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Choir programme “has released hidden talents,” says airport chaplain

Rev George Lane who also sang in the TV choir competition, forsees lasting benefits for Manchester Airport ...

Those who watched BBC2’s The Choir: Sing While You Work last autumn will have noticed that two of the four competing choirs – Manchester Airport and Lewisham Hospital – included their respective chaplains.

Rev George Lane, Manchester Airport’s chaplain since March 2012 (pictured second from right with the choir) forsees lasting benefits for his organisation, with the programme conveying a dynamic and fun workplace where people took their work seriously, but were so much more than simply the function they performed.

“One choir member spoke of the choir giving them a reason to look their children in the eye and say: ‘I’m more than the job I do,” said George.

“It’s released hidden talents and revealed a different side to the individuals involved and therefore to the wider organisation.  It’s also revealed how much dedication there is in an organisation like this – and how that kind of solidarity and spirit depends on a sense of community.”

Following the Manchester choir’s semi-final elimination, members were disappointed. “But, from that moment,” says George, “there evolved a sense that we were no longer doing this for Gareth Malone [the choir master] or for the television; we were doing this for ourselves, for our airport – but even more, for our colleagues and friends.

“I fully believe, that the high spots are still ahead of us. We have been auditioning for new members and are growing in confidence, ability, commitment and aspiration.”

Rev Malcolm Hancock (Lewisham Hospital chaplain) is less certain of the future. “Only time will tell whether there will be lasting benefits. But I know the existence of the choirs, its achievements and quality, and of course its TV appearances, have brough great pride and excitement. I would like to think it will continue to be a source of solace, pride and commitment.”

Many of the most interesting exchanges around the choirs took place off-screen.

"People would never think of an airport as a profoundly spiritual place or a place of prayer, but it really is,” says George.

“I’ve listened (and talked) about Milton with an airfield colleague, and God’s forgiveness with firefighters.”

George said his involvement with the choir has widened his range of contacts – the perfect opportunity to get to know colleagues really well.

  • BBC 2’s The Choir: Sing While You Work competition was won by Severn Trent Water.

(This article appears in the January 2013 issue of CRUX magazine published by the Diocese of Manchester and is used with permission.)


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