OBE is high note of year, says The Choir star Gareth Malone
Dorset-born music maestro Gareth Malone has described his joy at being awarded an OBE after an eventful 2012 he dubbed his “annus mirabilis”.
The choirmaster’s infectious enthusiasm and love of music seen on his popular BBC show The Choir has inspired singers across the country.
Malone led his most famous students, the Military Wives choir, on two chart-topping singles last year and had the honour of conducting them on the Queen’s Christmas Day broadcast. He received his award from the Princess Royal yesterday in an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace and said after the ceremony: “She was asking me very sweetly had life calmed down after the furore of last year and I was telling her, no, it hadn’t really. 2012 was, to adapt the Queen’s phrase, an annus mirabilis. It was just unbelievable, everything happened to me and to get the OBE was a wonderful moment in that year.”
Malone said he owed his love of music to his parents, who sang in a local choir, and he went on to sing in an ensemble at his grammar school in Bournemouth. He later studied drama at the University of East Anglia – composing, singing and directing for a student drama group.
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He developed his choral work further with a post-graduate degree in singing at the Royal Academy of Music and it was while working with choirs as an animateur at the London Symphony Orchestra that he was approached by TV producers about working on their new project. The resulting series, The Choir, was seen by more than three million viewers and Mr Malone has gone on to work on more choir TV projects, as well as children’s programmes. He famously took his Military Wives choir – assembled for a BBC2 show – to number one over the festive season in 2011.
He guided the women again when they featured on Gary Barlow’s Diamond Jubilee anthem Sing – another chart-topper – conducting them when they performed at the Jubilee concert last summer.
Devon horsewoman Mary King, who won a silver medal as part of the nation’s equestrian eventing team, was awarded an MBE.
Paralympic riders Deborah Criddle and Sophie Wells, whose efforts helped Britain win equestrian gold in the mixed dressage team open event, were awarded MBEs for services to their sport.
Criddle, 46, from Taunton in Somerset, also won silver medals in the grade III freestyle and individual events to add to her gold, a performance that followed her impressive display at Athens 2004 – where she won three gold medals.
She said: “There was a lot of talk about Greenwich not being the right venue but in the end it could not have been better, we were at the heart of the Games and the atmosphere was incredible.”
Meanwhile, Transport for London commissioner Sir Peter Hendy, who played a key role in preparing London’s transport for the summer of sport, was knighted.
And Caryn Franklin, former BBC Clothes Show presenter and co-founder of the group All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, aimed at widening the range of ‘‘acceptable‘’ body shapes and sizes in the fashion industry, received an MBE.
“It (the MBE) is for services to diversity in fashion which is about promoting a broader range of body and beauty ideals,” she said.