MICHAEL Pritchard, a highly-respected figure in the Cleveland musical scene, retires from his role as a choir conductor this weekend.

He conducts Guisborough Choral Society for the last time at St Nicholas' Church tomorrow, starting at 7.30. He has led the choir for six years.

The 61-year-old lives at Norton and conducted Stockton Vocal Union for 27 years, He taught at four schools in the area, including Ian Ramsey, during his career in education.

Speaking of his time with Guisborough Choral Society, he told the D&S Times: "It's been a very enjoyable six years. We have performed a wide variety of work but I've always particularly enjoyed our Christmas programmes.

"I'll miss the Guisborough choir terribly. Conducting is all about the discovery of music and getting people to sing. I get a real 'wow' from helping people create music. It's something I enjoy enormously, but I've decided it's time to retire from doing it full-time."

But he has other musical plans. He and other singers from Cleveland and North Yorkshire take part in a four-day choral festival in the United Sates, after Easter.

"I've been invited to bring a choir to North Carolina. We have a specially formed choir called Stockton Chorale, with members from Yarm, Guisborough, Stockton, the Moors and the Dales. We'll remain in the States for a few days extra, visiting places such as Washington DC."

Away from music, he and his wife plan to walk from Land's End to John O'Groats in the summer.

"It is just something I've always wanted to do but never had time. We'll get the train down and walk back up, staying at places along the way. I'm really enjoying planning our route." He also leads walks for holiday firms across Britain.