Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Derry primary school wins BBC Choir of the Year

Pupils from St Patrick's Primary School, Pennyburn in Derry who are celebrating with their teacher Ursula Cullen after the won the BBC  Junior School Choir of the Year 2013. Picture Martin McKeown
Pupils from St Patrick's Primary School, Pennyburn in Derry who are celebrating with their teacher Ursula Cullen after the won the BBC Junior School Choir of the Year 2013. Picture Martin McKeown

After a month of staying tight-lipped, young singers from St Patrick's Primary School — bursting with pride at having won the UK’s biggest choir competition — have been able to celebrate their incredible triumph.

The Songs of Praise Choir of the Year finals took place in Liverpool last month, but the students — aged from nine to 11 — were sworn to secrecy until the show was broadcast.

Under the direction of music teacher Ursula Cullen, St Patrick’s 40 strong choir sang On Eagle's Wings and Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho to beat hundreds of other primary schools to be named the UK’s best.

A delighted school principal, Eamon Devlin said keeping the wonderful news quiet had been extremely difficult.

“I would say it was Derry's worst kept secret amongst the 800 strong pupils at the school but we weren't allowed to talk about it until now. It's been a long few weeks and a relief that we can tell everyone about it now,” he revealed.

“It was an amazing achievement for the school and particularly good that we won the competition when we are the City of Culture.”

Ms Cullen said she was “amazingly proud” at the achievement in the BT Convention Centre in Liverpool.

“We were all nervous but excited but we had no idea how well the other two finalists had done so I was amazingly proud when they announced that we had won,” she said.

“The buzz in the hall was incredible there were about 70 parents that had travelled along with us and they were shouting and jumping and waving banners which was fantastic.”

Choir member Nina Margey (9) said: “It was very scary being on the stage because it was the first time I have ever sung on a stage but it was exciting when we were the winners.”

Eimear Wilson (9) added: “It was amazing, my heart was beating very fast but Aled Jones was really nice and he told us we were great.”

One of the few boys in the choir is modest Conor Gallagher (9) who, even though he was just as delighted as everyone else, didn’t let fame go to his head.

He said: “It was exciting but I don't want to be a pop star and I am not going to go to X Factor — everybody in our house can sing.”

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