A COMMUNITY choir in Otley has performed together for the first time since March.

The members of Otley Action for Older People’s Singing for Pleasure choir have not been able to meet up since the start of the coronavirus lockdown.

Instead, those with the required technology have had to make do with catching up online via weekly Zoom meetings.

That all changed last week, however, when some of the group met up opposite the community garden on Leacroft, Otley to share a ‘joyful’ - though socially distanced - sing together.

Choir leader Thanda Gumede said: “I have really been missing the members of our choir who are unable to access our weekly Zoom sessions online.

“I try to call them all, but it is not the same.”

The outside get-together came about after one choir member, who did not wish to be named, decided to take action.

They said: “It has been so long since I have seen many of the choir I invited them round to a green space near me for a socially distanced sing and picnic.”

The choir’s founding member, Eddie Butlin, was sad not to be able to join in but delighted that the gathering could take place before the new six-people-maximum social distancing rule came into force.

He said: “I phone in to the online session every week and sing along – it makes us smile to see each other, even if it is on a screen.”

Choir organiser Helen Toft says members have also been supporting one another by holding distanced visits in gardens and delivering bunches of flowers to cheer up those who have been unable to join in.

The open access, no-auditions choir normally meets at 11am in the Labour Rooms on Nelson Street, Otley and is open to all ages and musical abilities.

Leader Thanda is also a musical director and performer/ workshop leader for a number of professional and educational groups including Opera North and the Zulu/British fusion jazz band Ubunye.

The Singing for Pleasure choir is one of many ventures that are run by Otley Action for Older People on behalf of the older residents of Otley Pool-in-Wharfedale and Arthington.

For more information call (01943) 463965.