Members of the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service Choir
You can read all about our choir members here:
Sue Cleaver (Tenor)
Working for CFRS for the past twelve years, Sue has also been involved with the Cadets since she joined, volunteering her spare time as a Fire Cadet leader in both Nantwich and Congleton units where she has started new units and recruited cadets, as well as being involved with the Ghana project since 2005.
Previously working in the Community Safety department, Sue now works as a Family Support Advocate in the Families Together project, seconded to Cheshire West and Chester Council and based in Winsford. Her current role involves her being a point of contact and voice for families, based on non-school attendance, anti-social behaviour and worklessness.
Sue’s no stranger to choirs, having sung in her church choir until she was 20 and appearing in musicals in her local theatre.
“Over the years,” says Sue, “I lost my confidence in singing so the choir has given me an opportunity to sing again. The whole experience has renewed my love of being part of a choir and the buzz I get from performing.”
Michelle Dalton (Soprano)
Michelle is an Team Leader at Macclesfield Fire Station with The Prince’s Trust Team Programme.
“During the team programme the young people go on a team-building residential week, complete a community project, complete a work placement and make a speech at a final presentation evening,” explains Michelle. “It is a very varied, busy, exciting job and is very rewarding.
We get a mixture of young people on the programme - ex-offenders, under-achievers at school, care leavers and young people who are out of work for no other reason than the recession. By the end of the course we are usually left with a group of very confident young people who are positive about making something of themselves.”
Michelle hasn’t sung in a choir since leaving school. Growing up, she enjoyed singing and dancing for a few years and, at the age of sixteen, she joined her sister in a girl group singing in various Leeds social clubs. She left that group after a year to form her own girl group back in the north west and says she hasn’t sung in public for over seven years as she wasn’t confident enough to go it alone without her sister to push her.
“I have found the experience unlike anything else I’ve ever done in my life,” says Michelle. “I’m so glad I applied. I can’t thank the Service enough for going for this opportunity. It has re-ignited my love of singing and I hope this new hobby continues after the TV programme has finished.
“I’ve never met a group of more positive, pro-active people than the other choir members, only one or two of whom I had even met before this process. From the beginning there has been hard work, self-sacrifice and an unwavering belief in each other.”
Stephen (Bud) Flanagan (Bass)
Stephen (aka Bud) is the former Station Manager for Knutsford and Wilmslow Fire Stations. He retired in August 2014 after completing 30 years with the service, but has stayed with the choir.
"I started with the choir just before our first ever performance of 'The Rising' and ever since that day I decided that as long as they wanted me I would stay. It is a fantastic hobby which allows me to stay in touch with former colleagues as well as getting to perform with my daughter (Emily) who works for North West Fire Control and is a soprano in the choir.
Th choir have performed in some fantastic venues around the country and have recently returned from our trip to New York".
Bud adds that "we are a really friendly and supportive group who are always on the look out for new members to come and join us, we meet weekly on a Tuesday at 7pm in the Fire Service Headquarters restaurant".
Matt Lloyd (Tenor)
Matt, from Bollington, has been with CFRS for 11 years, transferring from Norfolk FRS where he was for around six years. He’s a Wholetime firefighter based at Macclesfield Fire Station. His duties include responding to all types of operational incidents ranging from house fires to road traffic collisions to animal rescues. As a firefighter he also works with his crew to educate the community in home fire safety, goes on school visits and works closely with both youth groups and the elderly.
Matt tells us that a few years ago he sang and played guitar in an ‘all firefighter’ band which was great fun. They did a few gigs and raised money for a local charity. Although he’s never had any lessons he also played guitar and sang with another guitarist in Bollington.
“Being part of the choir has been an experience of a lifetime and I’ve loved every minute.” Says Matt, “I didn’t know half the people in it before the process started and it’s been incredible how much we have bonded over the last few months. I’ve learned so much about correct singing techniques, from breathing to text and diction, and even how to warm up the vocals by repeating words like red lorry, yellow lorry, lavender lorry and Judi Dench!
“What I’ve learnt over this journey has not only made me a much better, confident singer but, more importantly, I’ve gained so many great friends and just had a blast. It’s an experience I will never forget!”
Philip Marke (Bass)
Watch Manager of Macclesfield’s Green Watch, Phil Marke has been in the fire and rescue service for 17 years. He joined Lincolnshire FRS at the age of 18 and has served with Cheshire for the last 10 years. He is responsible for making operational decisions and risk assessments when attending incidents and decides the tactics to use to successfully deal with a fire or other emergency. Managing the training of staff , he also regularly assesses personnel to ensure competency. Another important factor of the role is community-based work.
Phil has never ‘officially’ sung in a group before but does play drums in a band and always sings whilst performing, just not on the microphone! He also admits to singing around the house and in the car, and enjoys the occasional karaoke.
Phil says, “Being selected for the choir means that I must be able to sing which is a point proved to the rest of my band and to other frustrated drummers in the world! It’s been a long and sometimes frustrating journey for my family but also a great example for my children who are very proud of me and the rest of the choir. I loved watching them in the audience when we performed.
“The experience has been amazing. I’ve loved every second of it. The choir experience has been very positive for the organisation, creating an excellent team and promoting really good team spirit and values.
Maurice McBride (Bass)
Maurice is a retired independent member of the Fire Authority. He retired in 2016 after 7 years as an independent member . He took on this role when he retired from full time employment as an airline pilot.
“I joined the choir after the filming of the TV series and see it as another way that I can contribute to the service. I sang a lot in choirs in my teenage years and played in an orchestra but gave it all up when I went to university. I started singing again a few years ago in a college adult night school class. I have always sung in large choirs, so singing in such a small group of dedicated singers is more challenging but great fun”.
Claire Moores (Soprano)
Claire is a Community Safety Advocate covering Cheshire East. Working for CFRS since 2006, Claire’s role involves carrying out Home Safety Assessments to the most vulnerable in the community. Her role also entails partnership working with older persons’ organisations such as Age UK and the Deafness Support Network and following up referrals from Social Care and the Police. She also helps with road and fire safety education in schools and to the wider public at driver engagement days and fire safety initiatives.
Claire, who lives in Macclesfield, has never sung in a choir before, saying her singing to date has been limited to singing to her children at bedtime, in church and along to the radio.
“This has been a wonderful experience, says Claire. “To have found a whole new hobby at this point in my life has been surprising and enlightening. I definitely want to use this experience to widen my children’s horizons on the sheer joy that singing as part of a group can give you. It has given me a massive confidence boost that I was picked to join a choir and represent my workplace, and that has spilled over into everything I do, making me feel I can succeed in anything.”
Lisa Morris (Soprano)
Control Watch Manager Lisa, from Offerton in Stockport, has worked in the Control Room since November 2010. Control is where 999 and non-emergency calls come into and, as well as taking the initial call, Control staff mobilise fire engines and other appliances and officers to incidents.
As Watch Manager on Green Watch, Lisa is responsible for the operational activities that ensure Cheshire and Cumbria are safe, personnel management for her Watch and overseeing activities taking place in the Control room.
Lisa has never sung in public before apart from, she tells us, in the shower or car when nobody else can really hear you, and the occasional karaoke.
“This has been a once in a lifetime opportunity. When I auditioned I never in a million years thought I would be chosen,” explains Lisa. “To say I was shocked was an understatement when I received the call to say I had got in! I have met some special people and made a lot of new friends and I hope the choir will continue and go from strength to strength.”
Jayne Nixon (Alto)
A solicitor at Service Headquarters, Jayne has been with the Service for 10 years. As one of the Legal Team she advises on a range of matters including employment, pensions and equality.
Jayne has never sung in public before and decided to audition for the choir when they were recruiting for new members, after the TV programme had finished.
Since then she has performed with the choir in Chester Cathedral, Liverpool Cathedral, Blackpool Opera House, Bridgewater Hall, Tatton Park and even CarFest!
Says Jayne: "It has been a brilliant experience. I have met people from all over the Service and made some great friends. There is a real camaraderie and team spirit and I am so glad I joined."
Michael (Gus) O’Rourke (Tenor)
Gus has been with the Service for 23 years, and is Area Manager: Head of Operational Policy and Assurance. Based at Headquarters, he is the lead officer with responsibility for operational training, command training, policy and planning, health and safety, fleet services and control.
Gus, from Warrington, cites his previous singing experience as appearing in West Side Story at the age of 16 and he has found the choir “an all round wonderful experience and journey. Some elements have been a real surprise, the team building element especially has been amazing and the reward in terms of feedback from audiences has been incredible. Discovering some of the hidden talent in the Service has been another rewarding experience and there is also a feeling of having the privilege and honour of representing CFRS and the wider fire and rescue family on a national stage.
“My twin sons Conor and Nathan, 10, now want to play the piano and learn to sing, but want me to stop singing in public places when we are out and about!”
Helen Oulton (Tenor)
Helen has worked with the service and more recently North West Fire Control for 10years and handles 999 call for Cheshire, Cumbria, along with administrative work such as staffing and training.
Never having sung in public before, Helen says, “I love singing as part of this choir, my confidence has improved and I've learned more about reading music since being involved with the TV programme.”
Fiona Owen (Soprano)
Fiona has been a volunteer with CFRS for many years, volunteering mainly with the training department as a role player. She’s also involved with the heritage section, introducing members of the public to some of the older appliances owned by the Service.
Fiona has sung from a very young age and has performed in various venues around the UK from Bolton Octagon to the Royal Albert Hall to church halls and even car parks!
She’s spent more than 30 years working in a variety of roles in both professional and amateur theatre, including set building, stage lighting and sound and directing shows. She says that although she has been treading the boards with principal roles in shows such as Our Town, Not Now Darling, 84 Charing Cross Road, Desert Song and My Fair Lady, nothing can compare to the amazing experience that is The Choir.
Adds Fiona, “I currently sing with The Condate Singers and Hartford Choral Society but, having the opportunity to participate in The Choir, has reaffirmed my love of classical music and singing.
Gareth Scott (Bass)
Gareth is a Crew Manager on Blue Watch at Chester Fire Station. He’s worked for the Service for twenty years and is a wholetime firefighter.
Gareth has sung in a male voice choir for 12 years, the Rhos Male Voice Choir in Rhosllanerchrugog, near Wrexham.
He says: “I am really enjoying singing in the choir. It is great singing with colleagues I’ve known for years and never expected to sing a note with! And I also enjoy singing with ladies as I’ve never done that before.”
Dan Selby (Tenor)
Dan joined Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service as an on-call firefighter at Macclesfield fire station after filming of the TV series had already finished. Since joining the choir, though, he has become a committed and enthusiastic member, singing with the tenor section.
“Being new to the Fire Service, joining the choir has been a brilliant way for me to meet lots of new people across all branches of the organisation - a fantastic bunch of colleagues, and now friends”, he says.
As well as being an on-call firefighter, Dan runs a business as a self-employed music composer, writing music for TV, advertising and video games. He also has previous choral experience, having sung in a classical choir for a number of years.
“I’m very fortunate that my musical background has given me the opportunity to feel I am making a really positive contribution to the choir. And, I have to say... I’m loving it! So, would I recommend joining the choir? Definitely! Give it a go – it’s great fun and you’re guaranteed a warm and friendly welcome!”
Gwyn Williams (Alto)
Gwyn is a firefighter in Control and has been with the Service for thirty six years. She has to ensure that the appropriate fire engines and appliances are sent to emergency incidents and, whilst dealing with the 999 caller, identify potential risks to callers, giving safety advice until help arrives.
She is a novice to choir singing, indeed to singing in any way, and she says this activity is something well out of her comfort zone. “I originally auditioned for the choir to make up numbers, never expecting to be included, and I am so glad that I did. The whole experience has been amazing, allowing me to do things that would normally never have presented themselves, trying out new skills and gaining further knowledge. I have also had the privilege of being able to do this with a remarkable set of people from all different departments within the organisation and with astounding team spirit".