CHIPPENHAM Male Voice Choir has celebrated its 75th anniversary this year.

The choir marked the anniversary earlier this summer with a special concert at St Andrew’s Church in Chippenham, supported by the Bath Spa Band, renowned vocalist Jane Francis, and Peter Field.

The group formed in 1940 when the then large Westinghouse organisation was turning to the war effort and some employees, with Harry Keesham as conductor, formed the Westinghouse Male Voice Choir.

The choir frequently performed with the Westinghouse Orchestra, which was also formed in 1940.

Later the choir separated from the Westinghouse Company and changed its name to Chippenham Male Voice Choir to open its membership to singers from the local area.

Henry Miles has been a member of the choir for nearly 20 years since his retirement and is now honorary secretary.

He said: “It’s a great way of belonging to a nice gang who work together to create something that’s better than you could do on your own. I would recommend it to anyone. When it works well it’s a really good feeling.

“There’s a great crowd of guys and we have a very good musical director and conductor who hold it all together. We rehearse every Monday night and never less than 40 members turn up and we have a great evening. It’s very enjoyable.”

Since becoming the Chippenham Male Voice Choir, the group has performed at venues as far afield as Cardiff, Cornwall, Exeter and Wells Cathedral.

It has also taken part in a bi-annual exchange with Chippenham’s twin town, La Fleche in France’s Loire Valley, since 1985.

Closer to home, the choir regularly raises money for many local charitable organisations on its own or by participating with brass bands, orchestras or choirs in the area.

Bob Jones, the choir’s current conductor, has been at the helm for nearly 35 years and followed David Fidler, who led the choir for many years.

Previous to Mr Fidler, Dennis Cole, Charles Smith, John Astle, George Flanagan, Herbie England and Charles Hulbert will be names remembered by many.

The next chapter of the choir’s history will be written when it moves rehearsals to St Peter’s Church in 2016.