Singing at Methodist Church for 55 years

Olive Sutton, aged 86, who has been awrded the BEM for her services to music.
Olive Sutton, aged 86, who has been awrded the BEM for her services to music.
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Olive Sutton has been involved in singing at Victoria Hall Methodist Church in Norfolk Street for 55 years.

It’s the place where the choir she formed, The Sheaf Singers, continue to hold their rehearsals.

And last Sunday her praises were being sung at the church in the light of her being awarded, at the age of 86, the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to music and charitable fundraising.

“It’s now in my head what has happened,” she said. “I am beginning to feel quite excited about it. People have been so kind. I have had a lot of phone calls and cards and I was presented with a lovely bouquet at church, which was a surprise. I feel quite humbled by it.”

Olive, who lives in Richmond Road, has devoted her life to the promotion of opera and singing, particularly for the benefit of the less privileged. From 1945 to 1970 she sang as solo soprano with numerous operatic societies, performing in hundreds of productions.

In 1969 she founded The New Opera Group in Sheffield, designed to give people the opportunity to take part in opera. Between 1969 and 1984 she was music director and solo soprano for more than 50 productions.

She remained as music director until 1985 when she formed The Sheaf Singers, becoming producer, director, musical arranger and conductor.

Over the years, concerts have raised substantial amounts of money for charities such as St Luke’s Hospice, Lupus UK, Help the Heroes and and Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind.

Up to the present day, Olive, whose husband Arthur died 25 years ago, has given one-to-one singing lessons with no personal gain. She receives the BEM still energetically and enthusiastically involved with The Sheaf Singers.

“I just like getting things out of people,” she said. “It’s satisfying to have a rehearsal with a choir and they get to the stage where I want them. It’s rewarding when you have a concert and people appreciate what you do, and the charities appreciate it.”

Although Olive stopped singing at 75 to focus on teaching, she has no plans to retire.

“I can’t see me doing that. I’d be bored to death sitting at home. I have always joked that when my time comes, I want to be sitting at the piano stool at the Victoria Hall.”