New Year's Honours: BEM for choir champion Rachel Copley

A MUSICAL marvel who once conducted a choir of 6,000 fun runners was given a Christmas present to savour when she was awarded the British Empire Medal.

Rachel Copley (pictured), of Crossland Gardens, Tickhill, is the musical director of Rotherham Choral Society.

In 2009, she was named president of Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus an honorary position awarded for life in recognition of her musical contribution to the community.

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A year earlier, she had led the choir and conducted “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to the massed runners preparing for a Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life run.

Rachel said she had found out about her honour last month and had kept the secret to herself, planning to tell her nearest and dearest over Christmas.

“I think my family will be thrilled but it’s a huge surprise to me,” she said.

I’ve no idea who nominated me. It may be someone from any of the choirs I’m involved with.”

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As Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus president, she she leads, supports and motivates the largest choir in Sheffield.

Her work involves working with professional and amateur musicians and orchestras to accompany the choir in concerts, but she also supports and nurtures young talent.

A keen supporter of charities, she often leads choirs at local funerals, weddings, charity events and even the Olympic Torch Relay in 2012, when Sheffield choir chair Julie Smedhurst, who is blind, took part in the grand event.

“I have been there at many special moments,” she said.

Rachel took over as Rotherham Choral Society’s musical director in 2000, but has been a singing member of the Sheffield choir for more than 40 years.

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A long-standing teacher of music in schools and colleges, she admitted her style as musical director was “strict but with a lot of humour”.

She is expected to pick up her BEM at Buckingham Palace next year.

q Rotherham Choral Society, which has 55 members from a range of backgrounds, is open to new members and rehearses at Herringthorpe United Reformed Church at 7.15pm on Wednesdays.


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