West stars of unique choir

Two West Country singers are part of a unique Christmas choir who have made global headlines.

The choir’s singers can never meet – but they are aiming to top the album charts this Christmas as part of Choirs with Purpose’s album Stand Together.

Called the Cystic Fibrosis Virtual Choir, they are unable to appear together be- cause they risk passing life-threatening infections to each other.

That is because they all live with the life-shortening, inherited condition cystic fibrosis, which leads to a severely reduced quality of life and life expectancy.

The Cystic Fibrosis Virtual Choir is one of 12 charity choirs featured on the album. Sales will help to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the other charities involved.

Tom Skeldon, 12 from Saltash, Cornwall, said: “One of the hardest things about living with cystic fibrosis is the isolation; you can never physically meet the only people who really under- stand what it’s like.

“It requires me to undertake rigorous physiotherapy and medication.

“Each day, I spend around 30 minutes doing breathing exercises, and take between 30 and 40 tablets as well as using nebulisers and inhalers.

“But having cystic fibrosis has never stopped me from trying to realise my dreams. I feel really lucky to have been part of this wonderful project. It was a great experience.”

Charles Michael Duke, 22 from Bournemouth, said: “I started singing when I was five and it really lifts my mood and cheers me up.

“I also believe it is good for my lungs as it opens them up.

“It is a type of deep breathing exercise which I feel helps to strengthen my lungs.” Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition and people with it need a vast daily intake of drugs and time-consuming daily physiotherapy. They must be isolated from others with the condition and live each day knowing it can escalate at any moment. To ensure the Cystic Fibrosis Virtual Choir were able to safely perform their album track – a cover of One Voice by the Wailin’ Jennys – each singer went into the
recording studio separately.

They were recorded in isolation and the entire studio was then deep-cleaned and aired before the next person began.

Producer James Hawkins matched each solo performance, mixing them together for the exclusive track.

Both lads were also part of a remake of Paul McCartney’s We all Stand Together with Pop Idol finalist Michelle McManus.

Oli Lewington of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust said: “The choir members will never be able to meet face-to-face because of the risk of passing deadly bugs to one another, but thanks to the incredible dedication of Choirs with Purpose, people with cystic fibrosis have been able to come together and sing as one.”

You can buy the single We All Stand Together at http://smarturl.it/WeAllStandTogether
The album Stand Together is available at https://IDOL.lnk.to/StandTogether

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.