Gibraltar’s Military Wives Choir was started in November 2019 by a member of another choir who missed the singing, support and camaraderie of choir while in Gibraltar, and felt the community would benefit from it. Gibraltar MWC is part of the Military Wives Choirs, a registered charity and network of 75 choirs in British military bases across the UK and overseas, with over 2,200 members. There is a big focus on their ethos of ‘Sing, Share, Support’. The choir’s primary focus is of course to sing together but we also hope to be a source of support. Being a military wife can be incredibly lonely and difficult; the network provides a place for support and friendship as soon as any woman arrives at a new draft location.
Singing is wonderful for sustaining good mental health. Being a part of a choir and singing improves health, happiness and is a perfect ice breaker, according to research by the University of Oxford. It also helps to improve breathing, posture and muscle tension. Above all, song is a powerful therapy tool. Meeting once a week online during lockdown helps the member’s mental wellbeing.
Gibraltar MWC currently has nine members; a small choir as only recently formed. We welcome any women within the military community, regardless of position or rank as this is not what we are about. Anyone who fits the membership criteria can join regardless of experience or even if you would like to come for the atmosphere and to learn about music and harmonies, etc. Most of our members haven’t been in a choir before and enjoy the uniqueness it brings each week. Membership criteria is broad as all MWCs exist to support women whose lives are impacted by their military connection. We welcome any women in Gibraltar who are:
wives, partners, fiancées or cohabiting partners of a serving member of the UK Armed Forces or UK Armed Forces veteran (including Reservists and Gibraltar Regiment)
– serving UK Armed Forces personnel or veterans
employed within the military community for an organisation that provides a direct service to serving military personnel and families
If you would like to join then please email us at Gibraltar@militarywiveschoirs.org or message us via our Facebook page ‘Gibraltar Military Wives Choir’.
Gibraltar MWC has access to a library of music available for the whole network. Choirs across the network including Gibraltar MWC are currently learning music from the recently released film Military Wives, to be featured in a series of concerts around the UK in 2021, which we hope to be a part of. We have just started learning a new song Together, written by Hilary Davan Wetton, which uses lyrics formed from different choirs in the network. Learning core songs with the same arrangement means members can quickly fit into a new choir when they move location.
We normally rehearse once a week. Our rehearsals are two part: a social part where we chat, have a cup of tea, eat cake and support each other and the second part is singing. We do the same now when we meet online, and it’s brilliant to keep in touch and have that couple of hours of ‘normality’ and see our friends. We are lucky enough that our current MD (Musical Director) is another military wife. Everyone is proud of all of our members across the network who have continued music-making in these challenging times.
Life in lockdown for choir members is the same as everyone else. We join in with the clapping for keyworkers especially as two of our members are healthcare professionals, but not forgetting all of the work that has been done by the military behind the scenes to help Gibraltar during this pandemic. One of our talented members has been performing each Thursday from her balcony in support for the NHS and GHA, by singing beautifully You’ll Never Walk Alone as well as a trumpet rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Morale is generally high and everyone is supporting each other. Some have been providing random act of kindness deeds to families across the base, with cakes, flowers and drawings to remind us we are all in this together and have one another. We have lots of beautiful artwork displayed across the base from the children to remind us to keep safe, it’s very welcoming.
Gibraltar MWC would love to perform publicly in the future. The aim of the choir initially is to provide welfare support for its members, so performances are the choice of each individual member but they are also great fun. We had an idea to perform songs for VE day in Casemates Square but unfortunately this has had to be cancelled.
Gareth Malone’s episode of the Great British Home Chorus on 22 April is on YouTube and featured a Military Wives Choir Musical Director, and actors from the recent film, Military Wives.