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The Martin Pickering Award

In 2019, the trustees of the Ouseley Church Music Trust set up a dedicated fund to commemorate its treasurer-trustee, Martin Pickering, who had died suddenly in 2016. Martin Pickering was an active professional singer and conductor both in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, as well as a Lay Canon of Lincoln Cathedral and he worked to foster musical talent wherever he made music. The object of this fund (the “Martin Pickering Award”) is to give grants to individuals born or brought up in Lincolnshire, or Nottinghamshire for the following purposes:

• To encourage young people who have shown vocal potential to become choristers in parish churches, cathedrals or choral foundations in England, Wales, or Ireland.
• To enable young people (aged under 22) to become choral or organ scholars, or lay clerks, in a parish church, cathedral or choral foundation; and
• To defray the costs of courses or training for young people (aged under 22) who are choristers, choral scholars, or organ scholars.
• The next Awards will be distributed in the spring of 2024 and biennially thereafter.

Please view the downloadable leaflet here, which gives further background.

To apply please click here.

Isobel Chesman - Mezzo Soprano - MNP Award Holder 2019

Isobel began her musical training as a chorister at All Saints’ Church, Waltham, Lincolnshire. She began taking singing lessons with Gaynor Rodway and she won a place to study music at Newcastle University with a Choral Scholarship at Newcastle Cathedral. She won places on the Voces 8 Scholarship scheme, Samling Young Artist Programme and the Genesis Sixteen training programme. Whilst on her postgraduate PGCE course at UCL Institute of Education she developed a passion for research into vocal pedagogy which led to further postgraduate study at the Royal College of Music and, in 2022, to an MSc in Performance Science including a ground-breaking thesis into vocal health among the British cathedral lay clerk community.


Her Martin Pickering Award in 2019 enabled her to take singing lessons during her PGCE year with Giles Underwood at the Royal Academy of Music as well as membership of the British Voice Association. She remains active as a mezzo soprano singer around London and is a Lay Clerk at Derby Cathedral. This she combines with her continuing research as a vocal health specialist.

David Whitworth - Countertenor - MNP Award Holder 2019

David was both a chorister and Choral Scholar in the Choir of Grimsby Minster where he sang alongside Martin Pickering for some ten years. He was supported at this time by various musical trusts including the Ouseley Church Music Trust


He writes, ‘Martin was a huge inspiration to me in my formative years, showing me the perfect example of what it was to be a Lay Clerk – a consummate professional of immense vocal skill and musicality.’


He followed his studies to Master’s level in Geoscience at Royal Holloway, London University. He developed his Counter Tenor voice whilst in the Choir of Royal Holloway. He was awarded a MNP Award in 2019 and that enabled him to maintain his singing training alongside his postgraduate academic studies. He became a regular deputy singer at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle and the the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace. He is now a professional geologist and scientific researcher and sings professionally as a Countertenor Lay Clerk at Derby Cathedral and Tewkesbury Abbey.


He further writes: ‘I am privileged to be able to uphold the Anglican choral tradition every day, and this is thanks in no small part to the Martin Pickering Award, and the work of the Ouseley Trust.’

Sophie Poole - Soprano - MNP Award Holder 2019

“I began regular singing lessons when I was about 11 years old. When I was 13, I observed a vocal masterclass and that was the turning point when I decided I wanted to be a singer. I joined the church choir (St Augustine’s Church, Grimsby) when I was 14 and became head chorister at the age of 16. I became highly involved in the life of the church.


I continued with my current teacher until I attained Grade 8. My tutor, however, was encouraging me to take lessons with a tutor from a conservatoire to move forwards to the level I needed to be, but this was unaffordable for me.


The money that I was awarded from the Martin Pickering Award enabled me to begin regular singing lessons with Austin Gunn. The singing lessons were extremely helpful as I developed my technique to a new level and explored lots of new and interesting repertoire which introduced me to composers that I wasn’t familiar with beforehand. Due to me developing my technique further, I could tackle more difficult repertoire as well, which challenged me and pushed me to be, and do better. I was also able to attend a week-long masterclass in France, which allowed me to develop my ability to perform a piece as well as looking at the technical aspects and language. During the masterclass, I observed how certain changes can have a big impact and how you can approach different pieces in a variety of ways. These opportunities were extremely helpful in moving me forwards and developing me not only as a singer but also as a performer. They helped me become more confident in my ability and to look deeper into what a piece can offer both technically and emotionally.


I was delighted when in 2022, I began studying at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, fulfilling my dream. Church music remains an important aspect of my life and I will always be grateful to the Martin Pickering Scholarship Award which opened the door for me to begin this journey.”



Please ensure that you have read the Martin Pickering leaflet before completing your application form.

Please also remember that where the applicant is aged under 18, the form will need to be co-signed by the parent or guardian.

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