Maria grabs number one spot with military wives

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FORMER Arbroath lady Maria Dudley says she is still finding it hard to believe she is part of the group that landed the 2011 Christmas number one song.

Maria, a former pupil of Ladyloan Primary School is part of the Military Wives Choir which hit the festive top spot with their song ‘Wherever You Are’.

The choir was part of a television series, which saw choirmaster Gareth Malone create a choir made up of the wives of troops who at the time were serving in Afghanistan.

Since then their single, ‘Wherever You Are’ has been taken to the heart of the nation and on Christmas Day it was announced it had reached number one to become the fastest selling single of the year.

And the announcement came as a shock just as Maria and her family were about to sit down to Christmas Day lunch.

She told the Herald: “We put Top of the Pops on the TV in the kitchen just as we were about to have our lunch when they announced that we were number one and that is when the champagne started to pop and everyone cheered.

“It is unbelievable we made it to number one and everything is still really hard to absorb.

“I just feel really lucky and privileged to be part of all of this.”

Maria was born in Arbroath and moved south to England with her parents before returning to the town, where she worked at Specsavers in Abbeygate.

Her husband Corporal Chris Dudley was serving with 45 Commando at RM Condor when they met but they are now based at RMB Chivenor in Devon.

They have two daughters Lauren aged three and one-year old Laila.

Maria joined the choir while her husband Chris was away in Afghanistan and a BBC Two programme called ‘The Choir’ featuring Gareth Malone charted their progress.

The series culminated in a performance at the Royal Albert Hall at the Festival of Remembrance where they performed ‘Wherever You Are’ in front of the Royal Family.

The song was composed by Paul Meallor and the lyrics were made up from the letters exchanged by the wives and their husbands while they were away on tour.

All proceeds from the song are being donated to the Royal British Legion and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association.

And ever since the single was released the choir’s popularity has soared.

Maria explained: “I appeared on Saturday Kitchen and then the whole choir performed at the Military Awards which was absolutely brilliant and I felt really privileged to be there.

“It has just been so busy and Christmas seems to have come second this year but there is no way I would have thought this is what would have happened all those months ago.

“We just thought we would do the Royal Albert Hall and that would be it as we had no inclination just how big everything was going to be.

“There have just been lots of celebrations and lots of champagne.”

Now the wives are taking a well earned break after a whirlwind few weeks before getting together for rehearsals again in early January.

And 2012 looks like it could be another exciting year for the choir.

Maria added: “On Tuesday we had confirmation that the single is being released in the United States.

“We are not really sure how it will go over there but it is quite exciting.

“There is talk about releasing an album of all of the songs we have performed but that is still a rumour at the moment.

“We are pencilled in for a couple of performances so 2012 looks like it will be a great year too.”