“Gareth Malone is a hero of mine - he is one of the reasons I started the Honey Belles choir,” said musical director Kate Challinor-Moss.
Queen bee Kate came face to face with the television icon when her choir were selected out of hundreds of applicants to appear on the small screen.
Their bid for glory on The Choir: Gareth’s Best in Britain was seen by thousands of viewers this month when they made it through the first stage but weren’t selected as a semi-finalist.
Gareth praised the choir for having good harmonies, great singers, commitment and energy.
But he also had some harsh comments, describing the sound as “not very cool” and “a bit cheesy”.
Kate, 29, of Somersall, Chesterfield, said: “I would have loved Gareth to really gush over us. He was there as a critic.
“The most positive comment was when he said we were audience ready - we are. We shine in front of an audience. With an audience, you can whip them up and we feed off that.
“We were singing just for Gareth and that was a very alien environment for us. We were also singing acapella which we’ve never done before so we were a bit like a fish out of water.”
Choir members who appeared on television represented just a third of the Honey Belles. Kate said: “It was very hard to pick the fifteen singers. Some people didn’t want to be part of the experience and the rest were very gracious and let us get on with it.
“I’m really happy that we decided to be brave and go for it. There’s not many choirs who have been on television and met with Gareth Malone - what a fantastic experience.”
Mezzo soprano Sarah Sammans, of Renishaw, said: “Never in a million years could we have imagined that we would have been on television with Gareth Malone.
“A few of us had been to see him in Manchester in December where we’d watched him on stage with the choir. I don’t think anyone would have thought then that we’d be working with him this year.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life. It was fantastic and so exciting.
“The competitive side of me came out which has not been there for some time. I probably last had it when I was at school winning the sack race when I was eight.”
Gareth’s comments about the choir’s performance have been seen as a learning curve by mezzo soprano Lisa Byers of Renishaw.
She said: “You look to Gareth for nuggets of information to get better. We will get better but we still have to be our own people, sing what we want to sing and not fit into a box.”
Kate, who formed the choir in 2014, added: “Gareth has given us a kick up the bum to think about things and we’re getting more adventurous. We’re going to change it up next year.
“I want to put together a concert with eight different choirs to do as a charity event. And I’d like the Honey Belles to do a CD at the back end of the year.”