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Norwich concert in memory of singers

PUBLISHED: 13:41 07 April 2011

Brian Astley, who was part of the Octagon Concert Singers.

Brian Astley, who was part of the Octagon Concert Singers.

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Two singers who died within just eight days of each other are to be remembered as part of an emotional charity concert this Easter.

The Octagon Singers will be performing a Good Friday concert at the Octagon Chapel in Colegate, Norwich, in memory of Isobel Best and Brian Astley who both died in January following battles with cancer.

The concert, which will raise money for Priscilla Bacon Lodge and Big C cancer charity, has been welcomed by the families of Mrs Best and Mr Astley.

Renee Astley, 68, from Great Ellingham, near Attleborough, said it was a “wonderful” tribute to the two of them who were long-time members of the Octagon Singers.

She said: “It’s so sad but it happens. Brian know Isobel and they used to enjoy lots of laughs. One side of Brian’s nature was that he had a sense of the ridiculous and used to like silly jokes. He was good fun and a very fun person.”

Mrs Astley said her husband lost his “brave” fight to cancer on January 1 aged 79. She said the father-of-two and grandfather-of-two was first diagnosed with bowel cancer four years ago but unfortunately the disease returned and spread.

She said: “He died very peacefully on January 1. He had a brave fight, I’m just greatly relieved he’s out of pain now.”

Mrs Astley, who was married for almost 40 years, said her husband’s love of music started as a 15-year-old growing up in Essex and saw him be a member of several music groups over the past 55 years or so, including the Octagon Singers.

She added: “He loved choral music. His great passions were cricket, football - his beloved West Ham - and music. He did lots of choral music over the years.”

Fellow Octagon singer Isobel Best was diagnosed with inoperable bowel cancer in September last year and died on January 9 aged just 62.

Her husband Geoff, also 62, from Neatishead, near Wroxham, said: “It’s sad that they’re having to remember two of their former members but it’s nice for something to be held in their memory.”

Mr Best, who would have celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary to Isobel this June, said his wife, a mother-of-three and grandmother-of-three had been a member of the Octagon Singers almost since the couple moved to Norfolk in 1990.

He said: “She always wanted to sing Bach and found it difficult to convince them to sing it but they’re going to this Spring - it’s just a shame she wont be there to see it.”

Mary Rae, concert conductor who has organised the event, said: “Isobel Best and Brian Astley were long serving and highly respected members. We miss their support, humour and singing, and we give this concert in their memory.”

Tickets for the concert, which takes place at 7.30pm on Friday, April 22, are £6; concessions £5 and are available from St George’s Music Shop, St George’s Street, Norwich.

Are you paying tribute to a loved one in an unusual way? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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