A group of Hartford vocalists who have previously been told that they cannot sing will perform at a concert alongside renowned musicians at The Free Church, St Ives on October 20.

Tutored by veteran singer and vocal teacher Michael Dale, the group of nine beginners will sing a selection of songs from classical to traditional folk and gospel music as part of the Your Voice, Your Birthright course.

Designed for people whose vocal talents have been considered less than perfect by friends and relatives, the workshops encourage every singer to find their own voice and develop their skills.

For some of the singers, this will be their first public performance.

Two of the members, Stanley and Rosemary Whiffen, 80 and 77, of Desborough Road, Hartford have been working with Mr Dale for around two years and are now feeling “quietly confident” about gracing the stage alongside experienced performers.

While Mr Whiffen, a former minister, used to sing flat while performing hymns to the congregation, Mrs Whiffen comes from a musical background but never believed that she had a voice.

Mr Whiffen said: “It has been known for people to turn the microphone off when I was singing in church.”

Mr Dale started the group around 2 and half years ago, although he has many years of experience as both a teacher and a singer, particularly in Australia where he lived for 23 years after emigrating from the UK.

His illustrious career has included working as the Acting Director of Vocal Pedagogy for the National Voice Centre of Australia and working as a voice lecturer at the University of Sydney – alongside his own performances.

Mr Dale was inspired to teach those who believe that they cannot sing after the traumatic experience of losing his voice in a freak accident after he swallowed something that scratched his vocal chord.

After this he could not speak for around a year and couldn't sing to his full potential for 12 years.

When he recovered his voice, he then set about helping others to sing, even appearing on popular daytime Australian daytime show Midday to prove that anyone can learn to sing with the right guidance.

He said: “When I lost my voice I was devastated and thought that there has to be a way to help people.”

However, Mr Dale has since suffered two heart attacks which again affected his voice.

Despite this, since his last heart operation two and a half years ago, he feels that his voice has now recovered to resemble the voice he had as a young man.

On the afternoon, he will be giving a baritone performance alongside John Grundy, Tyrone Landau, Damien Jones and Philippa Duggins.

INFORMATION: The concert will take place at 3.30pm, with doors open at 2.45pm. Tickets cost £8 with £5 concessions and are available at Just Sharing in the Free Church and on the door. For more information, contact Michael Dale on 07549 609393.