The Royal Air Force Voluntary Choir, ‘The Spitfires’ was established in 2010 by Flt Lt Harriet Tadikonda and is now run by a Committee of devoted volunteers of both serving members of the RAF and MOD Civil Servants.
With former Prime Minister Sir John Major as its Patron, the Choir was subsequently adopted by the RAF Charitable Trust in January 2011.
The Choir Members are a mix of MOD Civil Servants, RAF Personnel and Retired Officers, Airmen and Airwomen. The Military Personnel range from the rank of Senior Aircraftsman to Air Commodore and carry out roles from Technicians and Engineers to Personnel Support Officers and Padres. The Choir has around 30 members altogether, although not all members can always attend an event due to work commitments or being sent on detachment. The members come from across Europe and travel from all over the UK to attend the monthly rehearsals and events throughout the year.
Following the Spitfires inaugural concert in October 2010, held at St Clement Danes in London, the Spitfires have sung at a variety of concerts. In 2011 the Choir performed at a number of external events, including the Goodwood Revival, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Spitfire and an outdoor event at Chartwell (Churchill’s House), alongside the RAF Central Band for the event ‘Musical Salute to the RAF’. In 2012, the Choir performed at several high profile events including the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), the Bomber Command Memorial Event, the Guards Chapel in London and Westminster Hall.
The Choir were also involved in a number of major celebrations in 2012, such as the Queen’s Jubilee Celebration, joining The Glen Singers Choir (West Yorkshire). They performed patriotic and rousing tunes such as ‘I Vow To Thee My Country’ and ‘Jerusalem’, as well as 1940’s classics, ending the night with the audience singing along to ‘We’ll Meet Again’.
As an RAF Choir the dedication in June 12 of the new Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park was an event that they were eager to support. Invited to perform in the Bomber Command Salute, a day of music and celebration for around 7000 veterans of the Second World War, the day was headed by Carol Vorderman and included headline acts such as Blake. A hugely emotive performance, raising veterans and their families from their seats with wartime classics including ‘A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square’. It was an enormous privilege to be included in such an important day in memory of ‘The Few’.
The events the Choir perform at are hugely varied but all have one similarity, a love for music which will move an audience, and this was clearly evident at the pre-dinner drinks for the RIAT Gala Dinner. Singing as those attending the dinner arrived, the music was enjoyed by representatives of the world’s Air Forces. Performing a large set-list which allowed the full repertoire of the Choir to be heard, particular favourites included hits by Abba and Glenn Miller.
Additionally, in 2012 the Choir performed at a second Jubilee Celebration Concert at RAF Cosford, alongside the Countess of Wessex Orchestra; this saw the Choir tackle a number of more challenging pieces as well as a medley of songs from the West End Hit musical South Pacific.
The Spitfires feel very privileged to be supported by the RAF Charitable Trust. The RAF Charitable Trust is the youngest of the RAF Charities having formed in 2005. Its aims are to support the RAF to enhance the environment of serving personnel and their families; and a commitment to young people, to initiate and develop within them an enthusiasm for aviation and consequently generate a desire in them to join the RAF. As a result of their investment the Choir has not only continue running but we now have our very own specially designed regalia and we are able to attend events all over the UK.
The Little Princess Trust is also a Charity that we as a Choir support. The Charity provides real hair wigs to children suffering hair loss due to cancer treatment. For any parent, discovering your child has a serious illness like cancer or leukaemia is devastating. The trauma for both parent and child can be increased by worrying about the side effects of the treatment, particularly hair loss. As a Choir, we ensure that at every event we raise as much awareness about this Charity as possible and try to raise money where we can.
If you are interested in having the Choir perform at an event for you or perhaps you too have an enthusiasm for singing and wish to join the Choir; please go to our website www.rafspitfireschoir.org.uk (EGS) and follow the links.