A NEW musical director has been appointed following the unexpected resignation of a long-standing choir conductor.

In May, Keith Heywood bowed out from Radcliffe Male Voice Choir after 54 years' loyal service, due to a serious illness in his family.

Catherine Hilton has now taken over as the musical director of the choir, which is made up of more than 40 male singers.

"I am very much looking forward to working with the choir", she said. "They are a fabulous bunch of men and make a great sound. It will be a privilege to lead them."

Catherine was concert accompanist for the choir up until her recent appointment as musical director so is familiar with its members.

Meanwhile, Jackie Greenwood has stepped into Catherine's shoes as the new concert accompanist, a position she held in the 1990s.

Rehearsals for the choir's forthcoming concerts have already begun.

A member of the choir said: "We couldn’t have asked or wished for anyone better to succeed Keith; he was always going to be a hard act to follow but we know Catherine will be brilliant in the job.” This is not the first male voice choir that Catherine has conducted; she has overseen Greater Manchester Police Male Voice Choir rehearsals and conducted a few of their concerts in recent years. She is currently their accompanist.

Other existing roles include being rehearsal accompanist for Encore Youth Choir, as well as an Honorary Canon at Manchester Cathedral and international trustee of Manchester Mothers’ Union.

Another choir member said: "Catherine and the choir now look to its centenary in 2021 and beyond with a new confidence."