Heave ho me hearties!

Marsh choir has its own flock boss

Let me tell you about the Marsh Choir and the effervescent Carly Bryant, who is the “flock boss” of the choir, now having to meet on Zoom, which she leads across seven Romney Marsh locations. Why flock boss? Well, Romney Marsh is full of sheep, isn’t it, and I can assure you 200 folk on Zoom takes some shepherding!

Sea shanty in five weeks

Carly has just finished her uplifting and very enjoyable Wednesday morning class teaching the five week course of sea shanties. Each Monday and Wednesday, some 200 in total (49 this morning) singers get together on Zoom for Carly’s musical, invigorating and our, we all hope, reasonably tuneful rendition of the Wellerman – number 1 in the pop charts as I write – a whaling sea shanty. I have to say I feel very sad for the whale, but there we are. We are also learning “Roll The Old Chariot Along” which has been adapted for the seven locations, so we all get an individual place edit of a line to sing.

The 400 strong choir started in 2019 and requires no singing experience, which is a very good thing as I think we are a fairly motley crew. Certainly my last choral singing experience was 60 years ago and my vocal chords are both weak and rusty sounding. I have noticed some improvement however over the last four weeks, and as we are all to be part of a short video, that is a relief.

The only slightly difficult thing is that each week we are asked if we will voluntarily send Carly an audio recording of the Wellerman chorus, and whilst I have managed to work out how to listen to the mp3 file we are sent each week, along with attachments of the words and music of the shanties,  I have to say the audio recording and upload to WhatsApp or email has, up to now, defeated me. One last try today, I think.

As I said, Carly is putting together a short video of the choir’s efforts and we are all hoping the Dymchurch “Day of Syn” festival might happen this year. If so, we shall be giving a hearty rendition of our newly mastered songs! If you want to know more about this biennial festival, got to their Facebook page or type in Day of Syn on this website.

It has been the best £25. I have spent this lockdown, which I think many of us have found really hard and sad. Carly is delightful, her enthusiasm for music is second to none and I always leave my half an hour thinking one day I might be able to sing properly again.

And to see lots of people dressed up as pirates, parrots on shoulders, whales floating around, is fun, which has been in very short supply just lately. I think we are doing a very brief dance on Friday to add to the video. Ridiculous but amusing and uplifting. Thank you, especially to the flock boss – but to all my fellow choristers as well!

Image Credits: Simon Wright , Carly Bryant .


  1. I can’t agree with you more Gillian! It’s great being part of Carly’s Choir! Obviously it hasn’t been the same during lockdown but Carly has been an inspiration to us all! I enjoy our Zoom lessons and I must say I found it a little difficult at first recording and uploading but persevere as when all the voices are together it’s amazing and uplifting!


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