About Us

Meet the team behind the Mid Wessex Singers

Graham Coatman

Musical Director

After 25 years as composer, musical director, choral trainer, teacher, accompanist and continuo player in Yorkshire, Graham Coatman relocated to the South West in 2017 and has been Musical Director of Mid Wessex Singers since September 2017.

Director of Leeds Guild of Singers for some 17 years, he established a vibrant choir performing music from medieval to new commissions, whose last season included all 6 of Bach’s motets, appearances at European festivals, and an original historically informed performance of Handel’s Messiah described as “powerful and moving”. He has also directed community choirs, prison choirs, and, for instance, a Choral Spectacular for the 50th anniversary of Leeds Methodist Choir in Leeds Town Hall with over 250 performers, including massed choirs, brass band, soloists and instrumentalists.

An innovative composer, amongst recent works is Being Inbetween, a sound installation for an award winning photographic installation created by photographer and digital artist Carolyn Mendelsohn, which toured UK and abroad. Graham is Director of HISS – the Historically Informed Summer School, which he founded in 2010 and which in 2017 welcomed participants from four continents. He is Director of 20,000 Voices, a small charity promoting singing through workshops and projects, which was involved in a 2 year European choral training scheme, ADDUP, with Erasmus+ funding, working with partner organisations in France, Italy and Poland.

Sheena Smith

Accompanist, Committee Member

Sheena graduated with a B. Mus. from Edinburgh University, then P.G.C.E. from Homerton College, Cambridge.  She began her teaching career in Cambridge at the two Sixth Form Colleges, then moved to Somerset, mostly in Secondary music teaching.  Highlights of those years included being Musical Director of very successful school productions, with some challenging musicals such as Blood Brothers and Sweeney Todd.

Later, with the Somerset Music Service, she taught mostly woodwind, but included some class teaching, ages 7 to 17.  Sheena spent many years enjoying being in charge of the musical fun and games for the local Long Sutton Pantomime Society before joining Mid Wessex singers as accompanist.

Pauline Stephens

Chair

I just love to sing, I first sang at my school St Monica’s at Warminster.

I have been farming all my life, My husband and I moved to Somerton in 1995 where we still farm along side other business enterprises with our son Cameron. I joined MWS in 2017 and invited to join the committee in 2019. We are a really friendly choir, so pleased I am a member for the social aspect as well as the singing.

Rowena Wallace

Secretary

From singing in the school choir, and years later overcoming my then toddler’s protestations when I used to sing, I’ve taken part in various Somerton pantomimes and Christian musicals. I was a member of St. Michael’s church choir, becoming a lonely alto when no-one else would sing the part. I was a member of the original Wessex Singers, but left when the singing got too difficult! I eventually joined the renamed Mid Wessex Singers and now enjoy trying to rise to the challenges our Conductor gives us.

Steph Taylor

Treasurer

My love of singing started in my teenage years, when I sang with my school and church choirs. A busy career and family life meant that, apart from two brief periods with choirs in Nottinghamshire and Somerset, I did not rekindle that love until my mid-fifties.

I joined Mid Wessex Singers in 2005 and at about the same time I started singing with the choir at Somerset County Council, which is where I was working at the time. Upon retirement I became a member of a community choir so I now enjoy the challenges and the full range of music offered by the two choirs.

As well as singing I enjoy gardening and landscaping, needle-craft, watching, and sometimes scoring for, cricket matches, sailing round the Greek Islands and walking.  My husband and I are gradually walking our way around the South West Coast Path, sampling locally made carrot cake along the way.

Sherrie-jane Jackson

Committee Member, Marketing

I was an original member of the choir in 1999 for about four years and left for personal reasons. I have now re-joined and am very much enjoying my time there. I was many years ago in the Luton Girls’ Choir and over the years have been in various amateur productions of musicals.

I have been a member of the Rotary Club for about 13 years and help with various community events particularly the Forget Me Not Café, a memory café in Langport which is run by the Rotary Club but was started by me because of my own personal experience of dealing with Alzheimer’s. I have been in business for many years, and to date run my own Lingerie and Bra Fitting Service.

Reg Athill

Committee Member

I began singing at school when the music mistress said ‘you will join the choir’! That was many years ago when, against my better judgement, I enjoyed it and have been singing, on and off, ever since. As a teenager I joined the local Church choir and the also the local Choral Society.

In my twenties I married and moved from Berkshire to Dorset where, for some years, I sang tenor in the Wimborne Minster Choir. I eventually had to give that up because of time constraints as I started my own business. During the early days there wasn’t time for singing, when building the business and having a growing family so something had to give. I was subsequently the organist and choirmaster at a number of small churches in the Wimborne area but, again, pressures of work forced me to give it up.

My company is still going, providing specialist telephone equipment for people like Network Rail and Transport for London. Its only since I’ve semi retired to Somerset that there has been time to take up singing, piano and guitar again – all needing a lot of practice and the hopeful recovery of old skills.

When I realised what I had been missing for so many years I joined the Mid Wessex Singers and I found them to be most friendly and sociable group, led by their talented and enthusiastic conductor. I was then asked to join the committee which I did at the 2018 AGM.

Rose Burt

Committee Member, Librarian

I have always loved singing and as a child sang at home and in the school choir.  As an adult I sang in the choir at St Michael’s Church, Somerton and for 26 years taught pre-school children to sing nursery rhymes.  I have been a member of Mid Wessex Singers since 2007 and joined the committee in 2019.

David Backhouse

Committee Member

I joined the church choir at St Judes in Halifax as a boy which is where I learned to love music. I was subsequently ejected from the church and school choirs when my voice broke at age 12 and my singing days came to a halt as a youth as my time was devoted to sports. I subsequently joined the RAF in which I happily served as an engineering officer for 30 years. It was during a tour in Germany that I joined a choir to sing some choral concerts which I thoroughly enjoyed. 30 years later I became friendly with a choir member who encouraged me to join the MWS in 2014. My lack of an ability to read music well has not discouraged me and I have thoroughly enjoyed the choir

Latest News

Celebrations in Spring

We welcomed a full audience to join us in our Celebrations in Spring at St Michael's Church, Somerton on Saturday 28 April. The concert was a delectable Spring salad mix of singing, accompanied either by string ensemble, organ or by our pianist, Sheena Smith and...

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Mid Wessex Singers’ Summer Term

If you are interested in joining to sing a summer medley of music we are rehearsing on Tuesday evenings 7.30 to 9 pm at the West Street Church Hall in Somerton from 15 May to 26 June inclusive. Our performance will be an informal one at our choir social for family and...

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Spring Concert

Our Spring Concert date has just been announced! Join us on Saturday 28th April at 7.30pm and enjoy the music from Purcell, Monteverdi and more. Full details below. Questions? Please contact us....

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