Four generations join Shanty Choir project in Suffolk

06 July 2017

The passion of the sea has brought together four generations of a family - to sing shanty songs and pirate hymns.

From a great-grandson to a great-grandfather, the Baldry family spend their time together singing with the Voice cLoud - an arts organisation based in Waveney that uses music to celebrate heritage.

Sea Shanties and Coastal Music of East Anglia, funded by People's Health Trust.

Since January 2016, the Voice cLoud has been delivering a project which explores the music which the traditional industry of the area – fishing created; sea shanties and sea songs.

The project has grown from initial taster sessions to a group of 40 to 60 people regularly attending and singing songs from various seafaring communities, including sea shanties but also whaling songs, smuggling and wrecking, naval ballads and pirate hymns.

The project is funded by People’s Health Trust, using money raised by HealthIntend through The Health Lottery.

Adam Barnard, one of four generations of the same family who attend the project and sing with the choir said his family had a deep connection to the sea.

The 16-year-old said: “Starting at the helm, you will find John Baldry, my Great-Grandfather, a sprightly 90-years of age. He lived on Lowestoft’s - now destroyed and developed - Beach Village in the 1950s and 1960s and became a pub landlord of the Gas House Tavern. But as changes swept through this easterly community, he moved his family to The Lake Lothing Public House.

“My Nan, Glennis Wigg (nee Baldry), grew up in East Street and, as a toddler, was floated in a wooden box from a bedroom window during the 1953 east coast floods.

“She grew up in the village and talks of, as a child, seeing the rocket going up and racing with others to the sea wall to either see a boat in distress or the lifeboat being launched to the rescue.”

Mrs Wigg later married Teddy Wigg, a fisherman and lifeboat man during the 1960s and 70s.

A man connected to the sea, he would later sail around British waters with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries survey ships.

Adam added: “Kevin Barnard, my father, although not connected to the sea by occupation, has a thirst for researching family history and has uncovered many stories and tragedies that bind the family circle to the waters of our coastline.

“His passion for storytelling has been rekindled through being a member of the choir and he has contributed some of the stories he has researched to performances by the choir.

“That leaves me, Adam Barnard. Following a performance by the choir, I was inspired to join and love singing the songs and finding out more about the songs and the history behind them. I’ve found the group to be a really friendly bunch with a passion for singing and wide, varied connection to the sea, which help me realise how the sea has shaped our town, community and families.”


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