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Teenage deputies

26 July 2012

IT WAS the Precentor's idea. Canon Tom Clammer (centre) suggested that, for two consecutive evenings, he would give up leading the congregation in evensong in Salisbury Cathedral, and allow his place to be taken by the two deputy head choristers, both aged 13, of the boys' and girls' choirs.

The head boy chorister gets his chance as Boy Bishop during the Christmas season, when he delivers a "reflection" from the pulpit and leads prayers. The head girl chorister plays a similar part at the cathedral's patronal festival. But the deputies, when it comes to singing, carry almost equal responsibility; so Canon Clammer thought that Rosanna Wicks and Finnbar Blakey should have their big moment before they left for their respective senior schools - Rosanna to Lancing College, and Finnbar to Sherborne.

The Dean, the Very Revd June Osborne, and the Director of Music, David Halls, readily agreed, and the dates were put in the diary. "David prepared the children musically, and I prepared them liturgically," Canon Clammer said. "They were astonishing. I knew they would do the job competently, but actually they led with great maturity and sensitivity in what was a very nerve-wracking situation to put them in."

Rosanna found it "so weird, watching and hearing your own choir sing rather than singing with them". Finnbar said: "We are so used to seeing and hearing the Precentor do his job, but it was completely different to experience it. Most of all I realised how difficult the role is."

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