Larraine and the military wives head for No1

Larraine Smith
Larraine Smith

A SHELF woman is set for the Christmas No 1 spot with the Military Wives Choir.

Larraine Smith (nee Longden) has had a whirlwind few weeks in which she has sung for the Queen, met the Prime Minister, and appeared on TV and radio programmes.

The 48-year-old said she can’t believe how the choir has been catapulted into the public eye.

The single, Wherever You Are, is the fastest selling in six years and sold 300,000 copies in the first three days of release this week.

It has outsold X Factor winners Little Mix by a ratio of 6:1 and the No 1 spot is practically guaranteed tomorrow afternoon.

Larraine now lives in Plymouth but has extended family living in Shelf where she lived from the age of 17 to 21 and worked as a barmaid at the Shoulder of Mutton and Prince of Orange.

She married Brandon Smith, a major in the Royal Artillery, and the military link has made dreams come true.

She said: “I’ve always enjoyed singing from being a little girl recording in my bedroom to musical theatre, but it has mainly been karoke.”

But when she attended a coffee morning in Plymouth and saw a poster, her life burst into excitement.

She became part of the 100-strong choir formed by Gareth Malone for the BBC2 series The Choir.

Wherever You Are is set to a poem compiled from letters to and from servicemen in Afghanistan.

Performances at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, Downing Street, and elsewhere have captivated the British public.

“It has been such an honour and after the performance at the Royal Albert Hall in mid-November I said we would get a recording contract from it,” said Larraine.

“My family think it is amazing. Like me, they can’t believe it.

“Everything has moved quickly and it has been phonomenal but what it’s about for us is selling copies and raising money for two charities which do a fantastic job.”

Proceeds from the Military Wives CD will be donated jointly to The Royal British Legion and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen Families Association.

Larraine and Brandon have four daughters and two grandchildren. Her relatives in Shelf include mum Maureen Longden; grandma Emma Verity, who is 100 in June; brother Shaun Longden; sisters Debra Newton and Gaynor Darling.

“i am so proud of my sister on this fantastic acheivement,” said Gaynor.