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Military wives

182. Emma Hanlon-Penny

A military wife from Exeter was a founding member of the choir that shot to fame in 2011 as part of the BBC Choir series and has gone on to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity as well as providing support to a network of 75 Military Wives Choirs.

34 year old Emma Hanlon-Penny was one of the founding members of the Chivenor Military Wives Choir, one of the original choirs in a network that today incorporates 75 choirs. Since the Chivenor Military Wives Choir shot to fame on the BBC programme hosted by Gareth Malone they have performed many fundraising events and last year raised over £750,000 for charities including children’s hospices and several military charities.

Full time mum of three Emma, who’s husband has been in the Royal Marines since 1997 has played a key role in the choir’s fundraising efforts. In 2012 along with other military wives from the original choirs she played a part in creating the Military Wives Choirs Foundation, a registered charity which supports women in the military community through singing. (deleted sentence) Emma also supports choirs and interacts with supporters via the Military Wives Facebook Group. Emma uses her experiences to inspire, guide and support. There are now 75 choirs up and down the country and as far away as Cyprus, Germany, the Falkland Islands and the US. Emma continues to play a key role in the Chivenor Military Wives Choir Committee spearheading their on-going fundraising endeavours.

Earlier this year Emma volunteered her time to support the Prom Military Wives Choir where 100 women took centre stage at the Royal Albert Hall to mark the eve of the 100th Anniversary of the day Britain entered World War 1. Gareth Malone led the choir to perform classical pieces and a moving recital of Tennyson’s poem ‘Home They Brought Their Dead’. The Prom will be broadcast on 26 December at 17.30.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“As part of the Chivenor Military Wives Choir Emma captured the imagination of the country. Now by creating the Military Wives Choir Foundation she is fostering a thriving community of choirs across the country and in Cyprus, Germany, the Falkland Islands and America. Thanks to her tenacity and determination, the choirs have raised millions for charity. I am delighted to name Emma a UK Point of Light.”

Emma said:

‘I am thrilled to be receiving this award, which I gratefully accept on behalf of all the ladies who work incessantly hard as part of the Military Wives Choirs; I am especially proud to be one of the small group of women who created such an amazing foundation and legacy for females within the military community and will continue to do so with the warmth and devotion as I always have.’

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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