Anyone in the vicinity of Peasmarsh Place care home on a Saturday afternoon will be serenaded by the delightful sounds of the Sunset Singers at their weekly rehearsal. This intrepid group, who are mainly in their 80s, meet at 2pm for a jolly hour or more of running through their favourite songs. It’s a very social group and rehearsals also provide a chance to have a natter and a catch-up over tea and cakes – at times the sound of laughter almost drowns out the singing.
The choir is organised and led by Liz Gange, whose husband John is one of the choristers, assisted by Wendy Wright who helps transport some members who don’t live at the home. Liz explained that the choir has been going for six years. Previously based at Magdala House they were welcomed to Peasmarsh Place just over a year ago by manager Barbara Clark. The house was once the home of Viscount Devonport and a previous occupant was Alice Liddell, the subject of Charles Dodgson’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
The choir’s repertoire of popular songs is extensive and includes Stormy Weather, Molly Malone, As Time Goes By and a rousing version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. They also sing a medley of spirituals and their rendition of Swing Low Sweet Chariot is as good as you might hear at Twickenham rugby ground.
As well as performing as a chorus some of the group sing solos, including Faith, whose sister Pat was a Tiller girl, Doris who was once with the Rye Singers, Emmeline who does a lovely version of I’ll Be Your Sweetheart and her son Malcolm, whose party piece is the famous West Ham theme song I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.
The Sunset Singers appear at the annual British Legion summer concert in Hawkhurst and over the Christmas period will be performing in and around Rye, including an open air concert outside Adams stationers in the High Street, and last year the singers raised over £500 for charity. We’ll be publishing the dates of their Christmas performances in due course but, in the meantime, anyone near Peasmarsh on a Saturday afternoon should keep their ears open for the sound of this happy band.
Photo: Tony McLaughlin