A Royal Naval officer and his wife will be performing together at this year’s annual festival of remembrance in Plymouth.
Georgina Turner of the Plymouth Military Wives Choir will be joined by her husband Lieutenant Gary Turner, of Plymouth-based HMS Somerset at the Pavilions in Plymouth for what will be a memorable event for all concerned.
Georgina, a business woman from Kingsbridge, Devon, will be singing at the annual remembrance concert at Plymouth Pavilions on Friday November 9th. The choir will be conducted by her husband. Gary, who will be celebrating his 40th birthday on the night of the concert, is serving as the deputy logistics officer in HMS Somerset, a Type-23 Frigate based in Devonport.
The choir’s usual conductor, Rob Young will be conducting an ensemble made up of several Military Wives Choirs at the Royal Albert Hall for the National Remembrance Concert so Gary, an ex Royal Marines musician volunteered to step in and help out the award-winning ensemble. The Plymouth Festival of Remembrance, organised by the Federation of Plymouth and District Ex Services, will feature the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Band Plymouth and the Plymouth Military Wives Choir in addition to other local youth and military organisations.
Having just performed at the Classic Brit Awards at the Royal Albert Hall, at which the Military Wives Choir won the award for ‘Single of the Year’, Georgina is very proud to be singing at the Pavilions again: “I joined the choir earlier this year and have had some amazing experiences already. Singing at the Royal Albert Hall with Gary Barlow, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Gareth Malone was unbelievable and an event I will never forget.”
The choir are very proud of their Plymouth roots. Georgina added: “We love coming back to Plymouth to our local crowd and always get a fabulous reception here in the Westcountry. The choir has gone from strength to strength over the past year and it’s hard to take it all in sometimes. We did the national event for Armed Forces Day 2012 up on Plymouth Hoe in front of over 20,000 people and also performed at the Army-Navy Rugby match at Twickenham to a 60,000 strong crowd!”
Whilst the road may have been difficult at times, support from their military partners has been a great help: “Our husbands have been looking after the children whilst we go off singing, which has been a real role reversal for some; but they have been wonderful and encouraging throughout. We have received so much appreciation from the general public too which has been very humbling at times,” she said.
Gary formerly served with the Band of HM Royal Marines Plymouth as a percussionist prior to transferring to the Royal Navy as a Logistics Officer in 2009. Gary, who has played all over the world, said: “The Pavilions was my favourite local venue when I was in the RM Band Service. We always got an appreciative and lively audience and it was also where I performed my last concert as a ‘Bandy’. To have the opportunity to conduct my wife as part of the wonderful Military Wives Choir, on my 40th birthday, in front of my old comrades, is truly amazing. The ladies have come so far and have so much support locally and nationally; they have really touched the nation’s heart.’’
He added: “It is easy to remember those serving on operations around the globe, but the wives and families left behind were often forgotten in the past. Having left to serve in Afghanistan when our son was only seven weeks old, and having spent six months out in Bahrain recently, I know the strain that Service life can put on a family. In addition to dealing with all of the running of the family home and bringing up our children, military wives have the worry of something happening to us. I’m very proud to be able to give something back to support these ladies,” he added.
In addition to performing on TV and at local and National venues, the choir have also recently recorded their latest album ‘Stronger Together’ to be released in early November. The choir’s other albums ‘Wherever You Are’, ‘In My Dreams’ and the Queen’s Jubilee CD ‘Sing’ shot to the top of the charts raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for Service charities including the Royal British Legion (RBL) and the Soldiers’, Sailors’, and Airman’s Families’ Association (SSAFA).
Chairman of the Federation of Plymouth and District Ex Services, Basil Downing-Waite said: “This year’s festival will once again give the people of Plymouth and the surrounding areas the opportunity to acknowledge the sacrifices made by members of their forces in the past to give us our freedom. It will also acknowledge the sacrifices currently being made by our forces, placing themselves in the face of danger on our behalf to ensure freedom and make the world a safer place for us all”.
The annual event, which has been held for more than 35 years, will pay tribute to those that fell in the two Great War’s and other conflicts since including, more recently, Iraq and Afghanistan. In the words of the choir’s latest album, we truly are ‘Stronger Together’.
Having sailed in August 2011 and returning in February this year, HMS Somerset has been conducting maritime security operations, ensuring freedom of navigation to merchant vessels in the world’s busiest trade routes. Following three consecutive deployments to the Middle East within three years, Somerset has just emerged from dry dock. She is currently undergoing a planned support period, undertaken by Babcock Marine, to conduct scheduled maintenance and system upgrades, ready for operational tasking on completion.