Barnstaple Male Voice Choir is still going from strength-to-strength and this year celebrates its centenary as a cornerstone of its community.

The original Barnstaple Male Voice Choir - first called the Barnstaple YMCA Male Voice Choir - in 1919. Picture: Barnstaple MVCThe original Barnstaple Male Voice Choir - first called the Barnstaple YMCA Male Voice Choir - in 1919. Picture: Barnstaple MVC

The choir and its 62 members have a busy year ahead, with its first concert at Green Lanes Shopping Centre on March 30 giving way to a summer Centenary Concert, plus a packed programme alongside its regular attendance at traditional local events.

Its services are in great demand and 30-plus engagements a year are not unusual, together with trips to perform around the country and abroad, often raising money for charity.

In 1919 returning soldiers who learned to sing on the march were among the founding members of the choir when it was set up by local organist Alfred Long.

First named the Barnstaple YMCA Male Voice Choir, Mr Long had been asked to form the choir for a charity concert to mark the reopening of the YMCA after World War One.

Barnstaple Male Voice Choir off to a trip to the BBC in 1935. Picture: Barnstaple MVCBarnstaple Male Voice Choir off to a trip to the BBC in 1935. Picture: Barnstaple MVC

His wife was the choir's first accompanist and in 1920 it was given its current name – the couple served in their roles for 33 years before stepping down in 1952.

A dormant period followed but it was revived afresh in 1976 and membership soon grew.

There are weekly Monday practice evenings at Fremington School from 7.30-9.30 and up to 45 members regularly turning out for concerts.

Graham Lang, the choir's public relations officer, said members ranged in ages from 40 up through to 90.

He said: “We never turn anybody away; they can come and sit in on a Monday night, sit and listen or join in if they want. After three or four lessons they will go through a formal voice test, which is nothing strenuous.

“We sing everything from John Denver and Elvis Presley through to traditional male voice choir music and church hymns.”

Events later this year include a Centenary Concert at RHS Garden Rosemoor in Torrington on July 6, compered by BBC Radio Devon's David Fitzgerald, with South Molton Town Band and soprano Rachel Phillips.

In September there will be a Massed North Devon Male Voice Choir Concert at St Peter's Church in Barnstaple and the choir will also be at its regular events such as the Barnstaple Carol Concert and the Mayor's Charity Concert. For the full programme go to http://www.barnstaplemalevoicechoir.co.uk.

The choir needs sponsors to help with costs such as travel and venue hire – if any local businesses can help, please call Graham on 01271 830575 or email grahamlang@btinternet.com .