John Morris

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A ONE-time environmental health officer working in Morley for Leeds City Council, John Morris became an inspirational figure in the world of community singing.

The Sing Live organisation he co-founded spread from the UK to the US, and one event he was particularly associated with was The Night of 1000 Voices at the Royal Albert Hall, first heard in 1999.

Mr Morris, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2010, died in Florida, aged 56.

The only child of Jim and Eileen Morris of Wakefield – his father was a local government officer – he went to Rothwell Grammar School and took up the piano.

At 17, he qualified as an Associate of the London College of Music, and while he earned his living as an environmental health officer, his real interest was music. He became involved in local amateur dramatics and was soon conducting musicals.

In his early 40s, he finally left his job with the council and set up the Northern Music and Theatre Company which gave its first concert 14 years ago, on June 21, 1998, in Leeds Town Hall.

His work expanded as more and more people were drawn into it by his enthusiasm and charisma. Then he attended a personal development course in New Orleans which gave focus and impetus to his aspiration of bringing the joy of singing to as many people as possible.

What came out of that was the creation of Sing Live UK, with groups being formed in different locations across the country, including Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, London and Belfast.

Each group had its own vocal coach, with Mr Morris visiting all of them and conducting the concerts they gave.

His reputation brought him to the attention of the director and producer Hugh Wooldridge who was planning an event to celebrate the centenary of the National Operatic and Dramatic Association.

He invited Mr Morris to bring 1,000 singers to the Royal Albert Hall for what became a spectacular biennial show, the most recent of which was held in May.

Since 2003, Sing Live participated in the Candlelight Processional at the Epcot Centre in Disney World.

The year 2007 saw the launch of Sing Live USA, with singers in Orlando and now Tampa Bay and three years ago Mr Morris went to live in Florida.

With his illness Mr Morris was less able to travel, and now had time to return to an interest in property which he had first developed while working with Leeds City Council. He qualified as a real estate agent, but music, remained centrally important to him, and in Orlando last year he conducted his last concert.

Mr Morris is survived by his parents.