New Year's Honours for choir leader with Harrogate roots

A teacher with Harrogate roots who has established one of the most successful school choirs in England has been  awarded an MBE.

Alison North who is originally from Harrogate

Alison North remains a ‘Harrogate girl at heart’ after her time at Lindley Junior School in Huddersfield, where she has won numerous awards since founding the school choir 18 years ago.

Paying tribute to her musical roots in Harrogate, which include 15 years as lead soprano with Harrogate quintet, Quintessential, Mrs North thanked her family and teachers for their support.

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Mrs North said: “My parents were just fantastic supporters growing up, my mum Jean Wilkinson is a cello player and was part of the Harrogate symphony Orchestra, while my singing teacher was Marilynne Davies, who is very well known in the area.”

She added: “I have to say that I am still a Harrogate girl at heart, it was during my time at Rossett High School where I think I got my real start.

“I was a student when the Head of Music was Musette Roff, she was just so encouraging to everybody.

“If I had to say anything to anyone it’s just give it a go, music and singing is so much fun.

“You can just see pages after pages online how it benefits people. It just gives them a good feeling which everyone can enjoy.”

Growing up in Harrogate Mrs North attended Oatland Junior and Rossett High School, before studying at Reading University. She moved to Huddersfield in 1995.

Hundreds of children have now taken part in the choir, which has a main choir group of around 50 members and smaller linked groups.

These include training and community groups.

Claiming victory in competitions, including the BBC’s Songs of Praise Junior Choir, the Llangollen International Eistedffod and the Barnados Competition, the choir has gone from strength to strength.

This week, having been honoured for services to education, Mrs North has looked back, remembering how it all began.

Mrs North said: “I was just sitting playing the piano one day at Lindley Junior school in Huddersfield when the headteacher, Ms Pat Thompson, said I should start a choir.

“It really just went from there.

“Now it is a singing school, it’s at the heart of everything we do.

“The community group is made up of around 150 people aged eight and above.

“It is really special and is a bit of a family affair for us, as my daughter who is 10, and my husband also take part.”