Fever Pitch Saturday 15th September
What a thrill it was to have Fever Pitch come to St Marys, Sundridge. It was a magnificent evening of brilliant singing. Two war poems, “Lights Out” by Edward Thomas and “May 1915” by Charlotte Mew, both of which have been set to music by David Bednall as Songs of Remembrance, were read and then sung immediately after the reading, very beautiful and very moving.
The programme was superbly crafted and included, amongst others, Smoke gets in your eyes, My love is like a red red rose, Wonderful world, Leaving on a jet plane and Singing in the Rain.
Truely something for everyone and every piece sung wonderfully and with great passion. For the entire evening the Church was filled with beautiful music.

The Great Sundridge Village Hog Roast, Sunday 2nd September 2018 ​
The weather for the Hog Roast could not have been more perfect. The sun shone gently, bright enough to please but not to burn, there was just a little gentle warm breeze, the jazz band were brilliant, they played superbly and at just the right level, easy to listen to and easy to talk over, the pork was even better than usual, the crackling was divine and all this complimented by a superb collection of salads, red wine which was smooth and full but not overpowering, a white wine lovely and soft and chilled to perfection and the Coppernob beer from Tonbridge brewery was on top form. The atmosphere was delightful and I have no doubt that every one of the guests enjoyed the day enormously, certainly the letters and emails I have received indicate that a good time was had by all.

Guildhall visit, Thursday 17th May
The Friends arranged a guided tour of Guildhall on Thursday 17th May. The guided tour lasted a very generous hour and a half, the guide was charming, interesting and very informative.  The building has been for so long an important feature of London and it was a pleasure and a privilage to learn more. 

The Friends AGM was be held at 7.00pm, Friday 13th April 2018 at St Marys Church Sundridge
Talk by Bob Ogley, Doodlebugs and Rockets, 7.00pm, Friday 8th December 

​​The Friends were delighted that Bob Ogley very kindly agreed to give a talk on Friday 8th December 2017. Bob is an amazing and engaging speaker, and his talk was fascinating and hugely enjoyable. It was a wonderful evening!
The Great Sundridge Village Hog Roast, Sunday 10th September 2017 ​
The Great Sundridge Village Hog Roast was held at White Sheiling, Dry Hill Lane. The morning was sunny and full of hope. The Hog Roast and the Vegetarian options were served at1.00pm, both were delicious and accompanied by a choice of 14 different salads. To complete the day the Tonbridge Brewery’s Coppernob was beer poured straight from the barrel was excellent as was the red and white wine. Izzie Yardley entertained us beautifully throughout the afternoon and her singing was hugely enjoyed by us all. The only imperfection was a light shower in the early afternoon but there was enough shelter for everyone and it soon passed. The day would have been longer if only the weather had been a little warmer. There were around 100 people, ranging from not quite a babe in arms who is just 18 months to those a little older, one couple were celebrating their 57th wedding anniversary. The bouncy castle was well used and it was altogether a day of smiles and happy faces.
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John Rutter Come and Sing day 2017
What a brilliant day. John Rutter was on fine form and the choir responded well to his leadership improving throughout the day. John's wit, charm and obvious talent achieved the most from the choir, individual singers came together to form a choir to sing John's carefully selected pieces with enthusiasm and to good effect. The Church rang to the jubilant sound of a choir enjoying itself, what more could you ask for?

Even the weather was good, a slightly worrying start but the day turned out fine and allowed us to be outside and enjoying the sunshine during the breaks.  

A selection of photographs from the day below, click on picture to enlarge.

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Many thanks for your kind words about the day
I just wanted to say thank you so much for organising such a wonderful day today.  I feel very privileged to have been able to sing with John Rutter himself, who is absolutely charming beyond words and I loved all his anecdotes.  He truly is extremely generous in all ways and I hope that through him, your fundraising coffers have received a fantastic boost.
Thank you again and best wishes

Thankyou so much for organising, we have had a wonderful day. Fun, challenging and inspirational.

What a day! John Rutter is such an inspirational man & full of warmth & humour - my friend Philippa & I thoroughly enjoyed the day & would like to express our thanks to you [so pleased we met] & your fantastic team who made yesterday so special - believe me when I say I know how much effort goes into organising these events.  I hope you have found some time today to sit back & relax.
Thanks again for all your hard work, which made our day so enjoyable & the other 425 attendees!

My friend and I thoroughly enjoyed the day with John Rutter.  Thank you for all the organisation.

I just want to say thank you for the wonderful day spent with John Rutter on Saturday – it was a joy to be a part of it, and to sing with such a large number of people.  For my own curiosity, I would be very interested to know how many were there – it was such a wonderful sound.

I am writing to say thank you for your part in organizing such a wonderful day last Saturday. John certainly was inspiring, and also funny, encouraging and a creator of joy!

I just wanted to write and express my thanks to you and your wife and all the others involved in making the Singing Day at your church on 27 May so enjoyable and such a success.  It was such a treat to sing under John Rutter’s direction, and to experience him ‘in the flesh’ as the generous and warm person he evidently is.  His music has meant to so much to me and my wife and family over 30 years, and it was such a special day.  Two of my daughters would have come as well if we had given ourselves more notice and there had been space!
Thanks again and kind regards

I had a wonderful day - and took what I think is a nice pic with the sun shining in. Thank you so much for organising the day

Would you kindly pass on our thanks to Richard Dunckley and all the Friends of St Marys Church for the immense effort that went into making John Rutter's Choral Workshop such a fantastic success on Saturday. My fellow choristers from the Jubilate Choir West Wickham had a really enjoyable day. Well done everyone!

Just to thank you and your helpers for an excellent day singing with John Rutter.  This is the third occasion on which I have been to one of John's singing days and find them most inspiring. Looking forward to another one some time. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the day with John – it was my first experience of working with him.  What a great person he is – so warm and friendly, a great raconteur, and he genuinely seems to enjoy working with ‘ordinary’ people!  The Tonbridge Philharmonic Society have performed his works regularly over the years – we have used the European Sacred Music book and the 100 Carols for Choirs books many times.  It was good to sing some familiar pieces under John’s baton, as well as some not so well-known.  I did not know he had been to Sevenoaks before... if he comes again, I hope I will hear about it!  The organisation of the day was superb – thank you to all those who obviously did a lot of work in preparation.  I look forward to seeing some pictures in due course.
It was especially good to be in St Nick’s Church, which was my church when growing up in Sevenoaks.  I was christened, confirmed and married there, and my husband (Harold) was a choir-boy from a young age, and became Assistant Organist at the age of 16!  We met at the Youth Fellowship started by Revd Dick Lucas in 1952......

I had an absolutely brilliant time - I would love to do it again. To be under the direction of such as John Rutter was a real privilege. 

As an experienced chorister in classical and church choirs I have sung John's music in many forms and on many occasions, both large and small.  One thing I had never done until the singing day was to be conducted by John himself and this was my main motivation for attendance at St Nicholas.

The experience exceeded all my expectations in every way.  John's personality and choral conducting brilliance was evident throughout the day in every piece of music we sang, whether by him or in the other choral pieces he had chosen for the day.   What a very  generous musician he is.  I have seldom enjoyed a singing day more and will keep my eyes open for any other chance to sing in a choir for him.

Thank you for that info, Richard and more importantly thank you also so much for all the hard work you and your team did behind the scenes both before, during and after the event, which we all so enjoyed.  It was the second time I had attended, and was just as inspirational as the first.  What a wonderful opportunity to attend.

We 3 from Shoreham had a wonderful time.  John had such energy and verve to lead us ovet so many different eras of music but it was chiefly his own loved favourites we enjoyed. I bought the Japanese piece and we can add it to our repetoire.   Well done Sundridge

Yes, it was indeed a splendid day. I’ve managed to buy the music for all we sang except ‘Who is Silvia’ which I can’t source anywhere.

Thank you so much for organising this splendid Come and Sing day with John Rutter who as always was inspirational. I came with 5 other members of the Orpington Chorale and we all had a thoroughly enjoyable time and went home singing!  I do agree with you that a few words of praise and encouragement plus some well chosen professional advice from John improves the quality of one's singing enormously. I will be very interested in seeing the pictures of the day and I am sure these will reflect the happiness of us all.

A truly delightful day. thank you so much for organising this. 

It was a really enjoyable day and, for me, the singing of both familiar favourites and new arrangements was brilliant. My thanks go to Richard for ensuring that my daughter in a wheelchair could access the event and that we could park. My daughter and her friend from Manchester had sung many of the pieces together in their medical school choir so it bought back many happy memories. We were all impressed with the organisation of the event we experienced on the day and so a big thank you to all the volunteers who helped make the day so positive.

What a fantastic day.  We came to the last one too and thoroughly enjoyed them both.  I do a lot with Canterbury Festival and would very much like to arrange something similar for them; and did talk to John Rutter briefly about it, but I don't have an address for him. Jane Belle, who is a great friend and originally sent us the information about your previous day, said that she thought you did have it . I would be most grateful if you were able to pass it on as I could then give him a bit more information in the faint hope that he might take us on too. Many thanks for all your hard work in organising such a brilliant day

Thank you for organising such a perfect day. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience for a second time. It is such a pleasure seeing such an exuberant expert at work (or I should say play)

My friends and I would like to say thank you for a wonderful day.
Carol  Tonbridge Community Singers

Thank you for your kind words, too, and I agree with all you have said about John.  I have admired and followed his work since the first recording of the Cambridge Singers back in the early 1980's and play his Rutter Requiem and his Christmas carols (as well as singing them in our church choir) frequently.  Our Choir Director usually puts in a Rutter carol for me at Christmas as he knows how much I love them. I will look out for more singing days in the future!

Thank you all so much for arranging the day.  My son and I really enjoyed it and look forward to next time! 

Thank you for your lovely email.   John Rutter is not the only person who should be praised and thanked.   You and your wife worked extremely hard to make the day such a success too!   My friends I all had a wonderful experience.  Thank you.  

I had a great time at the Rutterfest in Sevenoaks, and as you said it's amazing how much a little praise, a few corrections and some words of wisdom from John improved our performance.

Following the event -- which could have done with more general publicity considering its size and scope -- I sent the following email to Radio 3's Petroc Trelawney, who kindly mentioned it on the breakfast show on 1 June.
It needs to be mentioned, if it hasn't already, that more than 400 choristers gathered at the St Nicholas church in Sevenoaks last Saturday to sing in company with the great composer John Rutter, who gave up his time to guide them through almost 20 choral pieces from Faure, Frank, Schubert, Mozart, Brucker, Rutter of course and even George Shearing, whom Rutter knew well and about whom he offered some funny anecdotes. 

The high spot for me was Bogoroditsye Dyevo by Rachmaninov (from his Vespers), in which the 40 basses contributed a key role, sounding, as Rutter said, like Cossacks, which we took as a compliment.

The wonderful event -- each chorister paid £20 for the privilege -- was in aid of St Marys Church, Sundridge, Kent.

It was, indeed, a fabulous day of music, singing and fun. John Rutter is another National Treasure to be feted and cosseted. The organisers were amazing: thank you.

Thank you so much for organising this event - I was so glad to have made the effort to keep the day free for this. I had a wonderful time, singing all my favourite pieces, learning a couple of new ones, unexpectedly meeting people whom I haven't seen for ages, and an enjoyable picnic in the fresh air and grounds of the church itself. And, of course, singing under the direction of John was fantastic.

I would like to say a big thank you for the day  that we spent in Sevenoaks singing with John Rutter. John really inspired us and when we came away we were buzzing with enthusiasm. We all felt that we had learnt so many new works and picked up lots of useful tips from him. As we are only from a very small church choir in Essex it was wonderful to sing with a large choir. Once again thank you for organising it and our thanks have to go to John - a very relaxed and pleasant man. Please keep us informed of any other days that you may organise in the future. 
Valerie, Helene, Alison & Rosayne  All Saint's Church, Cranham Essex

We went off to France after the Sing Day and arrived back this afternoon. Thank you both. It was a wonderful day and all your hard work setting it up was much appreciated! We look forward to the next one and hope that more old New Beacon parents will join the throng!!
Thanks again,
Penny and David 

Well done Richard it was a wonderful day - very inspiring and I just loved it all - thankyou for all your hard work.

We still find it hard to believe that we spent a day with John Rutter. My husband has been a fan of his since he was in his teens and I for a slightly shorter time. He is nearly 70 now. It is the first time he has sung with him although he has heard him before. We now sing his arrangements in our community choir. Thank you very much for a wonderful day.
Chris and Sarah

Many thanks for your email.  I would like to add my own thanks to you, your team and of course to John for putting on a wonderful and inspirational day.  It was an absolute joy and I went home on a real high!  A number of my friends from local choirs attended and we all felt this way and are still talking about it. I look forward to seeing pictures on the website in due course and to future events.

It was indeed a wonderfully uplifting day. Very many thanks to all who had a hand in arranging it.

It was an inspiring and uplifting day for all the reasons you mention. What an honour to spend a day in the company of the great John Rutter! Many thanks to you and Sally for organising it. 

I very much enjoyed the day – he is certainly an inspiration.

This singing day with John Rutter has been a day out of this world for us! We are not really back home, to be honest, a part of our soul is still in your beautiful church in Sevenoaks. We felt so honoured to be able to sing all these beautiful pieces so cleverly chosen with many excellent singers while John conducted us brilliantly. What a conductor, what a singer, what a composer! And such a simple gentleman! 
Our French friends were all very excited to hear all the details about "our day with him"! We felt very welcome and want to thank you for everything. Thanks again and best wishes to all of you.
Claude and Bernard France

John Rutter who is not only very talented but also charming.  It was altogether a wonderful day. I gather it was very successful on the fund raising front too:  So congratulations and thank you for organising this outstanding event
Barbara and Jonathan 

My friends and I had a great day ( yet again) really love his presence and humour but also his high expectations! Is there any possible way that we could sing any of his Christmas stuff next time - they are my favorite companions throughout the festive season and it would be fantastic to sing some of them, even if it was in May!

It was an inspiring wonderfully enjoyable day - my first experience of working with John Rutter who is clearly an amazing man and leader. Thank you very much for making it possible for me to attend. 

It was an amazing day - working with John is so uplifting.  He is such a wonderful musician and I really think he deserves a knighthood.  He has done so much for music in this country and everywhere so why hasn't this happened?  Anything you can do to promote this suggestion would be much appreciated!!!
Thank you again for all your hard work in the organising - it all went so well. Looking forward to the next one!

It was indeed a very enjoyable day – I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to ‘experience’ John Rutter – I have admired his music for some time. A very inspirational and rewarding few hours, which flew by. Thank you and your team for all you did to make the event happen and ensure everything went smoothly. A day to remember.
Kind regards

Thanks for this and thanks very much to you and your team who organised the day so well.  It was a joyous occasion and as you say, we all went out with smiles on our faces. Not only is he a brilliant composer and conductor, keeping us all in order with such style and good grace, he is a wonderful entertainer.  He told some extremely funny stories about other composers and against himself - my row of the basses were in stitches!
I attended his last workshop in Sevenoaks a few years ago but only stayed until lunch as I'd just started to sing and was feeling a bit out of my depth.  However, this time, the hours just flew by, such that, at the end I wanted more!  A marvellous day, a really good variety of pieces and such glorious fun. I would like to say a word about Peter Harlow, the pianist.  I assumed, like others, that he was a member of John's team but apparently is local, so did a great job with no rehearsals!
Once again many thanks to all the Friends of St Mary's Sundridge.