Inspired by Captain Tom, Frances Provost has been walking laps of her garden in lockdown to raise £10,000 for the Southwell Minster Choir Association while helping her own rehabilitation following a stroke which left her partially paralysed just before Christmas last year.
Two marathons walked, a £10,000 fundraiser and plans to set up a new junior choir: Southwell Minster’s music department gets a huge boost.
Frances Provost is the mother of Paul Provost, the Rector Chori at Southwell, and a member of the Southwell Minster Choir Association, and knows only too well the impact the coronavirus has had on the cathedral’s choral tradition.
Frances, 77, suffered a stroke last December which left her paralysed down her left side. She was inspired by Captain Tom’s fundraising efforts in lockdown and decided to undertake two marathons by walking laps of her garden to help the choral life of Southwell.
She completed the 2,396 laps needed on September 7 and has so far raised over £3,000 of her target figure.
On her fundraising page, Frances explains:
“On Friday 13th December 2019, I suffered a very severe stroke; by the time I reached the hospital, I was completely paralysed down one side, was suffering from speech loss and many other symptoms associated with strokes. Luckily, I had been in good health up until then and was treated very quickly by fantastic doctors and nurses. I was able to eventually return home on Christmas eve, just in time for a very different Christmas. Despite this, there is still a long journey to conquer to be fully rehabilitated.
“I began my rehabilitation journey by improving my speech, singing, walking, motor control and general physical strength. However, my rehabilitation has not been easy due to extreme fatigue which has made improving on my walking incredibly hard. I started walking laps around my garden to help improve movement when I realised that, while I was helping myself, I could help others too.
“I am supporting the Southwell Minster Choir Association I have a particular fondness for the music at the Minster and I know that the musical life there has been seriously affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.
If you want to help Frances reach her target click here.
Frances’ achievements lapping her garden coincided with the return of the Choir of Southwell Minster for its first service on Sunday 13 September.
The lay clerks are currently providing the choral music for Eucharist and Evensong but the boy and girl choristers are now back in rehearsal and the Minster is looking forward to a full Cathedral Choir after the half term break.
The challenges in returning to sung worship have been many – from issues surrounding health concerns to financial viability as Paul Provost, Rector Chori, explained:
“It has been a very tough time for our musicians and their families. To have daily activities completely curtailed is hard enough, but for musicians and especially singers it is a particularly harsh blow.
“We have all been waiting for the time when we could come back, and now that it has arrived it has not disappointed!
“One of the best parts of my job is working with the choristers, and I have loved welcoming those smiling faces back to rehearsals – especially all of our newcomers. My adult colleagues are likewise relieved to be back, and I am indebted to them for their support and good will.”
In a further boost to the musical life at Southwell, the Minster is awaiting news of funding through the Co-op Local Community Fund to establish a new ‘Junior Choir’ for children in Years 1 and 2.
Every Church of England Cathedral which is able to re-open to the public has achieved the Visit Britain’s industry standard and consumer charter mark We’re Good to Go which means visitors can be confident that cathedrals are taking all the necessary steps to help ensure people’s safety in line with latest Government and Public Health guidance.
Please check ahead as opening times and service times may have changed, you may have to book a ticketed slot at some cathedrals, and please be advised face-coverings are now mandatory in places of worship unless you are exempt and you will be asked to comply with the Government’s Track and Trace system.
For full details of services at Southwell Minster please view their Services Calendar.
More news on the return of choral music to English Cathedrals on the links below.