KIDLINGTON Amateur Operatic Society musical director Paul Ingram is gearing up for his latest challenge – the show he conducted for the group’s launch 35 years ago.

The retired teacher has held the baton at the society through 27 shows since 1978. There have been repeats, with a reliance on light opera specialists Gilbert and Sullivan.

Now he is to lead the orchestra and choir through the show that was its first official performance, the fairy-themed Iolanthe, at Gosford Hill School from tomorrow to Saturday.

The cellist said: “I love music, it has given me a chance to do so many different shows.

“There is a lot of teaching and explaining how music works and, hopefully, teaching people how to improve and to get the overall view of the piece of music.”

The retired former head of science at Witney’s Henry Box School was among a group of music lovers who set up the group after a charity concert at Exeter Hall in 1977.

The performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience raised several hundred pounds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

The society’s centrepiece is the October production, the product of five months of rehearsals. It boasts a 25-piece orchestra and often sells out.

This is followed by the society’s two Christmas charity concerts, held each year at the village’s St Mary’s Church.

This year’s Christmas concerts on December 20 and December 21 will raise funds for national children’s charity the Rainbow Trust and a local charity, which has not yet been selected. In recent years, the society’s Christmas concerts each year have raised a total more than £3,000 for charities.

Mr Ingram, 64, said he has never tired of the years of hard work, adding: “It is still lovely working on live music and interacting with an orchestra with a choir.

“It is bringing it together that is such a wonderful experience.”

The show usually involve about 40 of the society’s 90-odd members.

Asked what advice he would give to his 30-year-old self when taking on Iolanthe again, he said planning rehearsals and a focus on committing the show to memory was key.

Mr Ingram, of Brasenose Drive, Kidlington, said: “Going on stage is quite an experience. I think they just enjoy showing off.”

Society member Sarah Sheldon said: “Paul Ingram has devoted a huge amount of time to running the society over the last 35 years and it has given so much to the community – both members and audience.”

For more information about the society, see