A FORCES wife from Hartlepool is going head-to-head with Little Mix in the race to clinch the Christmas Number One.
Sarah Clarke, 31, is part of the Military Wives Choir whose rise to fame has been meteoric.
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The 60-strong choir from the Royal Marines Base Chivenor in North Devon were complete unknowns eight months ago. They only started a choir to pass the time while their partners were serving in Afghanistan.
But they are now the bookies’ favourites to pip X Factor girl band Little Mix to the top of the festive charts with their song Wherever You Are.
The choir shot to fame on the BBC2 series, The Choir: Military Wives, which saw musical maestro Gareth Malone teaching them to sing in a three-part documentary.
It culminated in a tear-jerking live performance in front of The Queen at the Royal Albert Hall Festival of Remembrance.
The programme was a phenomenal hit and catapulted the wives and girlfriends into the public eye. Since then, they have performed on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing and in Downing Street.
Sarah said: “It is the biggest thing ever to happen to me and it is quite surreal.”
Her 25-year-old husband, Tom, is a Lance Corporal in the Royal Marines.
Sarah lived in Wooler Road, Hartlepool, until she left to join the Royal Navy at 17. Her mum Heather Patterson, formerly from Hartlepool, still lives in the region in Stockton.
Sarah, a former Lynffield Primary and High Tunstall pupil, was an able seaman until she was 22 and was stationed at Plymouth where she met Tom, from Leeds, in a bar six years ago. The couple married and now have an 18-month-old son Olly.
She said the hardest part of being a military wife was when Tom was away.
“You say goodbye to them when they go and you don’t know if it is going to be the last goodbye.
“Your heart is constantly in your mouth with living on a military camp. You hear all the news when someone has been killed.
“But when he comes home safely it is the best thing.”
She is confident the choir can reach the top of the charts especially with their song which was composed from letters sent home from their loved ones.
“I think it touches a lot of people because the military are now in the public eye. My money is on us to do it.”