Former headteacher wins national carol-writing contest

Bernard Trafford's composition will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 during Christmas Day

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Christmas has come early for a former headteacher who has been crowned the winner of a national contest to compose a new Christmas carol.

Tes columnist Bernard Trafford, who retired as headmaster of Newcastle upon Tyne Royal Grammar School earlier this year, managed to beat hundreds of rivals to win BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast Carol Competition.

Amateur composers from across the country took part in the contest to create a 21st century carol for a 15th century text, Sir Christemas.

His stirring choral arrangement was among six shortlisted by a panel of judges, including Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music, and David Hill, former chief conductor of the BBC Singers.

Martin Carling from Yorkshire, Dominic Carter from Devon, Martin Evans from London, David Hughes from Wolverhampton and Alec McGregor from Leicester also made the shortlist.

The finalists were put to the public vote and listeners chose Dr Trafford’s carol as the winner.

The BBC Singers, directed by David Hill, performed Dr Trafford’s carol live on BBC Radio 3 Breakfast this morning and it will be broadcast on the station during Christmas Day.

Mr Hill, who was chair of the judging panel, said: “Bernard’s carol is a worthy winner of the competition. It’s catchy and well written with lots of energetic rhythm. He has caught the spirit of the text superbly.”

Responding to the news, Dr Trafford said: “Amazing! Humble, heartfelt thanks to everyone who voted for my entry.”

The former headteacher is a musician by training. He composed his first Christmas carol when he was 16, and went on to read music at the University of Oxford before going into teaching.

You can listen to Dr Trafford's composition here, as well as those of the five other finalists.

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