Memorial to Cantamus Choir stalwart Pamela Cook is unveiled

HEAD GIRL -- sculptor Phil Neal with his bust of Cantamus Girls' Choir leader Pamela Cook.
HEAD GIRL -- sculptor Phil Neal with his bust of Cantamus Girls' Choir leader Pamela Cook.

A memorial to the founder of Mansfield’s world-renowned Cantamus Girls’ Choir has been unveiled at a special concert.

Pamela Cook, who died in July 2013 at the age of 76, devoted 45 years to the choir, guiding them to competition successes around the globe.

So emotions ran high on Sunday when her husband, Geoffrey, revealed a bronze bust of Pamela at the Palace Theatre.

The bust, which has been paid for through public donations, was created by sculptor Phil Neal, who is one of many artists based at The Harley Gallery studios on the Welbeck Estate, near Worksop.

“Pamela was an amazing lady, so it was quite an honour to be commissioned,” said Phil (49), who lives in Langwith.

“It is my first head cast in bronze, but it was a great experience. The girls of the choir were the first to see it, so it was quite emotional.”

The bust, which stands in the foyer of the Leeming Street theatre, is a fitting, permanent tribute to much-loved Pamela, who was an international stalwart of the choral world but a lifelong resident of Mansfield.

More than 400 girls benefited from her expert tutelage after Cantamus was founded in 1968. And one of them, 25-year-old classical singer Lucy Kay, even reached the final of the hit TV show, ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, last year.

In 2005, Cantamus made the UK singles charts with a cover version of the ex-Korgis’ hit, ‘Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime’. But their best achievements came in 1997, when they won the Choir Of The World title at the Llangollen Eisteddford, and in 2006, when they took two gold medals at World Choir Games in China. In all, they won 28 first prizes at events across the world under the direction of Pamela, who was awarded the MBE in 1984.

As for sculptor Phil, he can easily relate to Pamela’s achievements because music is one of his passions.

The bust is just the latest assignment in his remarkable career which began as a hospital prosthetist, rebuilding faces and limbs, and moved on to the TV visual effects industry where he made monsters for ‘Dr Who’ dramas!

Phil, who has also worked in Formula One motor-racing for Eddie Jordan and MotoGP for Kenny Roberts, became a freelance sculptor after losing a foot in an accident pursing his other passion, motorcycling.