Holmes Music is presenting a £1,000 Casio Digital Piano to the Kentwood Show Choir at a special concert to launch their official sponsorship of the singers.

The Swindon choir will be performing at the Blunsdon House Hotel on Sunday, September 23 at 7.30pm, in aid of The Willows counselling charity. John Holmes from the family-run music shop in Faringdon Road, Swindon, will be attending the concert to hand over the piano.

John and Kentwood's musical director Sheila Harrod met in the 1960s when they were both members of the Salvation Army Band. Sheila's father George Snook was the band master and John was the Torchbearer, looking after the youngsters in the Citadel aged 14 to 17 years.

John said: "It was at the same time that Sheila started the Kentwood Choir back in 1964. I have always admired Sheila and what she has achieved. It is amazing. She is a dedicated teacher and wonderful pianist in her own right.''

Sheila began teaching private students at home in her father’s front room and from these humble beginnings blossomed the Kentwood Show Choir, which now has jazz queen Cleo Laine as its president and 50 singers on its books.

All those years ago John made Sheila a promise. He said that if he won the lottery (pools as it was then) he would pay for her choir to perform at the London Palladium.

"I don't know how but I didn't win,'' said John, so now he has done the next best thing and become her official sponsor.

"If I had got her to the London Palladium she would have had so many admirers. People would be astonished at the quality of the singing of her choir. For years Kentwood has filled the Wyvern Theatre for its shows. Everyone in Swindon has heard of Kentwood,'' he added.

The choir may not have had their own show at the famous theatre, but the junior singers were chosen to back Philip Schofield in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the London Palladium, and Kentwood sang there again in the same year at the Royal Variety Performance before the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Sheila was thrilled to have her old friend on board as sponsor and delighted that John and his wife Jean would be her distinguished guests at the concert.

"It will be the first time that I play on the piano at our concert. It will be really exciting,'' said Sheila.

Alan Holmes from the music shop and John's son, said that they chose this piano not only because it was top notch for sound, but easy for Sheila to carry around when performing at different venues.

Alan said: "It is a professional stage piano and will do what ever Sheila wants. It is a Casio, which has teamed up with Bechstein, one of the most prestigious piano makers in the world.''

The music shop and the choir have worked together on many occasions over the years including the Old Town Festival and for 23 years Kentwood sang at the Holmes Music Christmas Show in Blunsdon.

The Kentwood Show Choir concert is to raise money for The Willows counselling, which was one of the late Rex Barnett former mayor's charities. His wife Sandra continues his work by organising the annual concert. Tickets are £8 from 01793 722320. - Flicky Harrison