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Church choir quits in row over CRB check 'sackings'

By Western Gazette - Yeovil  |  Posted: March 15, 2012

SOMBRE SINGERS: Jenny Hansford, former musical director of St Michael's and All Angels Church choir, pictured centre with former choir members Sandra Woodward, left, and Wendy Warr, who say they are confused as to why the choir's performances have come to a halt

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Choir singers say they are searching for a new place of worship after their Sunday performances were suddenly stopped.

Jenny Hansford is quitting her role of musical director of St Michael's and All Angels Church in Yeovil, blaming a row over CRB checks.

Mrs Hansford, who also plays the organ at the church on St Michael’s Avenue, said she handed in her notice after her attempts to resolve the dispute between choir members and the vicar, Rev James Baker, failed.

She rubbished claims in last week’s Western Gazette that members resisted the vicar’s ideas to modernise one Sunday service of the month.

She claimed Mr Baker “sacked” two older members of the choir after they rejected his requests to complete CRB forms.

She said: “At the end of a Sunday morning service in January, the vicar asked them to complete the forms and they stood firm and said they were not required. Mr Baker imme diately said, ‘in that case you are immediately sacked from the choir’.

“We were absolutely shocked by this. They told me they have spent more than 100 years between them singing in the choir and they knew they were not required to complete the CRB check.

“I have two new talented children who came into the choir and within two weeks there was no choir for them to sing with. They are devastated.”

Mrs Hansford, who intends to stand down at the end of the month, said she searched the internet for the correct procedure on CRB checks and discovered, as musical director, she was the only one who should have one due to her contact with children.

Despite the two men agreeing to rejoin the choir, Mrs Hansford, of Marnhull, claims Mr Baker and the church wardens decided the entire nine-strong choir should stand down with immediate effect.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Bath and Wells told the Western Gazette last week the choir was in a “cooling-off period” because some members had resisted Mr Baker’s ideas to introduce chanting from a Christian community in France into one Sunday service of the month.

He said the “modern” additions were an effort to attract more people from the community to the church.

But Mrs Hansford said the Taizé chanting had already been introduced into the choir’s repertoire.

She added: “Since Father Baker came to St Michael’s, the choir has included Taizé music and therefore would have had no objection to it being incorporated in a monthly service.

“There was no meeting with the choir to inform them of these plans, so I disagree with suggestions that they were met with resistance. The choir has such a history of music. I’ve tried very hard to uphold that tradition. We are all left in the dark.”

Mr Baker joined the church in 2010. He has declined to comment, referring the Western Gazette to the Diocese of Bath and Wells. The diocese said it did not want to comment further from the statement published in last week’s edition.

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  • siarad2  |  March 15 2012, 6:33PM

    I thought we were innocent until proven guilty now it seems you're guilty unless you prove your innocence. A slippery slope What next fill out a form to say when you last beat your wife. Fill it out & you're guilty refuse & you're still guilty.

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  • RobinReplying  |  March 15 2012, 3:07PM

    Don't want to fill out a CRB ?? Fair enough, it's obviously a matter of (guilty) concience ......

    |   -5
  • harveysMaster  |  March 15 2012, 11:51AM

    The CRB is a pretty useless form. It only says you have no convictions it says nothing about your character. There must be a reason for this and I would always be suspicious of someone not wanting to do some thing. What have they got to hide??? There will also be a record of their refusal to fill the form in.

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  • budyjaker  |  March 15 2012, 10:54AM

    its always good to have a crb - why the fuss about filling in a form - thats stupid. i agree with the vicar!

    |   -1