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News


Choir drops its boys only rule


FORchoristers hoping to get their voice heard at one ofMaidstone’s largest venues, a historic change in recruitment policy means any- one, of any age, can now apply to sing at the county town’s parish church. Themovewill see themale voice


choir at the 1,200 seater All Saints’ Church comprisemen,women and children, as standard – for the first time in 700 years. The ground-breaking change has


been brought about by a dramatic fall in the number of choristers, not only atMaidstone’s parish church, which now has just six regular members, but across the country. The change in recruitment policy


to form a mixed choir is described by


choirmaster Andrew


Williamson,who joinedAll Saints’ in March, as “a sign of the times”. TheAnglican parish church is third in importance to the cathedrals at Canterbury and Rochester and is looking to be more flexible in its approach. Mr Williamson (pictured), a for-


mer director of music at Boughton Monchelsea, said: “Not everyone is in agreement with the change, but a constant replacement process is needed when limiting the choir to boys because their voices break; they discover girls and other temp- tations that take up their time.” MrWilliamson became a choris-


ter while at boarding school, but agrees that there are many more


WORK will start to transform Leeds Castle’s popular play- ground once the children have returned to school. Contractors are expected to


begin the work in October to create the new-look Knights’ Realm 900 play area, near the maze. Shane Guy, head of castle op-


erations and tourism, said: “My aim is to find the right balance


distractions today. “We are looking to be as flexible


as possible to encourage older cho- risters to return; social singers to join us; and schools to consider adding choir classes as an after- school club in an effort to keep song a central part of praise in our church.” The main commitment is a


weekly rehearsal, during which choristers are taught how to read music, and some Sunday services, forwhich a small payment ismade. Schools interested in running a


choral class after school, with coaching from Mr Williamson, or those interested in joining the choir, should email choirmaster.all- saintsmaidstone@gmail.com.


Castle playground’s newlook


so that the heritage attraction does not become too much like a theme park and everyone ex- periences their own special day out. I knowour younger visitors will very much enjoy exploring it.” The new playground is ex-


pected to be back in business next Easter and will be themed to demonstrate the castle’s 900- year history.


Snodland stop forworld bikers


A COUPLE on a round-the-world cancer fund-raising cycle trip were madewelcomewhen they chose Snodland for a stop-over. The chairman and staff fromSnodland Town Council and 27 children


cheered Chris O’Hare and Gabriella Gatrix’s arrival at Potyns Sports- ground,where theywere offered a free camp site at the community cen- tre. They enjoyed a picnic with pupils with food donated by The Co-op and A and D’s bargain stores in Snodland High Street. The youngsters had questions to ask the cyclists,whowill spend seven years on the road, cycling through 67 countries.


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