TEN In A Bar are marking their silver anniversary with a spring concert in Swindon. Let’s Celebrate will be a bitter sweet affair as one of the founder members, Steve Brain, is retiring after the show.

Steve said: “In 1992 when Ten In A Bar was formed I was heading the Languages Team at New College, so from the start I had to learn how to juggle the pressures of the day time job, which also included organising evening classes, with the demands of a choral director like Jill Hodge! What has been a real joy to me over the past 25 years in Ten in a Bar has been able to produce music of very high quality with a group of singers who are just as dedicated to being the best we can be!’’

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 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, mixing her love of music and drama and adding a sprinkling of humour, to form Ten In A Bar, so named because there were originally ten singers.r.

“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, who wanted to create something different and bijou.

“With the freedom to choose whatever material I liked I quickly developed an identity for the group – I suppose you might now call this a brand! Popular music from the 1940s to the present day hit list was our niche,’’ said Jill

For singer Helen Asprey the highlight of the last 25 years was only last year when Jill brought in Appalachian clogging.

Helen said: “Little did Jill know, when the initial concept of Morris Men v’s Ladies Appalachian, was born in her thoughts, she was in fact watching my sister dance with the group Shin Dig, in the deepest depths of Cornwall. When Jill returned to Swindon she said one of them looked a lot like me. That moment will stay with me for a long time.’’

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

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 Ten In A Bar.

He said: “I first began singing with Jill while still at school...it should be noted she was a very young teacher at the time! Jill had an impressive ability to recruit sixth form boys who had very little intention of appearing on stage. Years later I jumped at the opportunity to join Ten in Bar, having long been an admirer of both the wide musical repertoire and close harmony sound.’’

One of the singers Heather Reynolds has her talents based originally in dance. She said: “I found myself unexpectedly having a lesson with our then singing teacher, Sarah Jefferies, who apparently discovered a voice. The challenges and rewards associated with singing with Ten in a Bar become somewhat addictive.’’

Paul Skidmore, Liz Meek, Tracy Cuthbert, Alison Canning and founder members Peter Kent, Jane Kingstone, Sue Hills star in the anniversary show, which has the popular hospital A&E sketch set to the music of Les Miserables. The medley of songs has been re-worked, with lyrics by Gordon Hedge, to including the Staff Nurse Lament to I Dreamed a Dream and Master of the Knife to the original Master of the House.

Tickets to Let’s Celebrate are £14 from 01793 524481 or 01793 881798 or visit  www.swindontheatres.co.uk