The Isle of Wight County Press's first ever community champion is teacher and choir leader, Hannah Brear, director of (among others) the Medina Community Choir. 

“Singing together really fosters a sense of belonging and unity," Hannah told us.

“It’s a really powerful form of emotional expression."

Hannah is proud of the “beautiful, life-affirming” choir communities she has created, which include Medina Community Choir, Gurnard Community Choir and The NHS Nightingales.

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Isle of Wight County Press: Hannah Brear with her group.Hannah Brear with her group. (Image: Contributed.)

“I'm definitely not a one-woman band. It's very much a team effort to keep the show on the road,” she said.

Her projects have raised tens of thousands of pounds for Island charities, most recently £4,000 for the Community CAMHS Eating-Disorders Fund and Wight Brainy Bunch, through summer show Behind the Curtain.

Performances with Lesley Garrett, Fatboy Slim, Melanie Safka, Blake, Tenors Unlimited and Russell Watson are on her highlights list, along with performances at festivals and cathedrals.

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“Being selected as the only community choir in Europe to perform Rutter's Magnificat with a full orchestra at The Carnegie Hall in New York five years ago was unforgettable,” said Hannah.

“Being nominated to run with the Olympic Torch for services to Music in the Community in the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay was a real honour.

“Winning the BBC Glee Competition with my youth vocal ensemble Resonate was another awesome experience."

Isle of Wight County Press:


Isle of Wight County Press:

When Covid-19 lockdown meant in-person rehearsals had to stop, the 45-year-old organised sessions over Zoom.

These developed into quiz nights and fancy-dress evenings.

“When it was safe and legal to do so, but before indoor rehearsals could resume, we would use fields and open-sided barns: Anywhere we could sing together,” said Hannah.

“I think people see how passionate I am about making music and bringing people together to make music and want to be part of it.

“There's a real buzz at each rehearsal and lots of laughter."

By day, Hannah, from Carisbrooke, is a teacher, who loves "watching people grow and learn.

"It's not just about singing. It's reminding people they can be more than their job title; that they can play more than just one role in life.”

Projects on the horizon include an Abba and Beatles tribute concert at St Mary’s Church in Cowes on June 15, with all profits going to the IW Wave Project.

“At our Christmas concert, one of the young ladies who signed some songs using British Sign Language was in desperate need of funding for a cochlear implant, which was unavailable on the NHS,” said Hannah.

“An anonymous donor sitting in the audience heard her story and donated thousands of pounds to make it happen.

“It's incredible moments like these which remind us of what a special place our Island is.”

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Her choirs started with just six members and Hannah says it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

“They both took years and years to build up.

“Losing my sight for four years after complications in pregnancy was a bit daunting, but it was in those times that I realised what I had discovered, in others and in myself.

“I was carried by the communities I helped create, and encouraged to keep doing what I loved and what they needed, despite the challenges I faced, and so many of them were facing every day."

“Singing is a great leveller," said Hannah.

"It doesn't matter where people come from. They're there to create something beautiful together and have fun while they do it."