It’s the success story that wasn’t planned. Five years after the one-off performance at the YFC’s 75th anniversary concert, the Farmers wives and Farmers choir still sounds as fresh as that first night when they performed at the Hydro in Glasgow.

The joy the members take from the process of rehearsing, the camaraderie, the old friendships rekindled and the new friends made, has kept the choir members coming back time after time.

I meet them at their pre-concert rehearsal at the Cartland Hotel in Lanark, the next performance is on February 25, at Troon.

Today there is quite a lot of snow in Ayrshire, so some have called off, but we have singers who have travelled from as far as Argyll and Perthshire. There are members that live in Campbelltown and there has been members from as far away as Moray. The commitment is real.

Back in 2013 the initial choir was made up of around 40 men and almost 110 ladies. Of course, the numbers have dropped off a little but in total there is still in the region of 90 people who make every effort to come to each rehearsal.

I want to talk to them about why they keep coming back? Is it the joy of singing, or the social aspect?

Everyone I spoke to says that it is both. And without fail, everyone said that there would no choir without the infinite knowledge, patience and talent of Kate Picken who is choir director. Working alongside her is pianist Robert Menzies, who has worked so hard with the choir that they trust him implicitly, particularly when things go a little wrong, it seems Robert has played them out of a few tricky situations.

Janet Storey, the choir treasurer, gives me the run down of how the rehearsals work. Janet knows everyone who is arrives, she has a cheery greeting for them all, she knows where they have all travelled from and points us in the right direction of who to speak to. I want a Janet for every job I go on.

The other face missing from today's rehearsal but who works incredibly hard in the background is Annette Henderson who is the choir secretary. Annette's husband Keith also helps out at the performances, he does the compering, warming up the crowd with his jokes.

The boys are first in for their rehearsal. I corner Lawson Barrie, from Biggar, and Russell Kingan, from New Abbey, in Dumfries, they both signed up back at the beginning and tell me that they make the effort to come to all the rehearsals.

“You’ve got to be committed, and I think everybody is. There is a good mix of ages here and they come from all over the country,” says Lawson. I ask if they are both singers. “Well, I wouldn’t say that,” says Russell modestly, “A lot of the choir members took part in the YF talent shows over the years, so it wasn’t such a big jump to be involved in a choir.”

Margaret Wright comes all the way from Northumberland to rehearse, previously a Stranraer girl, Margaret comes to the choir with her husband David.

Margaret also joined-up in the beginning, with David joining a year later. She says: “I love the singing, but socially it’s fab. I’ve met up with so many people that I knew from years ago when I lived in Stranraer, and I’ve made many new friends through the choir, it as important as the singing I think.”

After a two-hour journey from Argyll, Nan McLachlan was happy to be sitting down to a bowl of soup with some of her choir pals before it was the ladies turn to rehearse.

“You don’t get much time to socialise at the rehearsals as the men sing for one hour, then we join them for one hour, then the ladies sing for an hour on our own. On the day of the performance there is more time to catch up with everyone as we are there all day. I too used to sing in the YF concerts, and I still feel a powerful buzz when the choir is singing.”

The ladies around the table agree that when Kate picks one of the more emotional songs, that it can bring a tear, particularly when they can see the audience react in the same way.

Another lady told me that she loves the singing because it takes her away from everything she has to think about. There truly is something about a collection of voices singing in harmony that sends shivers down the spine and triggers a “I’ve got something in my eye,” moment.

Something I hadn’t thought about but they all agreed on, was that it was really important to sit or stand next to the same group of people at each rehearsal.

Three ladies who come down from Perthshire, Shona Stewart, Janice Craig and Isobel Baxter agree that you need to make sure you are in the right position.

“You get used to who you sit next to, it is really difficult if you are next to someone different. If you are a soprano and you are next to someone who is alto, you end up tuning in to the wrong part of the song and it puts you off.”

They all agree that the one thing they need in front of them all to keep them right is Kate. Shona adds: “Kate is so expressive in her actions, her arms, her facial expressions, she can lift the performance just by giving us particular looks with her eyes. She is terrific.”

The age range in the choir is impressive, it goes from 25 to 82. Everyone seems to get on together. The ladies were giving away some tour secrets about their trip to Campbelltown for a performance. They made a weekend of it and stayed two nights. By the sounds of it there were many new friendships made that weekend, as they tell me that they don’t often get a chance to mix with some of the ladies who sit at the other end of the choir from them. But two nights socialising together soon sorted that out. I can chare no more secrets!

What they also liked about the rehearsals is that they start on time, and finish on time. They have a lot to get through and everyone has to concentrate to get through it. They are given a CD to take home with the songs on to practice. It’s fun though, there are laughs, retakes, lots of stopping and starting to get it right but all eyes are trained on Kate at all times. Kate has high standards and her choir works hard to reach them.

The group have a few run throughs of a song, and they take it from the top and sing it right through. The song finishes and I really want to clap. But it’s a rehearsal and they are quickly onto the next song.

Kate and Janet tell me that their numbers are healthy but static at the moment, but they always welcome new members. Particularly men, they need more in the male choir. There’s no audition, and you don’t have to be a farmer or involved with farming at all to join. Just be willing to commit a few Sundays each year to rehearsing and join the in the fun on the day of the performances.

So far, the choir has raised more than £27,000 for charity. The Troon concert will see proceeds go to RSABI. The choir members are asked to pick the charities that the funds go to. They also raise funds for Motor Neuron and McMillan nurses. Each performance raises in the region of £3000 for charity.

If you are interested in joining the choir, get in touch with Kate Picken for more details, you can email her at