These are strange and difficult times. Covid-19 has affected every part of our lives, with businesses closed, schools shut and what we once considered ‘normal’ radically changed overnight.

The global pandemic has had a local impact too. Menston near Ilkley is normally bustling with families and commuters going about their daily business. It’s a friendly Yorkshire village which I’m proud to call home.

Photograph of Main Street in Menston in West Yorkshire
The picturesque West Yorkshire village of Menston, near Ilkley.

Sadly, the virus has halted many of the events that would normally take place here. Regular community groups can’t come together as usual, some businesses have had to temporarily cease trading and people aren’t able to see their family and friends.

With many people understandably feeling worried and anxious, I decided to use my video production skills to help raise a smile and lift spirits.

“I wanted to produce something that would bring the local community together, get people talking and ultimately help raise a smile during these difficult and worrying times.”

Michael Wood

Inspired by all the beautiful rainbow pictures that had been popping up in people’s windows, I created 'The Big Menston Sing-along' – a community music project where local residents were invited to come together virtually to perform a heart-warming rendition of the song ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.

A screengrab from The Big Menston Sing-along coronavirus lockdown video
A screenshot from the finished video.

For the performance to work successfully, it was important that everybody sang at the same time and in the right key. So, with the help of a local pianist, I posted a master audio track on the local Facebook group for people to download and sing along to.

The response from the village community was overwhelming. I received 47 video and photo submissions in just two weeks, including performances from professional and amateur musicians alike. Some people sang and some played instruments including violins, trombones, saxophones and clarinets.

Rainbow pictures and paintings produced during the coronavirus lockdown in Menston
Some of the rainbow pictures submitted by young people in the village.

Local children submitted photos of the colourful rainbow drawings and paintings that had initially inspired the project. It took just under a week to professionally mix the audio and edit all the pictures together.

In just one week, the video was seen by 9,912 people and had 3,292 engagements on Facebook. It was also featured in the local press by the Ilkley Gazette, the Telegraph & Argus and the Wharfedale Observer

You can watch the finished video here:

Michael Wood video production in Ilkley

Michael Wood is a freelance video producer based in Ilkley. With over 13 years experience as a BBC-trained television director, he now uses his TV production skills to help small businesses stand out from the crowd with powerful online videos.