Directors take a 96-mile tandem challenge to help choirs sing

Two accomplished church musicians, leading figures at the Royal School of Church Music, will be setting off from Addington Palace next month on a sponsored tandem ride to raise funds for their organisation’s forthcoming centenary.

Ready to pedal: RSCM tandem riders Hugh Morris (left) and his colleague Paul Hedley

Addington Palace, another of the former homes of the Archbishops of Canterbury within Croydon, was for more than 40 years the home of the Royal School of Church Music.

The organisation was founded in 1927 by Sir Sydney Nicholson as the School of English Church Music. Today, the RSCM is the largest church music organisation in Britain.

It became the RSCM in 1945, when it moved to Canterbury Cathedral. It was in 1954 that the RSCM moved to Addington Palace, which would be its home until 1996. Since 2006, it has been based at Sarum College, close to Salisbury Cathedral.

And it is the 96 miles between Croydon and Salisbury that inspired the RSCM’s director Hugh Morris and assistant director Paul Hedley to take on the fund-raising bike ride in the School’s 96th year.

“The RSCM wanted to launch its centenary appeal in style, so when I realised that it was 96 miles from Addington Palace in Croydon where we were based for over 40 years to our current offices in Salisbury, I had an idea,” Morris said.

“Paul is a keen cyclist, so I suggested that we launch our centenary appeal in our 96th year with a 96-mile sponsored tandem ride.”

The duo aim to complete the ride in 48 hours over a weekend, starting on June 10.

During the ride, the pair will stop off at member churches to meet choir and congregation members and lead them in singing two anthems, a hymn and a psalm. June 11 is designated by RSCM as Music Sunday, celebrating the role of music and musicians in the life of churches.

Starting point: Addington Palace

Hedley said, “For generations the hymn ‘And can it be’ has been known by choristers as ‘The Cyclists Hymn’ because it includes the line ‘My chains fell off’.

“I hope we won’t have that problem, but I know Hugh and I will be encouraged to continue pedalling when we hear our supporters singing it.

“Other choirs may choose to sing Psalm 96. It begins, ‘Sing to the Lord a new song’ words that fit well with the aims of the Centenary Fund.

“Many children today never get the chance to sing in a choir. How will our churches sing a new song in the future if there are no young people singing?”

The RSCM charity has supported music in worship by encouraging and resourcing churches, musicians and church communities, with a network of thousands of affiliated churches, schools and other institutions, as well as individual members.

Morris and Hedley aim to raise £9,600 to kick-start the RSCM Centenary Fund. The money will pay for projects such as encouraging children and young people to join church choirs, to start new choirs or reinvigorate ones that lost members during covid.

“The RSCM has a vital role to play in encouraging and enabling music in churches,” said Morris.

“Many people may not think of this as important, but most would miss the lead of the choir and organ at a carol service, or the beauty of the singing at a wedding. These things will be lost if we don’t act.”

The tandem ride will take place from JUne 10 to 12. You can sponsor the ride through the RSCM website ( or by sending a cheque (clearly marked Director’s Challenge and payable to the RSCM) to the Development Team at RSCM, 19 The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EB.

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