History of the
Doncaster Wheatsheaf Singers
The Doncaster Wheatsheaf Singers was originally formed in 1950 under the auspices of the Doncaster Co-operative Society at the suggestion of Mr. John Barker - its founder and musical director for 32 years. The group was initially made up of young female singers and then went under the title The Doncaster Wheatsheaf Girls Choir.
Perhaps the last year of the Second World War was really the starting point of the Doncaster Wheatsheaf Girls Choir. John Barker had brought a group of girls together to perform operettas, one of which was co-written by John Barker himself. During these productions the girls advanced from unison singing to part singing and realised that they enjoyed this equally as much as the dressing up and acting. They therefore approached Mr. Barker to request that they meet and sing all year round.
To Mr. Barker's suggestion that a choir be formed they all readily agreed. It is interesting to bear in mind that neither the girls nor the conductor had at that time any experience of choir work. They were starting together from scratch on a new venture that none of them in their wildest dreams imagined could last fifty six years.
Thus, in 1950, the Wheatsheaf Girls’ Choir came into being. The upper age limit was raised to 16 years and Madge Barker, wife of the conductor, joined the choir as pianist.
An important lesson learned in their first year, which was to contribute so much to the future success of the choir, was that the precision and co-ordination of performances was infinitely better when the music was memorised. So, for the past 66 years, sheet music has very rarely been used at a performance (only by some of our new members when first appearing in concert).
Change Of Name
Early in 1993 the decision was made to rename the group The Doncaster Wheatsheaf Singers in order to recognise the increasing age range of its loyal members - many of whom had joined as young girls and remain with them today. However, the group still actively encourages young members to join them.
From the beginning the choir became an auxiliary group of the Co-operative Society, thus obtaining some funding toward the running of the group. We are proud to have been selected as recipients of funding in the new Co-op Local Community Fund in Doncaster in 2017. We have also retained a strong link with the Co-operative Group by organising and performing in their annual Co-op Charity Christmas Concert which raises thousands of pounds for local charities.
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