Military WAGs march to own tune with garrison choir

THINK of the term “WAGS” and it throws up visions of footballers, shopping trips, bling and spray tans, but now one group of wives and girlfriends are looking to sing from a different hymn sheet.

Edinburgh Garrison ladies, based at Redford Barracks, are following in the footsteps of the renowned military wives of Catterick by setting up a choir.

Several of the Catterick WAGS shot to chart stardom after recording the official single for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, written by Gary Barlow, right, and last week travelled to Edinburgh to swap notes with their Capital counterparts and take part in a special performance.

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Shoppers crowded the John Lewis department store on Friday as members of the choir gave a performance.

Now the Edinburgh WAGs hope their choir will act as a support network for partners of serving soldiers.

Dozens of wives and girlfriends have already expressed an interest in joining up.

Helen Marie Tuiwaiwai, 37, whose husband, Jone, serves with the 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, said: “A number of us had noticed the success of the Catterick group and thought we’d do something similar.

“Whenever one of the regiments is away on deployment there can be a bit of a black cloud around the base so any distraction is welcomed and people always feel better when singing. I’ve been amazed by the response, over 50 folk have said that they’ll join up. There are nationalities from all over the Commonwealth on the base so there’ll be quite a mix of voices.

“We’re a pretty tight-knit community but this should help bring us even closer together.”

As a well as some members topping the charts as part of the ensemble that recorded jubilee track Sing, the Catterick Garrison wives inspired television series The Choir, which saw celebrity choirmaster Gareth Malone develop a group in Plymouth and Chivenor.

Since then more than 40 similar choirs have been established in bases and garrisons across the UK and Germany.

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Sarah Gillespie of the Catterick Garrison WAGS said: “We never expected to be successful at all, originally we were set up just to support our troops and raise spirits around the base.

“All our members have spoken of the strength of support they receive from each other as well as the wonderful effects of singing.

“We’re delighted to come to Edinburgh and help the ladies get their choir off the ground.”