Singing in the church choir makes José Peate happy – and that is why she is still going in her 90th year.
José is celebrating her 50 years in the choir at St Andrew and St Cuthman in Steyning and to mark the occasion, she has been presented with the Royal School of Church Music medallion for long service.
She said: “I love singing and will only give up when I become a liability, as I like to be extremely independent. I hope to be able sing in Choral Evensongs.
“As I have got older, I find I don’t want to learn too many new things and I am very familiar with most of the repertoire we sing and, at my age, I feel life has to be enjoyable.
“I am very, very proud to receive such a lovely medal. I tried to bring my children up to be regular and committed to things, I think that is so important these days.”
José enjoyed singing at school but then dancing took over her life and she trod the boards professionally for ten years, including time in Denmark and Italy. She took part in her last pantomime just after the birth of her first child, Nick.
José had five more children, Zoë, Kate, Mike, Matt and Becky, and as one by one they started to sing in the church choir, she too was encouraged to join.
Zoë was the first to join in 1968, then Kate, and Jose joined soon after. She said Bob Bettany, who ran the choir at the time, was exasperated with her sitting at the back of the church, waiting to collect the children.
José said: “I sang alto with my daughter Kate and this helped as I began to pick up things quite quickly.”
José, who will celebrate her 90th birthday in October, was brought up in Brighton in a musical family and said she first found music through dance, as her mother was a dance teacher in Hove. She had an aunt round the corner who played violin, Her grandfather was the organist at All Saints Church in Brighton for many years and her grandmother played the piano by ear, a skill José now shares.
Her mother was a land girl at Wickham Farms in the First World War and she loved it, so she moved to Steyning 52 years ago and José went with her.
Zoë now runs her own choirs and José has sung with Cantatrice in Steyning, Henfield, Mannings Heath and Horsham, to name a few. She enjoys the varied repertoire they cover.
The Peate family donated the church’s beautiful choir folders as a surprise for José’s 85th birthday, complete with an inscription inside to mark her loyalty and commitment.
Despite having a hip replacement, José still goes to choir every week and said it was lovely of them to celebrate her long service.