The chorus was formed in 1994 under the direction of well known local barbershopper Alwyn Pooley. He developed the chorus over several years until in 1999 Carol Lakin took over as musical director. During her time in charge the chorus became members of LABBS, the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers, and competed in their national competition for the first time, winning the trophy for the best novice chorus.
In 2003, under the direction of Jon Walker, the chorus was delighted to qualify to sing at the association's national convention for the first time and also to win another trophy at Rothwell music festival.
The present musical director, Anne Turner, has been in charge since September 2003. Under her direction the standard of the chorus has risen greatly, leading to more successes at local festivals and a wider repertoire.
The chorus has taken part in many interesting events over the years, including the 'musical beacon' for the Queen's golden jubilee on BBC1, and singing (in French) for Selby's town twinning association. In 2005 the chorus won Arriva's 'Bag a Bus' competition and used the prize of a bus for a day to sing at Whitby Regatta. In September 2007 the chorus had their first international tour, to Carentan in Normandy, where they had a wonderful time. More recently members of the chorus have travelled to Selby's German twin town Filderstadt, where they have forged links with a local choir called 'Fish & More'. In 2010 the Abbey Belles took part in the inaugural Isle of Man Festival of Choirs, coming second in their class against choirs from all over the country.
In 2008 the chorus was fortunate enough to be taken under the hugely experienced wings of the White Rosettes from Leeds, who are one of England's top barbershop choruses, as a pilot of the LABBS mentoring scheme. With their help the Abbey Belles were thrilled to come 12th at national convention, a standard which was confirmed at the 2009 convention in Cheltenham.
Earlier in 2011 Radio 4's iPM programme did a feature on the Abbey Belles, following the entirely unexpected mention of the chorus during the Radio 4 royal wedding coverage.
Within the chorus there are other, smaller groups of musicicans who meet less regularly, including the 'Treblemakers' and the 'Abbeybella orchestrella'.
We pride ourselves on being a friendly, welcoming chorus who have a lot of fun together as well as working hard.