A group of like minded singers got together 25 years ago under the leadership of Swindon's Jill Hodge to form Ten In A Bar.

The close harmony group, aged from 17 years, each spring pull off a full scale show mixed with funny sketches and harmony singing. This year, to mark their silver anniversary, Ten In A Bar are presenting Let's Celebrate at The Arts Centre, Devizes Road in Old Town from Valentine's Day to Saturday, February 17.

Jill said: "I cherish the work I do with the group, not only because they are all excellent singers, but because we share the same principles of discipline, dedication and a deep love of harmony singing.''

Jill grew up in Cheshire and says that it was her grandmother who first taught her to sing when she was just seven.

When she was at school her teachers encouraged her to study drama but she was adamant she wanted to become a musician. So she learned to play the piano, clarinet, harpsichord and of course vocals.

Jill said: "My teachers thought I’d be better suited to a drama degree. Maybe they saw something in me that I didn’t realise at the time – that, I am interested in the whole stage experience and not just music.''

Jill graduated with a BA honours degree in music and became a teacher in Swindon setting up The Ridgeway School Choir and the Swindon Songsters alongs with the 100-strong community choir for the Wyvern Theatre, and then in 1992 she pulled all the strands together. She got a bunch of singers added a dash of her own wicked sense of humour and Ten In A Bar was born.

"I am so very proud of TIAB and all the wonderful singers and musicians who have helped me to fulfil my dreams and aspirations,'' said Jill.

All the singers have varied musical careers or stage experience including founder member Peter Kent, who sang with professional harmony group Panache. Peter performed at The Savoy, on television and for summer seasons before returning to Swindon in the early 1990s and joining Ten In A Bar.

He said: "I can’t believe we have notched up so many years as a group but put it down to being a friendly team who enjoy making beautiful sounds. Oh, and the comedy element is a favourite of mine, too.''

Pianist and assistant director of the group is Kirstie Smith, who joined three years ago.

She said: "My grandad was a musician who owned Kempster's Music Shop. I adored listening to Nana's beautiful soprano voice, and the yearly visits to watch my aunt and uncle in local G&S productions were always an exciting highlight.''

Kirstie studied music herself, becoming Head of BTEC Performing Arts at New College in Swindon. She also played in cover bands including Helter Skelter, Mirage, Us Limited and Pop of Ages. "I even performed in Kuala Lumpur with an Annie Lennox Tribute,'' she said.

Martin Read, who recently worked with singer/songwriter Rob Richings, providing backing vocals for the EP Halfway Up and the album 'Parkas and Boots, both of which have been played on national radio, is also a stalwart of the Swindon music scene.

Other singers are: Heather Reynolds, Helen Asprey, Paul Skidmore, Liz Meek, Tracy Cuthbert, Alison Canning and founder members Jane Kingstone, Sue Hills and Steve Brain who will be retiring from the group this year.

Steve worked at New College for 24 years ending up as a Curriculum Manager in charge of Languages, English and Humanities and a team of 57 FT and PT staff. He took early retirement in 2008.

Steve said: "Group singing is the most exhilarating and transformative of all. It takes something incredibly intimate, a sound that begins inside you, shares it with a roomful of people and it comes back as something even more thrilling: harmony.

Hey! that explains the massive kick I've had for more than 60 years of singing in choirs and groups all over the country.''

As part of the anniversary show the group have brought back their popular hospital A&E sketch set to the music of Les Miserables.

Jill says they are lucky to have a band of excellent musicians including Steve Parker, Andy Griffiths and James Agg, to accompany the singers.

Tickets to Let's Celebrate are £14 from 01793 524481 or 01793 881798 or visit www.swindontheatres.co.uk - Flicky Harrison