Choir chief to meet Galloway parents

Parents of children who were devastated when they heard the Galloway Branch of the National Youth Choir of Scotland was to close down will get the chance to plead for a reprieve when the new chief executive of NYCoS visits Newton Stewart.

In April letters were sent out from the then chief executive Joan Gibson to those attending the Galloway Branch of the National Youth Choir of Scotland (NYCoS), based in Newton Stewart.

These said that the branch was to merge with Dumfries, effectively closing the choir. This would mean children facing a two to three hour round trip every week through to Dumfries for rehearsals.

That announcement was made without any consultation with parents but the new NYCoS chief executive, Morag Campbell, who takes up the post on June 18, has now agreed to come to Newton Stewart to meet with the parents in the next few weeks after admitting her predessesor’s letter would have been “a shock”.

In her letter to the parents she hinted the door may still be open for the continuation of the choir in Galloway, saying she would “discuss the options available”.

Galloway MP Russell Brown said: “As soon as I heard about the plans to close the Galloway Choir I offered any assistance I could to try and keep it open.

“I also asked for someone from the choir to come to Newton Stewart to meet the children and their parents and I am pleased that the new chief executive has agreed to do this.

“Being a member of a choir is a great thing for a young person to do and the priority now must be finding any way we can to keep the Galloway choir open.”

Galloway MSP Alex Fergusson added: “I very much welcome this new approach.

“In my previous correspondence with NYCoS on its ill-founded and abrupt decision to amalgamate the Galloway Choir with the Dumfries Choir, the previous chief executive told me of the effort the choir was making to be a choir for all Scotland – that is a laughable assertion given the way that the proposed amalgamation was handled.

“I am delighted that the new chief executive seems to be taking a more enlightened view and is coming to meet with parents to discuss the situation.

“I have repeated my call to give the Galloway Choir at least a year’s grace before any decision is taken as to its future – if NYCoS is to be a truly national organisation, the Galloway Choir must remain a functioning part of it.”

Catriona Adams, who’s daughter Libby is a keen member of the Galloway branch said: “I am delighted that NYCoS are finally taking some action and that Morag Campbell is coming to meet with us but I am also a little disappointed that we do not get to talk to someone who was actively involved in the decisions made about the Galloway Choir, as Ms Campbell can only pass on second hand reasoning and information.

“I, and other parents, are very keen to speak with Ms Campbell and we hope that she wants to start her time with NYCoS positively by helping the children of Galloway keep their local choir and enable them to continue with the hobby they so obviously love, evident by the fabulous performance they gave on Saturday night when the choir accompanied harpist Savourna Stevenson in the Ryan Centre.”