Choir formed for The Heart of the Wood musical proud to join new celebration of Barnsley schools' talent

YOUNG singers whose school choir was formed specially for an innovative theatre show will continue their musical adventure by joining Barnsley's biggest schools concert.

The choir from Heather Garth Primary in Bolton upon Dearne will take part in the first ever Barnsley Sings! schools music festival at Barnsley Metrodome on Thursday, 11 July.

The choir was put together last autumn for The Heart of the Wood, a community-driven production showcasing Barnsley's mining heritage and musical talent.

The show ran at the Dearne Playhouse for three nights last December. It was supported by Barnsley Council and the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, and funded by the UK Government’s Towns Fund through the Goldthorpe Town Deal Board.

The Heart of the Wood was produced by The Big Reveal, who worked with the community for 18 months to create the show and a companion book.

Ahead of Barnsley Sings!, the 40-strong choir is rehearsing every Friday afternoon, growing in confidence and ability.

The Barnsley Sings! programme included the songs Hallelujah, A Million Dreams, You Gotta Be, and a Barnsley-inspired composition titled Big Brave Bill.

Heather Garth’s trip is made possible by funding from Barnsley's Cultural Development Fund programme, Storying Barnsley, which has covered the cost of coach travel, Barnsley Sings! T-shirts and snacks for the children.

Music teacher Sarah Burgess said: “We are so proud of our choir and how far they have come since we signed up for The Heart of the Wood.

“They have shown great enthusiasm and dedication and are very excited to perform at the Barnsley Sings! concert.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for them to showcase their skills and have fun with other young singers.

“The whole school was so proud of their performance in The Heart of The Wood. Seeing how much they gained from that experience made me want to see other children have that chance, too.

“Being in the choir is inspiring the children and giving them confidence.

“I’d like to think they will all continue singing and it's lovely to think they will look back when they are older and say it all started with this.”

Heather Garth head teacher Jayne Winnard said: “We could not have dreamed the choir would take off like it has.

“I want the school’s new-found dedication to music to continue, and give these experiences to as many of our children as possible.

“The buzz from The Heart of the Wood has spread throughout the school.

“We are grateful to Barnsley Council for helping us, through funding and support, to build on the legacy of such an amazing show.”

Councillor Robin Franklin, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture, said: “We are delighted to support Heather Garth Primary and their choir.

“They are a shining example of the talent and creativity we have in Barnsley.

“I am sure the choir will do their school and the community of Bolton upon Dearne proud.

“Their story is just one example of how Barnsley really is the place of possibilities, and we are proud to play our small part in helping them join in this incredible evening of entertainment.”

Barnsley Sings! is a new three-day schools music festival organised by Barnsley Youth Choir, which has won several international awards and has over 400 members. You can buy tickets here.

Watch a full-length documentary about The Heart of the Wood and videos of the Dearne Playhouse performances at

The Goldthorpe Town Deal Board is overseeing a wide-ranging package of investment using the £23.1 million granted to Goldthorpe from the UK Government’s Towns Fund.


Caption: The school choir with teacher Sarah Burgess.

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