Folk band raises ghosts of Imber

This Is Wiltshire: Yirdbards members Patrick Randall, Paul Darby and Verity Sharp are finishing off the EP                      (PM1110) By PAUL MORRIS Yirdbards members Patrick Randall, Paul Darby and Verity Sharp are finishing off the EP (PM1110) By PAUL MORRIS

Pewsey folk band The Yirdbards are releasing a charity CD to raise funds for St Giles Church in the deserted village of Imber.

The Ghosts of Old Imber tells the story of the village, on Salisbury Plain, from which residents were evicted in 1943 to provide an exercise area for American troops.

The villagers left on the condition that they were allowed to return after the war was over but this never happened and Imber is now only open to the public for a maximum of 50 days per year.

Unlike the rest of the parish, which is under the control of the Ministry of Defence, St Giles’s Church has remained in the hands of the Diocese of Salisbury.

Lead singer of The Yirdbards, Paul Darby, became involved with the church last year when he heard the song performed by one of its writers.

He said: “I first heard Nick Plankenhorn sing the Ghosts of Old Imber about a year ago at one of the monthly Pewsey folk music sessions at the Crown Inn and I thought it had a good sing-along chorus and I liked that it told a story.

“Nick was involved in helping to care for the churchyard at Imber. He and a friend, Derek Arnold, had written it and I asked him if I could learn it and play it with The Yirdbards, which he was delighted with.”

Mr Plankenhorn, from Warminster, was approached by the Friends of St Giles to organise a folk concert at the church on one of the open weekends last August, which Mr Darby helped to arrange.

He said: “The last song was The Ghosts of Old Imber, which The Yirdbards performed with Nick and a few other musicians.

“Then Nick had the idea of recording the song back at the church in order that it could be used to raise funds.

“We decided to add a few other tracks and sell it as an EP which we’re just in the process of finishing.”

On Easter Saturday the church will be open to the public and there will be a number of activities, including bell ringing, ahead of the launch of the CD at 2.30pm.

The CD will also be available at Raves from the Grave in Warminster.

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