‘Gritty’ festive fun with East Sussex musicals

Gritter musical - Youngsters from Willingdon Primary School with ��Gritt Lightning�", one of East Sussex County Council�"s fleet of gritters SUS-141127-164351001
Gritter musical - Youngsters from Willingdon Primary School with ��Gritt Lightning�", one of East Sussex County Council�"s fleet of gritters SUS-141127-164351001

Youngsters from across East Sussex will sing the praises of the county’s fleet of gritters in a series of Christmas concerts.

Gritter! is the title of this year’s Big Christmas Sing, organised by East Sussex Music Service and featuring around 2,000 children singing in performances at venues, supported by young musicians from county ensembles.

The musical, featuring material specially written by composer Dr Tony Biggin alongside traditional Christmas songs, tells of how the children’s attempt to reach the theatre to perform is hampered by bad weather – until gritters come to the rescue.

Lucy Morgan Jones, acting head of the music service, said, “The Big Sing is one of the highlights of our musical calendar, involving so many children and huge amounts of imagination, creativity and fun. This year we have blended traditional Christmas themes with a topical twist. Children have been telling us how much they have been enjoying the songs from Gritter! and the concerts promise to be heart-warming and festive occasions.”

The centrepiece of the show is the title tune, penned by Dr Biggin, inspired by an encounter at one of last year’s concerts with a theatre usher – who also worked part time as a gritter driver. The tune references the quirky names given to the gritters by East Sussex schoolchildren, which include Girl Plougher, Usain Salt and Gritzilla.

Dr Biggin said, “I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate the skill, dedication and commitment of the gritting team, and when I discovered the lorries had been named so imaginatively and humorously by children, this musical was born.”

The concerts in Eastbourne will feature children and among them is nine-year-old Bailey Tibble, a Year Five pupil at Willingdon Primary School.

Bailey said, “I wasn’t really interested in the nativity or musicals before this but this is different and I love trucks so I wanted to sing. I like the gritter names and the songs are really fun – especially the song Gritter. It will be my first time on stage and my whole family are coming so I am nervous and really excited.”

Tickets are priced £6 for adults and £3 for concessions, available from the venues. Concerts will be held at Eastbourne’s Winter Garden on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday (December 8, 10 and 11).

Youngsters from Willingdon Primary School posed for pictures with one of East Sussex County Council’s gritters, Gritt Lightning, while one of this year’s VIP narrators, Rev David Farey, vicar of Hellingly and Upper Dicker, was on hand to lend some enthusiasm.

He said, “It’s a fantastic, fun way for the kids to do ‘nativity’. There are all the great gritter songs but some really lovely songs with the nativity story.

“As a vicar I am very happy to be doing the narration. It says that you can do religion and make it fun as well.”