In 2005 Val Machell was approached to be the tutor of a West Notts Local Education Authority evening class for singing with an educational remit to be run at the Ellis Guilford School on Thursday evenings in term time. Val accepted the appointment and her husband, Dave, voluntarily attended each week as her accompanist.
After two or three terms Val was frustrated by the restrictive and prescriptive nature of the evening class scenario and decided that she would like to have her own independent choir. To this end she asked the then members of the night class if:
a) they would be willing to join such a choir, led by herself with Dave in a key supporting role sharing the musical directorship, instead of attending the night class and;
b) since she didn’t want to deal with the organisation herself, if any members would volunteer to ‘manage’ a potential newly formed choir.
The general consensus was yes and five members stepped forward. These five formed the Committee and came from a background of having sung with a variety of other groups and from serving on other committees.
It was agreed that the ethos of the choir was to be ‘singing for health and wellbeing’ and suggestions to name the new choir were voted upon and a bank account was opened in the name of ‘Soundswell Choir’. Then a Constitution was prepared with the assistance of ‘Making Music’ (the National Federation of Music Societies) organisation who, having approved the Constitution, enabled the Choir to become Members of Making Music which allowed the Committee access to help relating to many aspects of setting up and promoting a choir. It also offered preferential rates for insurance – public liability, employment liability and property cover.
Ellis Guilford school were willing to let the premises to Soundswell Choir, as a totally independent and self-funding group, on the same basis as to the Local Education Authority and the Choir enjoyed its inaugural evening on Thursday June 6th 2006 with a membership of 35.
Since then the Choir has moved twice, as a result of venue demolition on both occasions, firstly to Basford Hall College and then to Bluecoat Academy where it still meets on the same basis upon which it was founded but on Tuesday nights in term time with a membership of 100-110.
Long may it continue!