Military Wives are the Christmas number one after selling 556,000 copies in a week

By Alanah Eriksen

Number one! Members of the Military Wives Choir found out they have landed the top spot in the music charts

The Military Wives choir has marched to the top of the charts, taking the coveted Christmas number one spot.

Their single, Wherever You Are, sold 556,000 copies in the last week, more than the rest of the top 12 combined, the Official Charts Company said.

It beat X Factor winners Little Mix with their cover of Damien Rice's Cannonball.

It also became the fastest selling single since Alexandra Burke’s Hallellujah sold 576,000 in its first week in December 2008.

Members of the group were today presented with the Number 1 Award by Reggie Yates at 3pm today, during the festive edition of BBC1's Top Of The Pops.

Gareth Malone formed the group for BBC2 programme The Choir, which climaxed with the group performing at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.

Proceeds from the single are being donated to the Royal British Legion and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA).

We did it! This is the moment members of the group finds out they had landed the Christmas number one at the Royal Citadel in Plymouth, Devon

Representing! Choir members Sam Stevenson, Nicky Kenyon and Kerry Riva receive their Official Singles Chart Number 1 Award by Reggie Yates, co-host of the Christmas Day Top Of The Pops

Malone said: 'This is so surreal. Who would have guessed in those first rehearsals that we could take Christmas Number 1?

'It's testament to the Military Wives' hard work and the nation's support of them, as well as the power of choral singing.

'It's a winning combination - a Christmas Number 1 winning combination! Thank you to the British public for supporting the Royal British Legion and SSAFA Forces Help by buying this single.

'Chris Evans and Radio 2 have helped us to showcase the talent and strength of these amazing women. The support of the British military for the choir has been fantastic. I'm delighted that they have found their voice. We did it!'

On top: The group's single Wherever You Are has sold 556,000 copies in the past week

Members of the choir were overjoyed at their success today.

Emma Williams, 33, was celebrating with husband Staff Sergeant Gavin Williams, 34, a fuel engineer with the Royal Logistic Regiment, Royal Marines.

He returned from Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, the week before the choir sang at the Royal Albert Hall in October.

The couple, who live at Royal Marines Base (RMB) Chivenor in North Devon, were celebrating with children Lucy, four, and Ben, seven, as well as Gavin's parents Joan and Rob Williams.

Well done! Gareth Malone formed the group for BBC2 programme The Choir, which climaxed with the group performing at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall

Mrs Williams said: 'It's absolutely fantastic. I can't believe that I can actually sit here on Christmas day and say I've got a single out that is number 1, and what a brilliant Christmas for our two charities, the British Legion and SSAFA. It feels unreal.

'It just feels like it is happening to someone else and you see yourselves on the television or the children are watching you sing the song on television and they're like 'Mummy, Mummy, it's you, it's you'. It's just unbelievable.

'I think if you really look at the words, it can go across to so many people, not just military people but others that have lost a loved one through other circumstances as well and the words, people can just relate to it.

Lost: The group has beaten X factor winners Little Mix to the top spot - the first time the talent show winners have been overtaken

'We have spent several Christmases apart but the worst one for us was when our son was born and Gavin missed our baby's first Christmas and that was really quite sad, but we have been really fortunate, there are families that repeatedly miss Christmas and we are aware of that.

'It isn't very nice to be apart from loved ones and there are thousands across the country that can't be together this Christmas for whatever reason and for them we pray for you and wish you a merry Christmas, if not this year then definitely next year.

Staff Sgt Williams added: 'It's genuinely mind-blowing, absolutely amazing, like Emma said. We thought it was going to be quite a small thing, obviously it aired on the BBC. However, the way it has snowballed since the Royal Albert Hall has been absolutely phenomenal, so yeah, it's been brilliant, absolutely brilliant.'

Taking over: The group performing on the Graham Norton Show, at The London Studios this week

RAF flight sergeant Andy Leonard, of 22 Squadron, had already put the champagne on ice to celebrate wife Kelly's success.

He even features on the video with the couple's sons Ethan, four, and two-year-old Joseph.

Mrs Leonard said: 'It's really surreal and I don't think it has really sunk in yet so yes, it's pretty amazing, actually. Just the thought of being able to tell my grandkids I had a Christmas number one, it's a bit scary really.

Of her husband's video role, she said: 'He's quite proud of that and at the end with the kids he scoops them up and that's there for posterity now, which is lovely.'

Speaking about military families that could not be together today, she added: 'It's hard enough on a normal day when you're trying to get through it, but when it is a really special day, it does really take a lot of effort on the wives' part.'

'We got together as a choir just to create a community and be there for each other and it's gone from strength to strength. It's just crazy.

'As for a follow-up I really don't know, there are talks of albums but I don't know how the logistics of that would work and whether Gareth would be involved or not. It is his baby at the end of the day.'

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