A Doncaster woman with music flowing through her veins has been recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s list for her strong leadership work within two South Yorkshire choirs.
Rachel Copley, aged 74, of Tickhill, has been awarded the British Empire Medal in recognition for her services to music charities and the community within South Yorkshire.
Coming from a family of talented musicians Rachel followed her creative passion to the Northern School of Music where she gained a graduate diploma, the Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music and the Singing Prize.
Later she joined the BBC Northern Singers, taking part in solo work and choral work throughout the country and overseas and trained as a conductor.
In 2000 she was approached to look after the Rotherham Choral Society for a few months whilst the musical director went to explore other ventures.
Since then she has held the title and the choir has continued to thrive under her leadership.
Eight years later, she led the choir and conducted ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ to more than 6,000 people prior to Cancer Research’s Race for Life, a particularly poignant event for Rachel who herself battled breast cancer in 2002.
She later went on to achieve the president of Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus, an honorary position awarded for life in recognition of the musical contribution she brings to the community.
Here she leads, supports and motivates nearly 200 people – the largest choir in Sheffield – and it is a position she enjoys very much.
Throughout her work with both the Rotherham Choral Society and the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus, she encourages professionals, amateur musicians and orchestras to accompany them in concerts.
As a former singing teacher who would visit various different schools across the region and host lessons at her home she feels it is important to encourage young musicians and school children to take part in concerts to build their confidence.
Over the years, Rachel has also volunteered for a large number of charities, helping raise funds and awareness, mainly leading choirs at funerals, weddings and charity events.
And, she led the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus in song at the Olympic Torch Relay, to support the then chairman of the group who was a torch bearer.
Rachel said she received a letter in November, telling her she had been awarded the BEM, but had to keep the news a secret from her family.
She said: “It was a huge shock. I enjoy what I do very much. I like conducting music, I like singing music, I like listening to music and I like playing music.
“I feel very proud of what I’ve considered to be my life. Music is my life, as are my family and my friends.”