborne Minster on March 29.

The post of replacement musical director will soon be advertised. To keep in touch, visit the choir’s website

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