Maria hoping for top spot

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A FORMER Arbroath lady looks set to bag a Christmas number one single as part of a choir which is taking the country by storm.

Maria Dudley, who was born in the town and is a former pupil of Ladyloan Primary, is part of the Military Wives Choir, a singing group made up of the wives of troops serving in Afghanistan.

The group was put together for a BBC TV series, which sees choirmaster Gareth Malone give novice singers the confidence to perform as a choir together.

In the latest series, he travelled to RMB Chivenor, in Devon, to form a singing group with the wives of soldiers whose husbands were serving in Afghanistan, with the series culminating in the wives performing at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in front of the Queen and other members of the royal family.

The song they sang, an original piece called ‘Wherever You Are’, is now being released as a single in time for Christmas, with bookmakers currently tipping it as second favourite behind the X Factor winner to hit the festive top spot.

And for Maria, who met her husband, Corporal Chris Dudley, while he was serving at 45 Commando, it has been a whirlwind year.

She explained: “When it was first mentioned starting this choir, we just thought it would be a get together a couple of times a week where we would have a bit of a sing song and we would be on TV and that would be that.

“We had no idea that it would come to performing at the Royal Albert Hall and then releasing a single.

“It has all been overwhelming, especially after performing at the Festival of Remembrance in front of the Royal Family.

“That was such an emotional day and performance and I just feel privileged to be part of this.”

After attending Ladyloan Primary School, Maria moved to England with her family before returning to Arbroath where she worked at Specsavers in the Abbeygate.

On marrying her husband Chris, they lived in Falkland Drive before moving to Devon two years ago. They have two daughters, Lauren (3) and one-year-old Laila.

And with the ladies in demand to make TV appearances over the next week as they launch their single, it will be the turn of Chris to stay at home to look after the children.

Maria added: “All of our husbands are back from Afghanistan which is just as well really because we are all so busy now.

“Some of us are appearing on the One Show on Friday then Strictly Come Dancing at the weekend.

“We still can’t believe the reception we have been receiving and for a lot of us it is boosting our confidence.

“Gareth believes in choirs 100 per cent and he is so enthusiastic.

“We would always come from rehearsals with a buzz and I’ve been singing so much even Lauren knows all the words to the song!

“We have had so much support and are so grateful for it.”

All proceeds from the Military Wives Choir’s single is being donated to the Royal British Legion and the Soldiers Sailors Airmen and Families Association.