1977 – First concerts at St Mary’s Church, Banbury, called “Children Singing for Children” in aid of Save the Children Fund. Started at Christmas, then moved to the summer. The key team of Val Scarff, Tony Keen and Jeremy Rowe work together for the first time.

1980 – Start of Oxfordshire“Festival of Voices” at Nicholas Tingewick Hall, John Radcliffe Hospital. Soon became five days long with about 60 schools taking part. (About 1500 children each year)

1983 – John Coe and Jeremy Rowe sit in an Oxford pub and hatch the idea of a National Festival of Voices (A quick and easy decision!)

1984 – National Festival of Voices is launched in the Royal Albert hall with 1700 children from all over the UK, with Princess Michael of Kent in the audience. (She refuses to join Edelweiss, but sings lustily with everything else!) We have a rock band and a steel band as guests on stage. Giant picnic in Kensington Gardens between rehearsal and performance. Children change into stage clothes in Imperial College. Standing ovation – one of many!

1985 – National Festival moves to Wembley. Concert is featured live on ITV in 1990. Two or three performances each year, each with 1200 children. Up to 4000 children in any one year.

1985 onward – Festivals everywhere and for lots of reasons including:

  • The royal inauguration of the Channel Tunnel, singing for the Queen, Prince Philip, M and MmeMitterand, and lots of European prime ministers, accompanied by Band of Grenadier Guards, followed by big festival in a tent, in Folkestone, some of it live on Radio 3. Heatwave and violent rain! Special song “When flags fly together”written for the event by Mike Batt.
  • The 50th anniversary of Peace in Europe, at Dusseldorf’s Tonhalle, with children from twelve different nations in co-operation with the British Army
  • Hackney schools, various venues in East London
  • Colwyn Bay, in a huge gymnasium
  • Blackpool, celebrating the 100th birthday of the Blackpool Tower with a song by Jeremy Rowe, in the Tower Ballroom, and later at the Pleasurebeach.
  • Harlow, in the main shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon with all the shoppers
  • Londonderry at the height of the troubles in a concert promoted the Scouts
  • The Oxfordshire Festival of Voices has continued each year since 1980 and has raised (we estimate) nearly £54,500 for Save the Children.

2012 – The National Festival Of Voices returns to London at Blackheath Halls and continues to this day