Wedding day drama fails to stop Steyning choir performing at ceremony

It was supposed to be a special choir performance, a unique way to mark the marriage of choir leader Christabel Cossins during her wedding ceremony.

But things did not go quite to plan as, during the exchange of the rings, Christabel’s mother suddenly collapsed to the ground at All Saints Church in Hove, bringing the service to a halt.

Christabel leading the choir in her wedding dress during the ceremony

Her mother, Gay Cossins, had been looking forward to singing at the church with Sing Out Sister, a group which started in her living room in Greenacres, Steyning, nine years ago.

Since then the all-women choir, led by Christabel, has grown and grown and now has around 40 members aged 40 to 80 who meet every Monday at Steyning Methodist Church.

Christabel said the women love the choir, adding: “They say it is a real community, they’ve made good friends.”

She asked the choir to sing at her wedding to trumpeter Rob Heasman because she said: “I consider them friends and important to my life. To have them there is meaningful.”

Christabel before leaving for the church

But during the service, as her new wedding ring was halfway down her finger, Christabel said she heard ‘a kerfuffle’.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” she said, until she turned around and saw her mother had fallen from her pew.

“She was lying on the floor, she was lifeless. It was awful,” Christabel said.

Fortunately one of the choir members, a retired GP, sprang into action.

Christabel and Rob by the ambulance

Soon Gay, who had regained consciousness, was being wheeled down the aisle to an ambulance waiting outside.

But back inside the church Christabel was determined that the show should go on and, after the vows, she led the Steyning women in a ‘moving and emotional’ rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water.

After the ceremony and a kiss goodbye from Christabel, Gay was taken to hospital for tests – sadly missing the rest of the wedding day.

But despite the drama and with Gay now recovered, the family were able to see the funny side.

Christabel said: “I laughed about it nearly straight away, that’s how you deal with things like that,” adding that the priest had said he had never seen anything like it in 40 years at the church.

She said: “The church was one of my favourite bits despite what happened. It’s such a momentous occasion.

"You look around the church and see everybody you love, it’s really overwhelming.”

Recalling the moment she began to feel unwell, Gay said: “It suddenly came on, I had pains in my chest as I was sitting on the front row, just as the vicar was starting with the I dos.

“I thought, ‘this is so painful’, but I kept sitting there thinking ‘pull yourself together’.”

She spent around five hours in the hospital in total.

But now Gay said: “I think it’s a very funny story. I always see the funny side.”

She described the Sing Out Sisterchoir in Steyning as ‘a sisterhood’ filled with laughter.

Christabel was 'enormous fun and enthusiastic' as a choir leader, she added.

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