Kathleen’s final Kelbrook concert

Choir master and former music teacher, Kathleen Bannister, centre, who is preparing Kelbrook's choir for their annual Christmas concert. Kathleen says this will be her last as choir master
Choir master and former music teacher, Kathleen Bannister, centre, who is preparing Kelbrook's choir for their annual Christmas concert. Kathleen says this will be her last as choir master
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A Kelbrook choir master is preparing to lead the village’s choir for the final time at a Christmas concert next week.

Kathleen Bannister (87) will lead the Kelbrook Church choir at the annual “Carols for Christmas” concert on Tuesday at 6-30pm St Mary’s Church before she passes on the baton and steps down.

Mrs Bannister, know as Miss Astin to many who passed through Barnoldswick Secondary Modern during her 12 years teaching there, has been choir master at Kelbrook for the last five years.

But she has been involved with music all her life, starting singing lessons at a young age.

Her mother was a singer and her uncle was Earby man Edwin Firth, regarded as one of the finest cornetist in the country prior to his death in the First World War.

She studied in London for seven years, and then taught in Skipton for one before moving to Barnoldswick for more than a decade where Mrs Bannister met and then married husband Frank, Head of English at Barnoldswick Secondary Modern.

She later taught at Walverden and Walton High Schools in Nelson.

Even outside of school, Mrs Bannister continued to immerse herself in the Pendle music scene and led the Barnoldswick Ladies’ Choir for eight years and after retiring was a violinist in Colne Orchestra, alongside Frank who was a cellist.

On the concert, Mrs Bannister said: “It’s a work of a great love and affection is that choir. I have loved doing it so much. They are a marvellous bunch. But I feel I can’t do it any longer.

“Everybody has been working hard for the concert. It’s a beautiful little church and it’s all festively decorated. It’s lovely acoustically.”

But Mrs Bannister has vowed to continue on playing the piano and organ at the weekly Sunday service at Kelbrook church, adding: “I will do the best I can.”

Tuesday’s concert will, as usual, feature all your festive favourites. Mince pies and mulled wine will be served and entry is free.

Donations are welcome for church funds, in particular to go towards work in the new year for new facilities including a toilet and coffee-making area.