She could never have imagined where that decision was going to take her but she confesses now that it has been a magical journey filled with glamour, glitz and amazing memories.
“Forming DaleDiva has been one of the highlights of my life so far. I have learnt so much from this fabulous group of women and their hard work and dedication,” she said.
Ally had followed in the footsteps of her mum Brenda and her aunt Beryl by joining them singing with the Derby Ladies Chorus when she was just 11 years old.
Much later when married with a small daughter and being kept busy with her own business she decided she wanted to get singing again and meet some new friends.
She famously launched an appeal in the Matlock Mercury saying: ‘Wanted – women who sing’. Then she waited nervously at the venue to see if anyone would turn up.
To Ally’s surprise 80 women arrived at Cromford Community Centre on that damp November evening and sat down to listen to her introduce them to the world of four-part harmony singing. By the end of the evening DaleDiva was born.
Since then the success of the Cromford-based chorus fronted by the showmanship of Ally in the role of musical director has been unbelievable.
“I always knew that one day I wanted my own chorus but this is bigger than I ever imagined,” said Ally.
“It is no exaggeration to say that this has changed a lot of people’s lives. When they tell me what it has meant to them it is an enormous thing to hear.
“There are 70 very strong characters out there and they challenge me every day. I have to keep doing things right and calling the right shots. We are always pushing our levels.”
The newest addition to the ranks is Rachel Squire, who at just 23 is also their youngest member. The Ilkeston girl joined at the end of August after a tough audition process.
“I first saw them on the TV and wished I could join and then I came along to watch a rehearsal. I had tears in my eyes it was such a special moment and I knew I had to join them. It really is something quite special to be a part of and everyone here genuinely cares about you and helps you along.”
Rachel progressed so well that she was able to be part of the last show they performed and she says she now knows what all the blood, sweat and tears of rehearsals is working towards.
“It was by far the best feeling I have ever had in my life. I am a bigger person for having done this and I really am turning my life around,” she said.
Rehearsal night is Thursdays and everyone is expected to attend unless they have a good excuse. Many of them have jobs and families so it is a huge commitment to make, but to be a Diva means so much that there are often visitors watching in the wings and contemplating an audition.
The women meet at the Theatre Works studio at Via Gellia Mill, which is a perfect rehearsal space for such a large group.
As the start time looms the singers, wearing their uniform of blue emblazoned polo shirts and fleeces to keep out the chill of the evening, embrace, chatter, plan parties, collect subs and welcome their visitors.
As soon as the clock reaches 7.30pm though they swing into action with a rousing warm up and then they work until 10pm with just a short break in the middle. The camaraderie between them is amazing and every rendition electrifying.
To an outsider watching, it appeared absolutely faultless – but Ally pushes for perfection so every song and every move is scrutinised.
The 70 members, aged between 23 and 71, have won medals in various national and international competitions including Channel 5’s Don’t Stop Believing and more recently a silver medal at the Irish International Convention in Waterford. They were just five points behind the winning chorus from Holland.
They have performed in shopping centres all over the county and have even appeared on Children In Need.
Together they have recorded three albums. Definitely Diva was the debut in 2009, followed by DaleDiva in 2010 (their prize for winning the Channel 5 show) and the latest Sing It! Ring It! Bling It! which was released a few months ago.
In November there was a now customary standing ovation for them as they wowed an audience at Derby Theatre with Showtime! – their major public performance this year.
Tonight (December 5) they will be together again to perform at the late night shopping evening in Matlock. The event has been organised by the town’s traders and you will be able to see them outside Peli Deli from 7pm-7.30pm just before the Christmas tree lights are switched on.
The women sing in unaccompanied four-part harmony style which means they don’t rely on a band or even a piano.
Their versatile style of singing means they are just as happy outside as they are in a big concert venue. They perform anything from pop songs to classical pieces and they like nothing more than to take on a new song and give it the DaleDiva treatment.
“This is a culmination of six years of passion, commitment, teamwork, friendship and fun inspired by the belief that together we can achieve things that we would never have dreamed possible,” said Ally.
DaleDiva is all about sharing the journey and I don’t want it ever to end,” she added.
You can find out more about booking them at http://www.dalediva.com, follow them on facebook or watch them in action in the video below.