Barbershop singers across Britain have vowed that an “inspirational” musical director, who died suddenly aged 28, will never be forgotten.
The name of Katy Phillips is to live on with the launch of a national award and bursary in her memory.
Katy, from Leyland, became the youngest musical director in the country when she picked up the baton for the Preston-based Red Rosettes women’s chorus as an 18-year-old. Her tragic death in April stunned the world of barbershop singing and left family and friends devastated.
Now members of the Red Rosettes are staging two special events in Chorley on June 15 and 16 to raise cash to fund the award.
“Katy’s family, the Rosettes and the Barbershop Association nationwide are all devastated by the loss of this talented and inspirational woman,” said chorus member Jackie Finney.
“We all miss her terribly. She was a warm, caring person whose passion for a cappella singing and performance was unequalled. Her death was very sudden and very tragic.
“In tribute to Katy, the Ladies Association of Barbershop Singers have established the Katy Phillips Young Barbershopper of the Year Award and bursary.
“Donations in her memory will fund an annual bursary that will provide support for ongoing barbershop education to the recipient each year.”
Epilepsy sufferer Katy was found dead on April 13. An inquest into the cause of her death has not yet been held.
She took on the job as musical director of the Rosettes as a teenager and lifted the chorus towards the top 20 in the country.
Her mother Teresa, sisters Emma and Lorna and niece Emily are all members of the Rosettes. Dad Eamonn is also a barbershop singer.
Now Emma has taken temporary charge of the 50-strong chorus as it prepares for an appearance in the UK Championships in Bournemouth in October – a performance which will now be dedicated to Katy’s memory.
“It has been an incredible blow for us all,” said Jackie who will host the two vintage afternoon tea events at her Inglewood Boutique Hotel in Southport Road.
“Many of the Rosettes had known Katy since she was an 11-year-old and are heartbroken at her loss.
“When she took over as musical director of around 50 women it must have been a very daunting job for her, but she did it magnificently. She was an immense talent.
“Courageously her sister Emma is conducting the chorus at the moment. We are all trying to carry on with preparing for the UK.
“Katy would have wanted us to carry on. It was her life.”