The history of the Lowestoft Signing Choir

We are a mixed group of people. Some are Deaf, some Hearing, some Hard of Hearing and some of us have other related hearing difficulties.  We all have connections wth The Deaf Community, be it through our work, paid or voluntary, or family members/friends who are Deaf.


In 1998, nine of us got together at Christmas time to sign a few christmas carols and songs in Lowestoft's main town centre.  Five of these original members are with the Signing Choir today. 

 
 


Our aim was, and still is, to raise Deaf Awarness, and promote British Sign Language.  The response and interest from the local community was overwhelming and encouraged us to repeat the event every Christmas to date.


2003 saw the birth of The Lowestoft Signing Choir, and was a combination of students from Kirkley High School in Lowestoft, and friends and members from The Centre for Deaf People, Lowestoft.  Mr Alan Zipfel, who was Head of Music at Kirkley High School was a driving force behind us, and always has been a great mentor and supporter of the choir.  Mr Zipfel is also the organist at St Mark's church in Oulton Broad, where the choir perform regularly.
 
Each year our numbers have increased and we now have 45 members in the choir.  Most of us live in Lowestoft, however, several members travel from further afield.  Each booking has to be rehearsed for, and members usually attend six to eight practices for each event.  These sessions are hard work, but very rewarding.


 
We are all volunteers and perform at many local events.  Our repertoire is vast now and includes popular songs, hymns, war time songs, seasonal songs and carols.  We enjoy preparing new material and translating them into Sign Language, for instance, we performed at an Open Day for a local Marina, so learnt songs with a nautical theme.
 
In 2006 we were invited to London to attend The 'S' Factor, a Signing competition at The City Lit Institute. We entered the competition by signing 'Money, Money, Money' by ABBA, and we won, bringing a super trophy back to Lowestoft.  In April 2007 we were invited back to defend our title, and that's exactly what we did. First place again, and another trophy! This time we performed 'Tragedy' by the pop group STEPS. In the 2008 competition, we again came away delighted, this time with second place. We performed 'Under The Moon Of Love' by 'Showaddywaddy'.
 


We have performed at Henham Steam Rally (Country Fair), Heveningham Hall Country Fair, also Ickworth House & Gardens, and were very honoured to perform for The Duke & Duchess of Grafton at Euston Hall, near Thetford in 2007.  The Duchess is The Patron of The Suffolk Deaf Association. 
 
We perform free of charge, but donations are always gratefully received.