It was in the late 1980,s that the problem with uniform for the choir was solved, thanks to the determination and kindness of Mrs Alma Clark,(pictured)(3) the widow of a former police sergeant.
Approval was granted by the then chief constable for cast uniform, which would normally be discarded, to be purchased by the choir for a nominal sum. Alma , a seamstress employed at police headquarters volunteered to become tailoress to the choir, working from home.
This was a huge undertaking. Armed with the ‘vital statistics’ of some 25 choir members , Alma took on the job of trawling through racks of cast uniforms in police stores to obtain a stock of suitable sizes, to then carry out the necessary tailoring and also adding the various decorative items. Turning up at rehearsal brandishing her tape measure and sewing equipment was a regular occurrence for Alma until at last the task was completed. The choir now had a standard uniform for all members whether they were a serving officer or more commonly by that time a ‘non police officer’
On moving to Oakwood in 1990, Alma utilised the spare bedroom at her bungalow as a sewing room and so uniform fitting or alteration became known as ‘a visit to Alma’s bedroom.’This naturally resulted in much ‘leg pulling ’, particularly for new members.
Alma continued as tailoress to the choir for more than 30 years, during which time she became a much loved member of the choir family, providing unstinting support and dedication. Until failing health prevented it she would attend almost every concert locally and around the country, including a trip to Osnabruck, Germany, the Royal Albert Hall, and also took part in many social occasions and annual dinners. Sitting in the audience at a concert she would be keeping a watchful eye on choir members appearance and would readily advise them when it was time to pay her a visit to have a ‘nip and tuck’ to smarten up their uniform.
There was even a time when Alma would take an active part in concerts, dressed as ‘Norah Batty’ chasing ‘Compo’ with a yard brush, during the choir’s rendition of the ever popular number ‘Last of the Summer Wine’
Over the years , in addition to the many accolades from the choir, Alma’s support and dedication has been recognised and rewarded at the highest level of the Police Force, in that she has been presented with two Chief Constable’s commendations, a similar award from the Police and Crime commissioner, and was recently made an honorary Life Member of the choir.
Such is Alma’s pride in her connections with choir , that the walls of her home are heavily adorned with choir photographs and memorabilia of the various presentations, sitting alongside the many paintings symbolising another of her talents as an artist of some repute.
On reaching her 97th birthday in July, 2016 Alma at last decided to hang up her needle and thread and the bedroom door has finally closed.