A CHOIR formed 40 years ago by staff at a young offenders institution may have to disband unless a new leader steps forward.

Deerbolt Ladies Singers have been delighting audiences for decades, staging spring and Christmas concerts every year.

The group was born out of The Deerbolt Singers, made up of staff at the young offenders’ institution of the same name at Startforth, Barnard Castle.

Over the years, male membership dwindled to nothing but the women remained, with Margaret Forrest at the helm.

However, after 26 years of dedicated service, Mrs Forrest is retiring and the choir is desperately seeking a replacement with the “same flair and love of music.”

The choir, which has raised hundreds of pounds for charity, rehearses at Barnard Castle Methodist Church each Tuesday at 6pm and also performs for community groups.

Choir member Vera Hughes said: “We very much want to continue singing, and if anyone out there would be interested in becoming our leader, we would love to hear from you.”

Anyone interested can contact Mrs Forrest on 01833-637031 or Clare Owen on clare@bhaven.plus.com

The choir’s next production, Songs from the Shows, takes place at the church on Saturday, May 16, at 7pm. Tickets are £4 on the door.