Author Archives: Martinpen

‘Singing for our lives’ now has a publisher

We now have a publisher – HammerOn Press – for our book: ‘Singing for our lives: Stories from the street choirs’. As you know, it’s about street choirs in the UK as a social movement and is based on around 40 oral history interviews with street choir members from the far north to ‘the beautiful south’, and east to west right across the country, and a cluster in the north of England, also the Midlands.

When it’s published, in the next year we hope, we’ll be looking for a serious ‘popular audience’ that might include academics, activists, choristers, musicians… There’s a marked connection between many of the street choirs and British socialism through the Clarion Movement, Workers Education Association, Big Flame and street bands, if that’s any indicator. Watch this space!

For a reminder of the project see and…/

Progress on action points from our Leicester meeting, hooray!


Alan McDonald has volunteered to run our website and Frank has finally been able to hand over the responsibility. Massive thanks to Frank for starting it up and running (and funding) it for the past 3 years! And to Alan for taking it over!

Changes are happening and before too long we’ll be set up with song categories, links and more thanks to Penny Stone.


We agreed to have a bank account to cover expenses such as banners, printing, website etc. and all choirs should be asked to contribute towards setting up starter funds. £20 suggested donation per choir (smaller or greater amounts according to choir size and financial situation plus individual donations welcome).

Bolton Clarion have agreed to act as Treasurer and hold the account for Campaign Choirs. Now open for donations, so roll them in, folks! ?

Big thanks to Moira and Bolton Clarion!

Cheques to be made out to Bolton Clarion Choir and addressed to:

Bolton Clarion Choir

c/o Moira Hill

126 Victoria Road



[blog by Lotte]

People’s March for Climate, Justice and Jobs, London 29 Nov 2015

Paris Summit 2015

The People's March for Climate, Justice and Jobs London 29 Nov 2016

The People’s March
for Climate, Justice and Jobs
London 29 Nov 2016

The most crucial UN international summit of the decade (COP21 / CPM11 / Paris 2015) takes place in Paris from 30 November to 11 December.

Demonstrations around the world

On the eve, people in cities around the world will take to the streets to march for ambitious action on the climate crisis. From London to São Paulo, and Johannesburg to Paris, we will rise together to meet this moment with a single deafening message that can’t be ignored.

28 November

In UK there will be demonstrations in many cities on 28 November, followed by a major national demonstration in London on 29 November.

London Demonstration and Rally, 29 November

Climate Change: It’s Time To Act – the People’s March for Climate, Justice and Jobs:



Raised Voices have prepared a songsheet and other singing resources – some familiar, some new.

And Sámi singer Sara Marielle Gaup Beaska has put a call out for people around the world to sing her Yoik in solidarity with indigenous people the world over to acknowledge the disproportionate impact climate change is having, and will have on their lives if we do not act now to reduce our impact on this earth we live on. Video with her story and song here.

Getting there:

Climate march coaches: (includes info for Paris 12 December).  If you know of others, let them know!

Campaign Choirs Network Meeting, Whitby 12 July

For choir members and representatives attending the Street Choirs Festival in Whitby.

We’ll be holding a meeting in the the café in the Pavilion complex on Sunday Morning at 11 am (coinciding with the second set of workshops).

If at all possible, it would be great to have at least one person from each choir. And of course volunteers are always welcome, but don’t be put off coming if you’re already fully committed to other things – your ideas and input will be welcome.


Hero’s send-off for Ray Davies

Posted on behalf of Kelvin Mason

Ray Davies, the indefatigable peace activist, socialist, community campaigner, loving husband and father died aged 85 on May 7th, Election Day.
Ray DaviesRay was an active member of the Labour Party for over 60 years and a councillor for more than 50. He would have lamented the election of a Tory government determined on austerity politics and Trident replacement. And then he would have resisted such policies with all his considerable conviction, commitment and charm.

Everyone who met him, took action with him, or sang with him has their stories of Ray. I often tease that I never saw Ray Davies at Aldermaston or Faslane… Because he had locked-on, been arrested, talked peace compellingly to his arresting officer, and was singing in his cell before I even got up! His daughter Rachael’s favourite picture of Ray is him goray over fenceing over the barbed-wire fence at Hinkley aged 84. As happy taking direct action as being a great dad, in the picture Ray looks positively gleeful.

Ray fought hard on numerous fronts and, although he lived just four miles from his birthplace in Llanbradach, he was known across the world, as messages of condolence from as far afield as Gaza and the US made plain. On one visit to Gaza, a bullet grazed Ray’s head as he was escorting ambulances carrying wounded Palestinians to hospital. Betty Hunter was amongst the representatives of Palestine Solidarity Campaign who attended Ray’s memorial on 15th May.

Hanif Bhamjee represented Wales Anti Apartheid. With Côr CochionCorCochionBanner100, the activist choir which he helped form, Ray was once arrested in Merthyr Tydfil for singing in support of the South African boycott. On another occasion, also in Merthyr, Côr Cochion were told they could not stand and sing against open-cast coalmining in a private shopping mall. So, they simply walked around the mall singing their hearts out, trailed by two hangdog security guards. Ray Davies believed in the power of music to communicate and change lives. Côr Cochion, Caerphilly Male Voice Choir and Cardiff Arms Park Choir all sang movingly at his memorial.

Ray was Vice Chair of CND Cymru and Jill Gough paid this tribute: ‘The world has lost a truly international activist; Wales has lost a flaming beacon of peace and socialism; I have lost a very dear friend and comrade.’

Ray believed in a strong political voice for Wales too. He recently spoke on the steps of the Welsh Assembly, calling for greater powers to be devolved from Westminster. Members of the Yes for Wales campaign were at the memorial to show their appreciation. Old comrades from the Anti Poll Tax campaign also came from London to join the commemoration.

Others present included, the Lord Mayor, Ray’s fellow town and county councillors, MEP Jeff Cuthbert, MP Wayne David and leader of the Green Party in Wales, Pippa Bartolotti. The local community attended in great number too: local environmentalists campaigning to preserve the beauty of the woodlands in Graig y Rhacca; residents opposing the development of Ray’s beloved Cwm (valley); local historians; and the many people who had come to Ray for advice and help.

Ray bore his pancreatic cancer with the same courage with which he faced the dangers underground as a boy miner, the police on picket lines during the Miners’ Strike, teargas and tanks in Ireland, and bullets in war-torn Gaza. His memorial in Bedwas Workmen’s Hall was packed to capacity with more than five-hundred people drawn from every aspect of his remarkable life.

On the lectern was Ray’s trademark red scarf and ‘heddwch’ (peace) beret. Those present heard that Ray was first and foremost a human being – not a saint or a leader. He acted on what he knew was right – and was a man not afraid to admit it if he sometimes got things wrong. The memorial concluded with a rousing rendition of ‘Hey Jude’ sung by everyone present.

Ray Davies truly believed he could change the world, and he made us believe we could too. So, now it is our turn to preserve the things we love that he fought so hard for. Ray left a big hole in our lives, but we must all do the best we can to carry on his spirit. We too must be indefatigable.

A celebration of Ray’s public life – which will focus on his contribution to local, national and international politics – will be held on the 4th of July at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff.


With thanks to Jill Gough, Wendy Lewis and Rachael Christophides.

See also:


Time to Act! on Climate Change

Following on from the tremendous success of the People’s Climate March in September, on March 7th 2015, the Time to Act on Climate Change march will bring people together again on the streets of London to demand real change and tell politicians seeking election that there is no mandate for climate-wrecking business as usual.

2015 is a crucial year for the climate. In December, governments will come together in Paris to strike a new deal for the climate – we must make our voices heard.

See details of the march and transport from many areas on the Campaign against Climate Change website

Choirs and singers are invited to join in singing songs to share our concerns and hopes for the climate – details will be confirmed soon but will include the song ‘Do It Now!’ (to the tune of Bella Ciao) – words are available from Sheffield Climate Alliance here

Wrap Up Trident event on Sat 24th Jan

You may remember the 9 mile long, pink scarf which was stretched from Aldermaston to Burghfield last August to say No to Trident?

There is an event in London on Jan 24th starting at 1pm using part of  the same peace scarf to encircle Parliament and the MOD.

The Sing Out Trident choir plan to sing at it, songs that are easy to pick up, relevant to the No Trident Replacement cause. This is an important event leading up to the election this year, where we want the Trident issue to be on the agenda. We would very much welcome more singers to join us. PLEASE COME ALONG!

We will meet up by the Churchill statue at the corner of Parliament Square closest to Westminster tube station. If people want to have a chance to practise the songs we could arrange to meet before the event starts, say at 12.30 to give time for this.

Please let Morag know if you are able to come, via

People’s Climate March, London, 21 September

Campaigning Choirs planning information

The Campaign against Climate Change is helping to organise the People’s Climate March in London along with many other organisations including Avaaz,, UKYCC, People & Planet, Operation Noah, Wake Up London, Oxfam, Art Not Oil, BP or not BP, CAFOD, UCL Students’ Union, Greenpeace UK, Rising Tide, …

For information about the event itself, visit

Raised Voices will be singing on the Climate demo, and are meeting at the corner of Surrey Street and Temple Place, at 12.00 and others would love you to join them. Although some songs are unique to them, you’re welcome to download their songsheet (pdf).

Please Leave a Reply to use comments on this post for Campaigning Choirs updates and planning.

Britain Needs a Pay Rise – March and Rally, London, 18 October

Campaigning Choirs planning information

This autumn the TUC is organising a mass demonstration in London, making the case that Britain Needs a Pay Rise.
It will take place on Saturday 18 October 2014, and will begin with a march through central London, culminating in a rally in Hyde Park.

For information about the event itself (including transport), visit

Please use comments on this post for Campaigning Choirs information and planning.