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The nation’s favourite choirmaster Gareth Malone was thrilled to be given an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours on Saturday - and said he was indebted to his long-suffering parents for putting up with his hours of piano practice.

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The Crouch End music maestro has become familiar to TV viewers for his many BBC shows in which he whips raw recruits into concert performers.

Malone has also pulled off the unlikely feat of leading his choirs on two number one singles in the space of less than six months.

He said: “This is a great honour and one I’m thrilled about.

“Over the past 10 years, encouraging people to sing has been a labour of love so it’s wonderful to be recognised in this way. I am hugely grateful to all the people I have worked with in both television and the arts for helping me to bring music into people’s lives.”

Mr Malone - who also thanked his wife for her support, and Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans - added: “I would not be receiving this honour if it weren’t for the unstinting support of my long-suffering parents through hours of piano practice and I’m indebted to them for all they have given me.

“It is extra special to receive an OBE during the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations, having just performed at the jubilee concert. What a year.”

Mr Malone’s parents sang in a local choir, and he went on to sing in ensemble at his grammar school in Bournemouth.

He later studied drama at the University of East Anglia - composing, singing and directing for a student drama group. He further developed his choral work with a postgraduate degree in singing at the Royal Academy of Music and it was while working with choirs as an animateur at the London Symphony Orchestra that he was approached by TV producers about working on their new project.

The resulting series, The Choir, was seen by more than three million viewers and he has gone on to work on five more choir TV projects, as well as children’s programmes.

The father-of-one famously took his Military Wives choir - assembled for a BBC2 show last year - to number one, holding X Factor winners Little Mix off the top of the charts for Christmas.

And then he guided the women again when they featured on Gary Barlow’s diamond jubilee anthem Sing, conducting the choir when they performed at the jubilee concert.

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