Olwyn hits the high church notes for 70 years
West Norfolk melody maker Olwyn Barber has been hitting the high notes in the choir stalls and on the local stage for an incredible seven decades. Richard Parr reports.
The soprano, from Gaywood, King’s Lynn, has been singing songs of praise as a member of St Faith's Church Choir for 70 years and lending her voice to songs from the shows as a member for 60 years of the King's Lynn Operatic and Dramatic Society (KLODS).
Olwyn, aged 82, says: "When I joined the choir as a 12-year-old school girl I never imagined that 70 years later I would still be there helping to lead the worship every Sunday. Being part of the St Faith's Choir has really been a joy of my life.”
Whether as a faithful and dedicated member of St Faith's Choir since joining its ranks 1947, or part of the Company in a string of KLOD's musical productions, Olwyn has been a familiar face and voice to generations of worshippers and theatre audiences. She has also sung with the West Norfolk Gilbert and Sullivan Society.
"I have always loved singing from the days, as a nine-year-old pupil at Gaywood Primary School in Rosebery Avenue when I attended a junior schools Music Festival at the old Gaywood Park Secondary School. That is where I first started singing in public," said Olwyn.
St Faith's Church is holding a special service to commemorate Olwyn's 70 years of faithful service to the church. During the special service on Sunday, April 30, starting at 9.45am, hymns that Olwyn has chosen as being among her favourites will be sung and the Rector, Rev Julie Boyd will tell the congregation why they are Olwyn's particular favourites.
After decades of singing in St Faith's Choir, Olwyn has no hesitation in naming her all-time favourite hymn.
"My favourite hymn is, Jesu, Lover of My Soul, because its words express everything about my religious beliefs," she said.
Rev Boyd said that Olwyn's 70 years membership of the choir is an amazing achievement and a wonderful example of dedication and the love of God and His church.
"It is hard to believe that someone who joined St Faith's choir as a 12-year-old school girl is still in the choir stalls every Sunday 70 years later. It is just extraordinary," said the Rev Boyd.
Churchwarden Richard Parr, who has known Olwyn for more than 50 years, spoke of Olwyn's dedicated service to St Faith's Church.
"Not only has Olwyn been a member of our choir at St Faith's Church for 70 years but during all those years she has been ever-present, in her earlier days attending three services a day. It is a remarkable achievement in anyone's book and I don't believe we shall see the like of this again. She must rate as one of the country's longest-serving choir girls," said Mr Parr.
Mr Parr said all the clergy and church members send their warmest congratulations to Olwyn as she celebrates her seven decades of dedicated service to God and his church at Gaywood.
Everyone is warmly welcome to attend Olwyn's special Songs of Praise service on April 30.
St Faith’s Church, Gayton Road, King's Lynn PE30 4DZ
Pictured above is West Norfolk soprano Olwyn Barber.