Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Fitzroy's Big Sing -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Fitzroy's Big Sing

Broadcast: 23/12/2009

Reporter: Brigid Donovan

After the initial Big Sing a decade ago, lawyer Tom Dugdale and his friends decided they wanted to
do more than host a giant yuletide singalong. They formed the charity group the Gertrude Players
which has so far raised $120,000 to support music and other programmes for children in the local
area. While the high spirits generated by the December carols is the highlight of their year, the
Gertrude Players also see it as an an opportunity to remember an absent friend.

Transcript

HEATHER EWART, PRESENTER: It's that time of the year again when people dust off the Christmas carol
song books and give their vocal chords an annual work out for the festive season.

For the past decade a group of enthusiastic, if not talented, singers have joined voices for The
Big Sing in inner city Melbourne. It's about getting people onto the streets and in true Christmas
spirit it's all done for a good cause. Brigid Donovan reports.

BRIGID DONOVAN, REPORTER: A pub in the inner Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy might be an unlikely
meeting place for a Christmas carol sing along, but over the years The Big Sing has formed its own
festive traditions.

TOM DUGDALE, FOUNDER OF THE BIG SING: So the crazy idea started about 10 years ago at about three
or four in the morning when me and a few mates were singing in the wee hours the morning singing
Christmas carols an footy club theme songs and we decided that we should Christmas carol through
the streets.

BRIGID DONOVAN: The Big Sing has grown by word of mouth from 35 people 10 years ago to around 500
this year.

Fitzroy is an old working class suburb with an eclectic mixture of housing commission high rise,
gentrified terraces and student share houses. It's the perfect backdrop for a carol crawl, with
locals enjoying the festivities.

TOM DUGDALE: We're aware of the view that everybody loves to sing but when you're in a group of 300
people and you can yell and sing as badly as you like to songs that everybody knows, the
inhibitions go, there's no self consciousness and that's what I think people get the most of The
Big Sing.

THE BIG SING CAROLLER: I think just traipsing through the streets of Fitzroy and just the straggly
nature of it is what's really lovely. Bookended by a couple of stops at the pub.

THE BIG SING CAROLLER 2: The fun of it, the absurdity of it and I love the idea of walking up and
down the streets of Fitzroy with a beer. It's quite fun.

BRIGID DONOVAN: After the initial Big Sing a decade ago, lawyer Tom Dugdale and his friends decided
they wanted to do more than host a giant sing along. They formed the charity group the Gertrude
Players which has so far raised thousands of dollars to support music and other programs for
children in the local area.

While the high spirits generated by the carols is the highlight of their year, the Gertrude Players
also see it as an opportunity to remember an absent friend.

TOM DUGDALE: If we just have a bit of quiet this is the serious part of today. The Little Drummer
Boy is sponsored by Carl Yeomans and Carl passed away a couple of years ago and Carl was one of our
very good mates.

For Julia Buxton and her five year old son Marlow, The Big Sing is also a time to remember their
husband and father Carl Yeomans.

JULIA BUXTON, MOTHER: He just loved Christmas, that was the thing about Carl, really loved
Christmas and loved this occasion and The Little Drummer Boy was one particular favourite of his,
one Christmas carol that he just absolutely loved and bellowed it around the house.

TOM DUGDALE: It's not religious, it's more festive than religious and so a lot of the Christmas
carols are very religious so we thought we'd throw in a few non-religious songs.

BRIGID DONOVAN: After another pub stop for the grownups and a play for the kids, the carol crawlers
gather for final songs of the evening. With not a picnic rug in sight and voices getting hoarse
after two hours of singing it's time for the grand finale, an enthusiastic rendition of The Twelve
Days of Christmas.

The historic steps of the Fitzroy town hall may be a big world away from the big crowds of Carols
by Candlelight, but the spirit of the season is well and truly arrive live as generations both
young and old sing it like they mean it.

TOM DUGDALE: That is one of the catch cries; it's always sing it like you mean it. But that's what
it's all about. It is about being free with the lyrics and being free with your voice and releasing
the inhibitions and therefore releasing and becoming more festive as a result of it. If you sing
like that then you're much more a part of it, you're definitely going to have much more fun.

HEATHER EWART: That looks a lot of fun to me. Brigid Donovan reporting.