...in fact we're lovely (if we do say so ourselves!) and when you become part of our choir family you'll meet lots of interesting, friendly, welcoming people. Sometimes though it's nice to put a face to a name, so here are a few you might like to know.
Pleased to meet you!
We’re a friendly bunch...
Jon Szunko - Musical Director
Jon started his journey with Northern Proud voices as an enthusiastic bass. A few years later and he is delighted to take on the role of musical director. He plays woodwind, dabbles on the piano, but his real passion lies in arranging, composing and, of course, directing. A keen traveller Jon has based his singing mantra on a trip to Fiji. After spending time living on a tiny island in the South Pacific he has seen how a few songs and a guitar can bring a community together. The locals there could not understand why the Brits would refuse to sing, if they would not refuse to speak. We all have voices and should have the courage to use them! Jon looks forward to the opportunity to help build upon the success of Northern Proud Voices and to do his bit, with the rest of the choir, to help bring the LGBTQI+ community together.
Andrew Richardson - Accompanist
Northern Proud Voices had their first rehearsal on Friday 25th March 2011 and Andrew Richardson played piano for us. He's been with us from the very beginning and we're happy to tell you that eight years later he's still supporting choir as a singing tutor and accompanist. Andrew said, "I have very much enjoyed accompanying Northern Proud Voices and watching them grow and evolve as a choir." He lives in South Shields and works as a peripatetic pianist for many Primary Schools in the South Tyneside area. He has written several musicals for children which have been performed all around the borough. Andrew is also the resident pianist for popular singing group 'Encore' who perform at the Customs House twice a year. He loves all styles of music but admittedly his favourite genre is musical theatre.
Our hard working committee are passionate about Northern Proud Voices and are dedicated to making sure we are a vibrant, sustainable community choir. The committee are very approachable and welcome anyone's input and suggestions from all.
Lynzee McShea - Chair
Born and bred in East Lancashire. She came to the North East to study at Durham University in 2002, and never left! She found NPV in 2016, after looking for a local LGBT group to join. She had never met such a welcoming group of people before and was
hooked after her first rehearsal. As well as being a proud soprano, she is NPVs chair.
Gavin Hennessey - Treasurer
Gavin is a qualified accountant having worked in private
practice as well as in industry for over 30 years! He joined NPV some 4 years ago and agreed to act as the choir's independent examiner (of its annual accounts) up until last year, when he was then appointed as Treasurer. Gavin's main job is as Head of Finance and Operations for a local property company. Before joining NPV, Gavin used to be a member of Whitley Bay Operatic Society and Tynemouth Amateur Operatic Society where he performed on stage in a number of musicals including Oliver, The Boyfriend, Fiddler on the Roof and Singing in the Rain. He was also in 42nd Street despite the fact he cannot dance!!
Scott Rowan - Secretary
In New Silksworth, I was born and raised
In Sunderland is where I spent most of my days
Chilling out, laughing, trying to act real cool
And playing loads of video games after school
When a couple of songs and a couple of films
Started making me realise I was a little queer
I went to one steps concert and realised there
That I was going be a burly and big beautiful bear
I started playing rugby and fuzzy face was born
My beard was getting bigger and my ACL torn
I worked hard on the committee and we won some big games
My rugby time was over and now was time for a change
I began working at the Freeman about 4 years ago
And I met my lovely besty and got princess ruby
We moved to chili road and made some big life choices
I started singing now committee of Northern Proud Voices
Andrea Routledge Colledge - general committee member
Andrea was pusuaded to come along to choir by a work colleague and was hooked straight away. This was 4 years ago and since then has made great friends and enjoys performing with them. The weekly practice provides a respite from the stress of 'real life' and is the highlight of the week.
Kathleen MacDonald - general committee member
Kath came along to one of the very first NPV rehearsal back in 2011. The choir has been an important part of her life ever since and she looks forward to rehearsals every week. The community and friendly spirit of the choir has seen her through some challenging times and gave her a reason to get back into the swing of things. During her 8 years with the choir she has been an ordinary committee member, secretary and chair. She has now returned to committee as an ordinary member and looks forward to a bright future with NPV reaching new heights.
Richard Hijlkema - general committee member
He joined the choir in December 2016. By accident really, because his friend and fellow choir member Jon told him to "go to this choir..." He thought he was gonna watch a choir perform but then realized he was part of the choir! He is a busy baker and chef and is always looking forward to Thursday evenings, so he can relax and sing his heart out! He likes to perform but equally likes the rehearsal evenings. In the committee he helps organizing performances and other events, is responsible for the up-keeping of this website, creates most of the advertising material and helps out on choir nights.
Hannah Staffurth - general committee member
Having joined the choir in November 2018, Hannah found the choir late one Thursday afternoon and knew immediately that they had to be part of it. Choir swiftly became an unmissable event and has been a wonderful support and escape through some difficult times. In their first year they have been lucky enough to represent the choir on BBC Radio Newcastle as well as at performances - and now on the committee!