SWINDON men are being urged to take the plunge and join an award-winning amateur male choir.

The Wessex Male Choir, based in Abbey Meads, has won numerous top-level competitions and awards, and its lively performances have entertained audiences across the region.

Paul Gahan has been singing with them for four years and says he can’t imagine life without it.

“I’ve sung at Twickenham in front of 80,000 people. I’ve sung in cathedrals, concert halls and churches all over the country and abroad,” he said.

“I’ve won major choral competitions, made the most amazing friends and, yes, I wish I’d joined 10 years earlier.”

He thinks people are often put off signing up because they feel they won’t be up to the right standard. But television series about choirs, popularised by maestros such as Gareth Malone, means it has never been more enticing.

“There’s no denying it can be an intimidating thing joining a choir with a reputation like the Wessex, especially so for anyone who isn’t particularly musical,” he said.

“My wife spent six years trying to persuade me to join, but I kept insisting the standard was too high for me.

“Eventually a chance encounter with a Wessex chorister on a windswept touchline at an U7’s rugby festival persuaded me to turn up for a rehearsal and give it a go.”

It wasn’t plain sailing, but Paul overcame his fears and got stuck in.

“I nearly walked out of my first rehearsal I was so terrified.

“I‘d never heard the piece I was supposed to be singing and I didn’t have a clue if I was singing the right notes or not.

“But with encouragement from other the other singers, I stuck it out, eventually passed my audition and made it to concert standard.

“It was hard work – there’s no use pretending it was easy – but the support structure and learning aids at the Wessex are superb and you never have to cope alone.”

The group is starting to learn songs for the Christmas concert season and urges men to sign up.

Find out more at www.wessexmalechoir.co.uk