By Hayley Mortimer

THE FOUNDERS of a choir, which has raised over £170,000 for charitable causes, are stepping down after 20 successful years.

Gerry and Sheila Palmer, who set up The Stuart Singers in 1992, are handing over the choir to a new committee.

The choir’s recent concerts on Friday, June 8, and Saturday, June 9, at the Holy Trinity Church, Minchinhampton, were the couple’s last as musical director and secretary.

Gerry, 62, who lives with his wife Sheila, 80, in Minchinhampton, said: "The room was packed out, which was very moving. I was sad to think it was the last one. I will miss the music, but it is also a great relief.

"A massive amount of time has been dedicated to the group. It has been a huge commitment to us and it is time to pass it on to someone else."

The mixed voice choir is in good hands with Sheila’s daughter, Helen Simms, who has a strong musical background and is currently the conductor of the Stroud Light Music Choir.

Gerry and Sheila moved to Gloucestershire in 1992 and have been married for 34 years.

They had been heavily involved in amateur dramatics before they moved to the area, so when they found it difficult to join a society nearby, the couple decided to set up their own.

Just eight people turned up to the choir’s first rehearsal at Stuart House in Minchinhampton, but by their first concert they had recruited 22 singers.

As a result of the couple’s enthusiasm, the group now boasts 64 members and their musical talents have taken the choir all over the British Isles and as far as France and Holland.

Raising money for charity has been a primary focus for Gerry and Sheila and the choir has raised vital funds for various causes during their 20 years of singing.

The choir’s recent concert donated proceeds to the Salvation Army, British Legion, BRAMS and the Holy Trinity Church.

Sheila will continue to sing with the choir and Gerry says he will still go to all the social events and concerts.