The story of Apollo II began way back in 2012. Peter Bryant, Jonny Beeden, Nick Bryant and Mark Smith got together in the Beeden lounge to prepare for the 2012 Quartet Prelims. This journey to contest would certainly be a memorable one; our unforgettable road trip to the 2012 LABBS Convention in Telford will certainly stay with us for a long time. A highlight of that weekend was befriending the multiple International Bronze Medal-winning quartet Metropolis, and wangling from them a free coaching session in which Peter came the closest he has ever been to being mistaken for a bass.

We entered the contest in Birmingham as planned, and fared... moderately poorly. We'd been gunning for the Youth Quartet Gold Medal, but were pipped to the title by far better quartets including Park Street and Tagline. I wonder if anything ever became of them.

As is to be expected with four teenagers, life changed very quickly and Apollo would never sing together again; at least in its original formation.

Fast-forward to 2019. Peter, Jonny, and Nick had decided to form a quartet with Joe Nelson, and were thinking about names. It took us far too long to realise that we were actually Apollo with a new member. Naturally, we wanted to follow in NASAs footsteps by assigning version numbers to our quartet, and so we finally landed on Apollo II. This would be a fateful decision, as it would lead us to discover the extent to which Roman numerals are not understood in the barbershop community.

With the name of our quartet dealt with, we felt we should get together to rehearse. This we did on three occasions before entering the 2019 BABS Youth Quartet contest. Like many long-distance quartets we wished we could have had more rehearsal time, but we miraculously pulled together our performance and beat the original Apollo's score by nearly 15 percentage points. More amazingly, this was enough to land us the Youth Quartet Gold Medals.

This was a genuine surprise - when we got the group together we didn't do so presuming any kind of contest success. We'd even agreed that this would be a one-off due to other commitments for everyone in the quartet. We are yet another accidental success story; another example proving that to succeed in quartet, the best place to start is with 4 mates and some cheap takeaway food.

Our championship is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, we have the luxury of enjoying it for two years instead of the usual one. Second, we are the last ever BABS Youth Champions in a male-only contest. It will be a moment of great pride for us to present the medals to the first BABS Youth Champions in a mixed contest, and we can’t wait to see how this contest will raise the bar in Youth barbershop, and bring more people into the world of barbershop. Until then, we’re sitting tight until we’re able to get together and ring some chords again.