Songs of praise for Norwich choir's charity work 

Young people visiting loved ones in Norwich prison are the latest to benefit from the great work of the Cringleford Singers who have held hundreds of fund-raising concerts over the last 45 years, inspired by director Margaret Smith. Mike Wiltshire reports.

Charity Ormiston Families is the latest to benefit from the choir’s amazing work, and one parent who uses young people’s visits at Norwich Prison, said: “The support Ormiston that gave us during time spent with my son in Norwich was amazing. The experience of confronting all the sights and sounds of prison life was very daunting – and that’s why Ormiston is literally a God-send.”

Meanwhile, the inspiration behind the Cringleford Singers is choir director Margaret Smith, who began the group 45 years ago with just ten women. Today, the 40-strong choir presents 25 informal concerts a year, singing everything ‘hummable’ from classical jazz and folk songs to showtime numbers from the musicals, all supported by the Cringleford musicians.

They have raised around £45,000 for various groups and charities in Norwich, including the House of Genesis, a Christian home for the homeless at Thorpe St Andrew; Clare School, the specialist physical and sensory day-college; Whizz-Kidz, a group which transforms the lives of disabled children, helping them to become confident and independent young adults; Hearing Dogs for deaf people; and the Phab Club, whose motto is ‘making more of life together’ for children and adults with special needs.

MargaretSmith600Margaret Smith, who is also music director at St Andrew’s church in Eaton, comes from a gifted family of musicians that goes back four generations – “my mum was a wonderful pianist, and our three children all play instruments,” she said.

Margaret herself has run three choirs – “music is a passion with me - it’s God-given.” She also has wide experience in the secretarial and admin work in the business world, including the oil industry and music sectors, as well as in church life.

Margaret also manages to be chair of the trustees of Norwich Youth For Christ and a trustee of the Revelation Christian bookshop and café in Norwich which she describes as ‘an oasis of peace in a bustling city.’

Married in 1967, Margaret and her husband, Dr Chris Smith, will celebrate their golden wedding next year. They met as teenagers in a large Bible class of 100 young people at Christ Church, New Malden, in south-west London. It was at this Bible class that Margaret and Chris became Christians.

Asked about her tireless motivation for service to others, Margaret says: “I just want people to know the reality of the love of Jesus – no matter who you are, or the problems you face, he can transform your life.”

On Saturday, February 4, at St Andrew’s Church, Eaton, Margaret is organising another annual ‘Singalong’ with Miles Quick, a talented Christian musician who used to teach at Norwich School.  The programme at 7.30pm will include Vivaldi's ‘Gloria’ and Roger Jones'  ‘Apostle’, plus other items.
“Everyone is welcome - whether to sing, play an instrument or to be the audience. It's a free event, with a retiring offering for Norwich Youth For Christ,” says Margaret.

The Cringleford Singers, who present a wide range of secular music, do not charge for their concerts, but invite donations for charity. The choir is always looking out for women “who love singing, can sight-read reasonably well and practise on Thursday evenings.”

To contact Margaret Smith, call 01603 453010, or visit,

Details about Ormiston Families is available at
Pictured above is director Margaret Smith at the piano and, top, the Cringleford Singers.

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