A community choir has won national acclaimed after being named Gospel Choir of the Year 2017.

The Big Sing, which was founded in Witham in 2011 by Gemma Francis and husband Howard, overcame competition from four other choirs to win the title during a special edition of BBC’s Songs of Praise on Sunday.

Members of the choir performed Souled Out at Westminster’s Central Hall in front of a live audience and a panel of judges featuring 90s soul legend Seal, worship leader Muyiwa Olarewaju and award-winning gospel specialist Karen Gibson.

Mrs Francis said: “We feel amazing having won and we are on cloud nine. It is a massive honour for us.

“We will see what happens but having the title is going to do so much for our profile. We will be invited for some gigs in the future I am sure.

“The Big Sing is one big family. The choir members who were not singing were there in the audience. We took around 250 people.”

To enter the competition the choir had to submit two live video recordings, before a shortlist of hundreds was narrowed down to just the five finalists who performed live during the BBC One show.

Judges called The Big Sing’s performance a “juggernaut” and said they stepped up their game for their final song.

Mum of two Mrs Francis said: “When we got to the final we were so happy we were down to the last five and we just wanted to be on the show and enjoy ourselves.

“We were in a big dressing room out the back and we weren’t able to see or hear the other choirs performing so we did not know how they had done.

“It was really exciting for us to be a part of the show.”

Since The Big Sing was founded the choir has grown to encompass 30 different groups and more than 800 singers.

In April this year the group set up its own charity, The Big Sing Soul.