Letchworth City Chorus chairwoman apologises after some members wear badges supporting choirmaster who admitted grooming 13-year-old boy

Tony Ridgway-Cole, who was sentenced to six months behind bars last month.

Tony Ridgway-Cole, who was sentenced to six months behind bars last month. - Credit: Archant

A Letchworth choir’s chairwoman has apologised after some members wore badges supporting their jailed choirmaster following his admission of grooming a 13-year-old boy.

City Chorus founder Tony Ridgway-Cole was jailed for half a year after he pleaded guilty late last month – but on Wednesday last week badges bearing the words ‘Singing 4 Tony’ were handed out and worn by some choir members at a rehearsal.

A Facebook post made by a choir member that evening – later deleted, but seen by the Comet – shows a picture of one of the badges with 11 ‘likes’.

A source told the Comet that two other choir members had also posted and subsequently deleted pictures of the badges on social media.

The mother of Ridgway-Cole’s victim told the Comet the choir should be shut down.

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“It’s just beyond belief,” she said. “It’s effectively abusing the victim again, which is one thing I am not going to stand for.

“This choir should be shut down, and it will be interesting to hear why the Free Church in Letchworth is allowing its premises to be used by this group now.

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“I reported this to the police, but they said they haven’t committed an offence so they can’t really do anything.”

City Chorus chairwoman Jo Johnson, speaking on behalf of the choir’s committee, said in a statement: “City Chorus is deeply sorry for any distress or offence caused by some members wearing ‘Singing 4 Tony’ badges that were created and distributed without the knowledge or approval of the committee.

“The committee subsequently issued a clear direction that they should not be worn.

“Without reservation, City Chorus in no way condones the action for which Anthony Ridgway-Cole was convicted.”

Tony Ridgway-Cole, 39, founded City Chorus in January 2010 after a period in Australia, where he sang with one of that country’s most prestigious Salvation Army choirs.

He also used to be a Slimming World consultant in Letchworth and Stevenage.

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