THREE years ago, Jane Dolby lost her trawler man husband Colin, when he died at sea after his fishing vessel was caught in a freak storm just off the Essex coast.
Inspired by the success and popularity of other choirs such as Glee, The Port Isaac Fisherman’s Friends, The Rock Choir and of course the Military Wives, Jane has embarked upon a project to fund raise for the charity which provided so much help to her following the loss of her husband. Her plan is to record a single and have all the profits go to The Fishermen’s Mission charity.
Jane explained, “I’ve been helped so much by The Fishermen’s Mission and I had an idea for putting together a choir called THE FISHWIVES to sing to raise money for the charity. On the morning of April 17th, I posted a little note on Facebook inviting any women connected to commercial fishermen if they were interested in joining. I hoped a couple of the local girls may reply.
“But when I logged into my Facebook account that night, the note had been shared across the social networks and I’d had over 100 responses not only from woman all over the UK asking to join but from TV, newspaper and radio journalists too. It was an incredible and totally unexpected response. We’ve even had a film maker and two documentary makers make enquiries. One said, ‘It feels like it could be a feelgood story like Calendar Girls meets The Full Monty. We’ve even appeared in July’s Waitrose magazine!”
Since then, Jane and the other choir members have appeared on BBC radio all over the UK and Northern Ireland, ITV news, Scottish television and most recently they embarked on a filming project with the BBC to bring their story to the public attention and highlight the situation of what happens when there is a death without a body.
“With choir members, many of whom have never sung before, dotted all over the UK, rehearsals have been quite a challenge,” admits Jane. “Some have Internet, some don’t, some need texting, others need info sent via snail mail – it’s quite time consuming even doing the admin let alone keeping on top of all the other elements that accompany running a choir of this size and organising recordings.
“We’ve solved the problem of singing tuition with the help of a fantastic couple of girls called Tommy Ludgate and Sarah Grace who run organisation called vocal coaching and music organisation called Globe Jam. The girls have freely donated their time and talent to create these vocal tutorials to solve the problem of how to teach the girls to sing when they are so widely geographically spaced.”
Tommy said: ‘We’re honoured to be a part of the Fishwives Choir project and determined to help get their charity single made. As big fans of Gareth Malone and his Military Wives Choir, we’d like the Fishwives to follow in their footsteps.’
“I’ve had quite a lot of help musically,” Jane says gratefully, “ A wonderful man called John Puddick arranged the music and Ian Pearce and Anne Whitehead created the backing tracks and guide vocals and a superb, local young artist, Toni Roberts has given her time to design a beautiful logo and set of postcards for us.
“There are now over 70 choir members from the Highlands of Scotland to the island of Jersey and I’m juggling co-ordinating the choir, with working and being an only parent so the help I’ve received from everyone has been a Godsend and has been crucial to progressing this project.”
Now we have the backing track and guide vocals the next step is arranging regional rehearsals before we meet to finally record.
The girls are fundraising to raise money for fares and accommodation for those ladies having to travel a great distance to do the recordings and Rick Stein gave a surprise donation to the the girls.
The choir has recently appeared on BBC Breakfast TV and the BBC has been filming the girls since last summer. The feature was on BBC Inside Out January 2013.
”We are all meeting in Hastings in April to record our single and it will be the first time most of us have met. We are fundraising to help cover the costs of recording, CD duplication and production. Our crowdunding page is here and we’d be so grateful for people tpo donate towards our cause
at Thanks http://www.bloomvc.com/project/The-Fishwives-Choir
The girls have had so many performance offers they are now planning a life beyond the choir and preparing a set so they can say YES to the gig offers from various food and drink, folk and seafring festivals that have come their way.
Learn more about the Fishwives Choir at www.facebook.com/thefishwiveschoir, and follow the girls on twitter at www.twitter.com/fishwiveschoirs