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Can humble wives of heroes in the Armed Forces beat global superstar Springsteen in charts? SUCCESS INSPIRES NEW CHOIRS ACROSS COUNTRY.

Byline: DARREN DEVINE

THEIR debut single penned by a Welsh composer became the fastest seller for six years and stormed to the Christmas number one spot.

And now the Military Wives choir hope to repeat the success of their single Wherever You Are when debut album In My Dreams is released today.

The album was last night positioned at number one on the Amazon pre-order chart ahead of Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball.

Chorister Rebecca Williams, from Pontardawe, Swansea, whose husband Rhys serves as a doctor to 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, described their time in the spotlight as a "whirlwind".

Rebecca said the choir thought their time together would end after a performance at the Royal Albert Hall last year, before first the single and now the album kept the bandwagon rolling.

The 38-year-old primary school teacher said: "We were certainly keen to carry on and do something else (after the single) and just to have been part of what we felt was quite a unique experience."

Rebecca, who with Rhys, 37, has a one-year-old son, Fergus, added: "And now there are reportedly 25 military wives choirs and to think that started last year from us getting together is brilliant."

The choristers were brought together by Gareth Malone for BBC 2 programme The Choir: Military Wives. As well as being made up of women with husbands and partners serving in Afghanistan they also include sisters and mothers.

Composer Paul Mealor, from Pentraeth, Anglesey, wrote Wherever You Are and also penned the title track for the album recorded by Decca.

Mealor, 36, who composed Ubi Caritas et Amor for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's Royal Wedding last April, has said he has been overwhelmed by the reaction to the choir.

Not only have new choirs sprung up around the country, but the existing groups have expanded their ranks.

The Plymouth choir, one of four that sung on Wherever You Are with women from military bases in Chivenor, Catterick and Lympstone, has gone up from 50 to 80 members.

Nicky Scott, from Gwynedd, whose husband WO2 George, 44, serves with 24 Commando Engineer regiment, said the women still have to pinch themselves over the wave of support for their singing.

The 44-year-old, who has two daughters Georgina, 10, and Isla, eight, with her husband, added: "In the mornings we see the adverts for the album it makes you choke on your breakfast because you think, 'That's us'. "But we're really honoured to be a part of it. We're just overjoyed and when we listen to it we can't stop crying."

Besides Mealor's two original tracks - the Christmas number one is also on the album - the new release also features U2's With Or Without You, Adele's Make You Feel My Love and Coldplay's Fix You.

All the money raised will go towards a new foundation set up to help form choirs in military communities across the UK.

The choir will perform at a series of one-off events to help promote the new album.

They're appearing at Venue Cymru, in Llandudno, at the end of March.

And on Friday they'll appear at Sandown Park before the Grand Military Gold Cup as well as the Music of the Night festival in Plymouth in July.

Rebecca added: "It's been fantastic, but it will come to an end at some point.

"But if we can carry on and raise money on the back of the single and the album it will have been such as positive thing for us."

CAPTION(S):

* Choir master Gareth Malone conducts the Military Wives choir, whose debut album In My Dreams is released today
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 5, 2012
Words:603
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