An 11-hour ‘music marathon’ is taking place next weekend in memory of a hugely respected member of the local musical community.

Christine Cumber (also known as Christine Delbridge, nee Bowden) was well known across Cornwall for solo singing and was a member of Mabe Ladies choir for 30 years, amongst many other musical activities in Helston and wider area.

Christine, who many will recognise for her nursing and health visitor roles in the community over the years, also led the Maen Voes choir in the St Keverne area for a time, before her death in January 2021, aged 69.

When she died, she left wishes for various pieces of music to be used in her funeral service, but sadly due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions at that time her family were prevented from carrying out many of these wishes.

Her sister, Estelle Turner, said: “We were hardly able to do any of that due to Covid restrictions, and only family members could attend, when in normal times I believe the church would have been full of friends who shared her love of music.”

Now Christine’s family has organised a special event that will combine her love of music with an opportunity for people to remember her, while raising money for charity in the process.

The Music Marathon in Memory of Christine Cumber event will now take place next Saturday, October 7, at the Central Methodist Church in Helston, featuring 11 hours of music from 10am to 9pm.

During this time choirs, instrumentalists, soloists and bands will come together to perform during 25-minute or 55-minute slots throughout the day, with money collected for Christine’s chosen charities, Cancer Research and the British Heart Foundation.

Music will be performed upstairs through the full 11 hours, with additional performances also taking place downstairs at various points during the day.

There will be light refreshments available and people can go in and out to listen as they please.

Estelle will be sharing the compering duties for the event with David Gray, Pamela Carbis and Derek Collins.

Event programme

10am - 10.55am: Helston WI Singing for Wellbeing (upstairs)       

11am - 11.25am: Paul Benney, organist (upstairs), Lewis Jenkin, pianist (downstairs)

11.30am - 12.25pm: Mabe Ladies Choir (upstairs), Saxy Maids saxophone group (downstairs)

12.30pm - 12.55pm: Nigel Dower, organist (upstairs)

1pm - 1.55pm: Singing Seagulls Cornish folk group (upstairs)

2pm - 2.55pm: Pentyr Singers (upstairs)

2.30pm - 2.55pm: Cath Morrison, singer and pianist (downstairs)

3pm - 3.25pm: David Wingham, organist (upstairs), Jill Warden, accordion (downstairs)

3.30pm - 4.25pm: Tresillian Singers (upstairs)     

4.30pm - 4.55pm: Tina Allerton, soloist (upstairs), Jude Bloor, pianist (downstairs)

5pm - 5.25pm: Sarah Carbis, saxophonist (upstairs)

5.30pm - 5.55pm: Clive Ellison, organist (upstairs)

6pm - 6.25pm: Dolce vocal ensemble (upstairs), Elizabeth Tremayne, pianist (downstairs)

6.30pm - 7.25pm: Helston Town Band (upstairs)

7.30pm - 7.55pm: Angela Agutter Thomas, soloist (upstairs)

8pm – 9pm: Kerrier Male Voice Choir (upstairs)

Christine was born at Sevorgan Farm, near Constantine, and attended Wendron School before joining Helston Grammar School. It was here that she developed her love of music and singing, in the school choir and in Gilbert & Sullivan productions.

On leaving school she trained as a nurse and worked the summer holidays as an auxiliary at Helston Cottage Hospital before she left to start her formal training at Hillingdon Hospital, Middlesex. Whilst there, her relationship with Colin Delbridge developed and they married at Constantine Church in 1972.

They lived in Kent for a time, before moving back to Cornwall to live at Rame Cross.

After a short period of district nursing in Helston, Christine completed midwifery training at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, getting her first permanent post in 1974 as a triple worker (combined, district nurse, health visitor and midwife) with Constantine Surgery. Still aged only 23, she was one of the youngest community nurses in Cornwall.

In her spare time she joined Helston and Kerrier Music Society, Helston PTA Opera Group and Mabe Ladies Choir.

Christine later took up various NHS health care jobs, including working at Treliske, Falmouth, Carnon Downs, Chacewater, and in the Helston and Lizard area. Back problems brought her career with the NHS to an end in 1984.

Following Colin’s death in 1986, Christine moved with their two children to Helston, and got a job as a health visitor at Mullion. In 1994 she became a health visitor at Camborne and worked there until 1999.

Having decided that a change of occupation was needed, she went to work at Poldhu Nursing Home where she met Peter Cumber, who she married in 2006 and they moved to a property at Ashton, joining Bal West Methodist Church.

Christine and Peter took up jobs with the Propercare agency looking after people in their homes, later transferring to the agency’s office team. However, she took early retirement following her daughter’s disappearance in 2010.

In 2012 Christine was honoured by the Cornish Gorsedd for her contribution to singing.

She and Peter moved to Manaccan in 2013 and joined Meneage Methodist Church. Not long afterwards, Christine was approached to help form a community mixed choir for the St Keverne area called Maen Voes, although she later had to retire from this due to ill health.