Singing For Happiness

A band vocalist has set up a group that sings songs that bring them joy, laughter and friendship

Talented vocalist Amanda Wrigley, the singer with Ribble Valley-based band the Lost Goats Club, is renowned for her distinctive style and her on-stage presence and enthusiasm.

Wearing her signature top hat, her exuberant performances and interaction with her audience has made her a popular performer on the region’s music scene, having previously headlined at the Burnley Blues Festival.

Amanda who is a professional builder, is also a keen community fund-raiser and to support this, she has recently set up a singing group, the Big VS (Valley Singers): “I recently went to a birthday party in a country house and during the evening, they said, ‘Come on Mandy let’s have a singalong. So, I said I would teach them to sing. I have never had any formal training but I taught them how to sing together and enjoy it. They loved it – it was brilliant as they really bonded over singing so that got me thinking about setting up a singing group.”

Within a short space of time Amanda had posted her idea on Wilpshire and Langho Facebook: “I didn’t want it to be a choir and I didn’t want the group to appeal to ‘good’ singers – I just wanted people to get joy from singing and the response I got was amazing!”

Wilpshire Methodist Church on Ribchester Road offered Amanda a meeting space for the singers: “The people at the church were lovely. They offered lots of helpful advice and I really took everything on board.”

When the singers met for the first time, Amanda admits: “I didn’t really know what to do with them, I was just blagging it, but it turned out to be such good fun and that’s what matters. All I want is to bring like-minded people together to sing the songs they enjoy.

“This has been a learning curve for me too as I have researched and learnt how to teach singers. The most important thing when singing is learning how to breathe and to make them believe in themselves.

“Members of the group don’t have to be the best singers – the prerequisite for joining is the desire to have a good time and make friends,” adds Amanda, who gives the group homework in order improve their voice and gain confidence. “I tell them to go home practice, to put their phones on record and process it.”

To date the singers have sung in public a number of times raising money for the East Lancashire Hospice singing Christmas songs last year in local pubs and they are now learning popular songs from the stage and screen including favourites from Les Miserables and the Lion King: “As a group they are very grounded people and they are gaining confidence and becoming more theatrical all the time. This is all about communicating with people, having the right mindset and it’s changing people’s lives.”

Living in Langho, Amanda began her career as a holiday rep working across Europe and America.

A stage singer from her early 20s, Amanda has sung in various bands including Dorothy and the Tinmen and Dark horse and more recently has forged a reputation with the Lost Goats, which she co-founded with Tony Woods.

Her lively and loud performances have proved a hit with her audiences, as she explains: “While the band is small, I have a big personality and I’m a bit ‘gobby’! I dress up, I love to perform and I also like to interact with the audience. I have made a lot of very good friends through singing.

“We play any style of music – from Janice Joplin to Ed Sheeran. The audience loves it as it’s so much fun,” enthuses Amanda, who changed careers 25 years ago initially training to become a plasterer and moving on to become a builder: “People are still surprised by the idea of a female builder, which is unbelievable in this day and age.

“For every five job applications I receive, they are nearly all from boys. Someone has to inspire young girls and engage with them to convince them they have the capacity to do it. Society doesn’t give girls enough support to get involved in the construction trade. The people involved say they are taking steps to do this but in my opinion it’s all talk and no action.”

Recently having one of her apprentices win Plasterer of the Year Award, Amanda adds: “The awards ceremony audience was predominantly men and while it was fantastic for him to win, it was even better that his boss was a woman!”

If you are interested in joining the Big VS, which meets on Monday evenings at 7.30pm, contact Amanda on 07854 538141.



Tedd Walmsley

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