Cricket Fan's Choral Half Century Not out; Songs of Joy and a Kiss from Brian Statham

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Byline: David Charters

HER cheeks were once kissed by Brian Statham, legendary fast bowler for England and Lancashire.

And it was a fine moment in the life of the little lady whose devotion to music just edges ahead of her love of cricket.

Now she is rehearsing her singers for an even greater moment.

Doris Parkinson is about to celebrate her 90th birthday and the 50th anniversary of being appointed as conductor of the old girls' choir.

It was Winifred Ashton, the formidable headmistress at Wirral Grammar School for Girls, Bebington, who suggested a choir would help develop a sense of continuity between pupils past and present.

Miss Parkinson, who taught music and geography, was the obvious candidate for such a task.

She smiles at the memory in the lounge of her beautifully kept home in Bromborough, about a mile from the school.

Her musical side, she says, came from her mother, Sarah. Her father, William, transport manager at the Wigan Coal Corporation, was more enthusiastic about cricket, though he was known to sing a good hymn in his bath.

How proud they would both have been if they could see their daughter now, as she prepares for the Golden Jubilee reunion concert to be held at the school on Friday.

But she had done enough to make them proud in their lifetimes, passing from the Wigan High School to Liverpool University.

There, she studied geography for her BA, but continued with her music studies on one of the two pianos in the pharmacology department, where she was often faced with notices advising on the doses of a particular medicine which should be administered to a cow.

Before long, Miss Parkinson was chairman of the Liverpool Music Society.

In 1935, she left university to take up a post at the Houghton-le-Spring Grammar School, near Sunderland, where she stayed for 10 years before moving to Wirral.

``We used to call ourselves the Wirral County Grammar School Old Girls' Choir,'' recalls Miss Parkinson.

``But it was such a long name and some people used to abbreviate it down to the WoGs. Eventually, we called ourselves the Wirral Singers.

``You'd be surprised where some of them are coming from for the reunion concert. There is one coming from the heart of America, another from Canada, and from all over the British Isles.''

More than 30 women, often still calling themselves girls, attend the choir's Monday night practices. …