Preaching to the choir


The Sunday Express reports…

“The ambience of calm within the walls of St Giles’s Church has been enjoyed by the people of Wrexham for more than 500 years.

There are medieval treasures on its walls, a notable philanthropist is buried in one of the tombs and the 16th-century church tower is known as one of the seven wonders of Wales.

Pic:Sunday Express

Now a sorry new chapter is being written, however. Its choir is in crisis after musical director Jacqui Blore was told to go after 17 years.

The choristers are so upset they have quit, except for Ms Blore’s mother, who turned up only because her daughter told her to.

For the first time in 300 years there was no choir over the festive season and today the pews installed just two years ago at the cost of tens of thousands of pounds, will again sit empty.

This most unholy of rows blew up in April last year when Ms Blore, 46, St Giles’s director of music since 1997, fell ill with depression and stress.

In August the Wrexham Parochial Church Council made her redundant, allegedly to save money.

Ms Blore claims the church has enough grant money to fund her job for at least five more years. She also says it failed to follow proper redundancy procedures, did not warn her she faced losing her job and did not give her the correct pay-off.

She alleges unfair dismissal and will face church leaders at an industrial tribunal in March.

“I did not ever want it to come to this,” said Ms Blore. “All I want is my job back. It is a job I loved doing. It has been wonderful to have the support of the choir and that is one of the things that has kept me going.

“You expect to get support and compassion and pastoral care from a church but while I was in the depths of depression I was made redundant and got no help at all.

“My grandparents and parents worshipped at St Giles’s. I was baptised and confirmed there, our family have gone there all our lives.

“At the first choir performance after I was dismissed the only member of the 14 to turn up was my mother Ann.

“I had told her she had to go, she was very reluctant.”

Matthew Ellis, 41, a former member of the choir, said: “The role of director is a vital one, especially at St Giles’s, which has a rich choral tradition. For it to be withdrawn is scandalous.

“Jacqui worked so hard for that church. After concerts she would be there until one in the morning putting the staging back for the next day’s service with next to no help from anyone.”

Last week St Giles’s website was still advising readers: “Forgiveness and reconciliation are at the heart of faith.”

Yet Tudor Williams, the solicitor who will represent Ms Blore at her tribunal, says the way she was dismissed was “grossly unfair”, adding: “It is not something you expect from people wearing the cloth.”

The Rev. Kate Tiltman, assistant curate at St Giles’s, said: “After a staffing restructure a number of singers decided they did not want to be part of the choir any longer, leaving us with too few choristers to carry on.

“Despite the attempts of other church members to keep it going we have decided that, for the moment, the choir is not viable.

“We hope to welcome new choir members to St Giles in the future to keep the choral tradition alive.”

Until then, she said, the congregation is “really enjoying taking the responsibility for the singing”. She went on: “In 2014 we have a huge programme of concerts planned, even doing the Mozart Requiem, so the musical tradition of this historic place of worship will continue to thrive.

“As the matter over the redundancy of a member of staff is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further….”



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