MORE than 150 singers gathered to raise a church’s rafters and thousands of pounds for a lifesaving charity.

An audience of 300 packed St Mary’s Church in Loughton on Saturday to see the Wanstead and Woodford Rock Choir perform.

The concert raised more than £3,700 for Maytree, a North London-based charity that provides free accommodation and support for suicidal people.

The event was the brainchild of member Ali McGowan, of Greenfields, Loughton, who was helped by a stay at the charity’s respite centre in 2010.

The 48-year-old had contemplated suicide following a long battle with depression which saw her lose her job as a paramedic.

“I could have done a parachute jump, but that would have been much easier than spending two months arranging an event like this,” said Ms McGowan, who joined the choir a year after visiting Maytree.

“It is like music therapy. It has totally transformed my life, to the extent that when we finished for the summer in July I cried.

“Our choir has a large number of members who joined for exactly that reason and it has transformed their lives. “

Ms McGowan opened the performance with a speech, sharing her own experiences and explaining the importance of the service provided by Maytree.

“My GP has been such a support through my depressive illness and suicidal crisis and is so keen for people to seek help and not say what I did – ‘I would rather die than go into hospital’,” she said.

“I wanted to raise money for Maytree and also bring awareness to the place.”

The line-up included performances of Something Inside so Strong, How Deep is Your Love and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.

“The event was a roaring success – the whole church was absolutely rocking,” said Ms McGowan.

“We had the founder of Maytree there and she was so overwhelmed she couldn’t do her speech.”

  • For more information about Maytree, visit or call 0207 272 6863.
  • For more details about Rock Choir and forthcoming events, visit or email