March - June 2020Sandra Knight was appointed as the new Musical Director of the choir starting in March. She was appointed from several applicants and we are very lucky to have found a person with her qualities. She gave her first full rehearsal with the choir in preparation for a concert at the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea for the Young Singer Bursary Winners with West Glamorgan Youth Music. However, unprecedented events took over. Toward the end of March, the Coronavirus Pandemic came into being. As a result, "lockdown" throughout the UK was brought in by the government with self-isolation and gathering of people strictly banned. Government rules were to "Stay at home and Stay safe".
This had a profound effect on all choirs- unable to meet and rehearse! 2020 was to be a very busy year for the Gwalia Singers. All future concerts were cancelled. This included a retirement dinner in honour of former MD Nick Rogers, a combined concert with the Kronshagen Choir from Germany, a choir tour to Cornwall as well as singing at several weddings and at other events.
With the new MD eager to commence her appointment and no choir rehearsals, technology came to the forefront. Regular monthly newsletters from the Chairman, Clive Walters and the Music Team were forwarded to choristers along with new pieces of music to add to the choir's repertoire. This was important so that sectional parts could be learnt in readiness for when rehearsals could resume. (Also to keep everyone busy during lockdown). Zoom has come to our aid – we had a committee meeting, a social gathering and a quiz, thank you Gareth John for being our Quiz Master. Sandra also met with the four sections of the choir over a period of weeks via "Zoom". A new chapter had begun.......
Dr Carl Sullivan, who sings with the second tenors and a former committee member, is leaving the choir. He was a doctor at Morriston hospital and is now taking up a promotional position in Sheffield. He leaves with our thanks and good wishes.
Unfortunately, a very loyal and participative member of the Gwalia Singers – Edwin [Ed] Parton passed away on 20th March this year. He had been unwell for some time with lung cancer and was having regular treatment in hospital where he contracted the coronavirus.
He was a very much loved and intelligent member of the choir which he joined in May 2008. His potential was soon recognised when he was elected to the committee at the AGM in 2011. In the same year he took on the role of Patron’s Secretary, communicating regularly with all those many individuals who support the choir. In 2013 the choir Chairman at the time – Clive Walters, invited him to be Vice Chairman which he gladly accepted and was elected Chairman in 2015. He added a special mature and hard-working dimension to this role which he held for the normal two years. On completion of his chairmanship he continued to serve as an experienced committee member.
He will be greatly missed by all the choir, especially the second tenors and certainly by the many golfers who played with him. Our deepest sympathies are with his wife Janet.
February 2020Our first performance of the year was at the Three Lamps, on Saturday 22nd, to provide entertainment for the Wales v France rugby match. We sang for about half an hour before the game and managed to squeeze in a few items at half time. After the game we moved around the various floors singing a few songs to each group of people, including a hen party on the top floor! The response we get from these is amazing and most of the partygoers are youngsters who would probably never hear a male voice choir singing.
On Saturday 29th we were back at All Saints, Oystermouth for a fundraising concert for the choir and a local charity ‘Therapy for Swansea Kids’. The concert entitled ‘March into March’ feature d the choir and the newly formed ‘Rock Choir’, which comprises members of choirs from Swansea, Mumbles, Neath, Carmarthen and Llanelli. The concert started with Roger Gadd presenting a cheque of £2000.00 to the charity which has established a Therapy Centre at Hill House and is entirely run by volunteer parents, therapists and friends. We opened the concert with ‘Cwm Rhondda’, with Steve joining Rhian on the organ, and also performed ‘Pacem’. This is relatively new to our repertoire and is accompanied by Rhian and Gareth Widlake on viola. During this set Nick presented our service ties to Geoff Jones, for completing five years, and Adrian Crowley and Anthony Marmont for ten years. There was also a tie for our youngest member who was actually celebrating his 18th birthday! Mike Phippen received his tie for five years’ service and we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him. We finished our first set with ‘The Impossible Dream’. The Rock Choir then sang and started with ‘Since You’ve been Gone’ and included ‘Super Trouper’ and ‘Don’t Stop me Now’ in their first set. The first half finished with a terrific solo by Lee Ellery who is the ‘Special Ambassador’ for the charity. He sang ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ from ‘Les Miserables’ and received a deserved standing ovation at the end. The Rock Choir started the second half with Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ followed by ‘Only You’. Their performance is always very lively and are well directed by Dan Rogers, who’s enthusiasm is affectious. They finished their second set with ‘Shut Up and Dance with Me’. We finished the concert with our second set, and we started with our ‘Abba Medley’. It was great to see our previous MD, Simon Oram, in the audience, who arranged this medley for the choir. We sang a number of our favourites and finished with ‘An American Trilogy’ to a standing ovation from the packed audience. This was possibly Nick’s last concert and it was a fitting end to all his hard work over the past 13 years. Special thanks must go to the sponsors of the concert Swansea Building Society, Liberty Homes, Designer Outdoor Lighting, RDM Electrical and Mechanical Services, and Morganstone. Also, to our Ladies Committee who looked after ‘front of house’ and CD sales. Lastly to our fundraising committee who put the concert together. Following the concert, we all adjourned to the West Cross Inn, arranged by Meirion Howells, and they provided a lovely buffet for us.
Nick Rogers, our outstanding MD for the past 14 years, had announced that he would be standing down after the concert at the end of February. Nick is staying with the choir and has joined the second bass section.
January 2020We had a quiet January, with regard to concerts. We were sorry to hear the sad news that Alan Short had lost his battle with a short-term illness and had passed away. Alan was a keen sportsman and a very good 2nd tenor and had been with us for nine years. He leaves his wife Eileen, children and grandchildren and will be sadly missed by the choir and his family. It was great to sing at his funeral at Swansea Crematorium.
December 2019Once again, we had a very busy Christmas period. On December 7th we performed a concert at All Saints, Oystermouth for the ‘Maggies’ cancer charity. This is fast becoming an annual event and we were joined by the Thomas Coaches Mid-Rhondda Brass Band. The church was packed, and the first half was made up of both the choir and band performing items from their normal repertoires and ended with the two joining together for ‘Morte Criste’. The second half started with everyone joining in with ’O Come All Ye Faithful’ and the band played ‘Christmas Festival’. There was a wonderful atmosphere in the church and the band ended with an audience participation piece ‘Christmas Swingalong’. Band director Alan Gibbs had his work cut out to get different areas of the audience to sway to a ‘round’, in time with the band, to great hilarity. The band were once again wonderful and fully contributed to a great night. We then finished the evening with our Christmas items which included many of our popular items such as ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’, ‘Stop the Cavalry’ and ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’. Dr Pat Steane thanked the choir and band for the entertainment and announced that they had already raised £2500 for the charity from the concert.
The next Tuesday we sang at the Scout Hut, Brynmill, which is a concert organised by the Ladies Committee. Again, this is an annual event and the ladies very kindly provide a buffet and raised money for a local charity. The Ladies committee work very hard for the choir and their Chairperson, Linda Lewis, deserves so much credit for organising this event, and others, during the year. Two days later we sang at the Pier Café, Mumbles, again, raising money for charity. This also seems to be an annual event and the café provides a lovely atmosphere.
On Saturday 14th we sang at St Hillary’s church, Killay. This is a new event for us, and the church was holding a ‘Christmas Tree Festival’. There were many trees around the church, but we did manage to squeeze into the small area in the nave and the on the chancel steps. The concert was introduced by Rev Phillip Gwynn and, again, we did a mix of our normal repertoire and Christmas items.
Our last concert was at St Stephen’s church, Port Tennant. This has also become an annual event but was moved from the main St Thomas church due to ongoing alterations and renovations. Once again, the three local school choirs took part, St Thomas Community School, Danygraig Junior School and Cefn Hengoed School. Each choir was introduced by their headmasters and, as usual, were absolutely fantastic. We finished off the evening with everyone joining in with ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’. Thanks go to Rev Steve Bunting for running the event and, hopefully, next year we may be back at St Thomas’ if the work has been completed.
After a busy few weeks we had a relaxing afternoon and evening at the Queen’s on Thursday 19th. A good number of members turned up and we had a good old sing-song which the locals really enjoyed. A great end to a busy December!
November 2019We have rehearsed well for our forthcoming Christmas concerts, although not introducing any new items this year. We have also had two new members in Richard Jones and Peter Cooke who have passed their audition. Both have joined the 2nd tenor section and we hope that they will enjoy their stay with us.
However, the biggest news was that Nick has decided to retire/step down as Musical Director with the effect from March 2020. He has been ‘in charge’ since November 2006 and has overseen a huge change in the choir, as can be seen from this website. He has also maintained the style of the Gwalia Singers in arranging many modern songs and some old favourites. Applications are now being received from potential replacements and, hopefully, we will be able to announce a replacement over the next few months. More news on this to follow.
October 2019On Saturday 12th October we went on our travels to Llandrindod Wells to sing in Holy Trinity Church. We supported a local charity ‘AGLMUK’ which partners a school and church in Uganda, to enhance the lives of children and young people from poor backgrounds. We were joined by Mike and Chris Clarke, who sang a number of ‘songs from the shows’ and Ann Smith and Jan Swindale performed the monologue ‘Albert and the Lion’. The church was full, and we received a standing ovation after singing our last item. We helped raise over £1200 for the charity and, of course, we gave our services free of charge. Following the concert, we went to the Commodore Hotel where we stayed for the night. A large buffet was provided, and we had a great afterglow which went on until the early hours. There were a group of young men from the South of England staying at the hotel who had intended having an early night, but instead, they joined in with us and many said that it was the best night that they had ever had!!
On Saturday 7th September we sang at a dinner of the Boy’s Brigade of UK and ROI at the Marriott Hotel, Swansea. The Boy’s Brigade were holding their Annual Conference in Swansea and they had organised a number of events over the weekend. We sang our usual varied repertoire and were thanked at the end by the President of the Brigade, Lord Griffiths of Burry Port. He said that they had all enjoyed our singing and revealed that he was a founder member of the Burry Port Male Voice Choir and felt that he had ‘come home’! He was a bottom bass and the first piece he remembers singing was ‘Morte Criste’ and, as we were asked for an encore, Nick duly sang this and asked ‘Les’ to join in with our basses, which he really enjoyed. Thanks also to Rev Steven Bunting for asking us to sing at the event.
We had St Stythians Male Voice Choir, from Cornwall, as our guests at our first Patrons’ Concert held at St Mary’s Church, Swansea on Saturday 28th. The choir was founded in 1947 and their MD was Ken Downing, who has been directing the choir for 33 years! They opened the concert with ‘Let There Be Light’ arranged by Cornishman, Goff Richards, and sung a varied repertoire throughout including the lively ‘Georgy Girl’, a ‘Cole Porter’ medley and ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables. They concluded their singing with the rousing ‘We Rise Again’. We sang items from our usual repertoire but included ‘Pacem’ for the first time. This is a beautiful piece sung to the Latin text ‘Donna nobis pacem’, and has been composed by an American, Lee Dengler. It also features an additional string accompaniment and we are lucky to have Gareth Widlake in our baritones, who played the viola, with Rhian. This really adds an extra texture and we gave a great performance. We have also added Mark Hayes’ arrangement of ‘The Impossible Dream’, which is a great sing with a number of key changes throughout. This was the last piece we sang on our own and the choirs then joined forces to sing ‘Morte Criste’ and ‘An American Trilogy’, which featured Steve on the organ, resulting in a standing ovation. Considering the atrocious weather outside the church was almost full and the appreciative audience were treated to a fine concert. During the concert we presented some service ties. Rob Smith was presented with his 5 year tie and Haydn Lewis with his 10 year tie. The last presentation went to our hard-working secretary Alan Clewett, who has been in the choir for 25 years. We battled through the wind and rain to the Railwaymen’s Club in Wind Street following the concert and we were treated to a wonderful buffet provided by the choir.
August 2019We sang at the wedding of Steven Geaney and Danielle Malson on 17th at Oldwalls, Llanrhidian. It was a warm day and we had to gather in a portioned off, dark area of the reception room as, unknown to us, we were there as a surprise to the groom! It was a bit claustrophobic, but the secret was achieved.
July 2019Following our adventure to Barbados we had a quiet few weeks before singing at Dobbies (formerly Wyevale) on the Swansea Enterprise Park on Saturday 13th. This was a short recital in the afternoon, as a ‘thank you’ for allowing us to advertise and sell raffle tickets for our fundraising concert earlier in the year. We had a good turnout and a small, but appreciative audience, gathered to hear our singing.
On Saturday July 20th we sang at the Memorial Hall in Penllergaer for the 50th wedding anniversary of Ian and Diane Smith. Diane is the sister of our baritone, John Davies, and is a great supporter of the choir, having travelled with us to Barbados, in May. Ian was also there but suffered quite severe burns to his foot, much to the amusement of many of the choir! He has now recovered. It was a lovely evening and was enjoyed by all.
Barbados Celtic Festival 2019
Well. What can we say?! This was the biggest and, surely, the most exciting venture that the choir has ever undertaken. The Festival has been running for nineteen years and has not had a male voice choir since the very first event. We took 42 choristers, which was an amazing achievement, and the party totalled more than 70 altogether with wives, partners and friends. This was originally put to the choir over twelve months previously and the dedication and financial commitment by the choristers, committee, and musical team, was outstanding.
We left Swansea at 4.00am on Monday 20th and travelled to Gatwick for our flight to Grantley Adams Airport where we were met by Carol Anderson, the festival organiser. When we arrived, we had a quick change and went to the opening party at the hotel, The Coconut Court Beach, where we received some free cocktails and were entertained by a local band. The following day was spent acclimatising and enjoying the lovely weather. In the evening we were invited across the road to ‘Jake’s’, where we met the Minister of Culture and the Creative Economy for Barbados, Mr John King. We were entertained by ‘Riddell Fiddles’, from Selkirk, and lead by Sheila Sapkota, who were also taking part in the festival, and there were more free drinks on offer.
On Wednesday we had our first concert at St Patrick’s Cathedral, and met up with Sister Pauline, who was the head of St Patrick’s Junior School. Sister Pauline was also from Scotland and had been playing guitar with Riddell Fiddles, the night before. The concert was scheduled to start at 1.00pm, and this was the first time that we realised that Bajan time was fairly relaxed, as the buses to take us to the concert didn’t turn up until 12.45pm…and then there were not enough seats for everyone, so they had to make 2 journeys!! The concert eventually got underway at 1.15pm. However, it was a lovely event where the local school choir sang ‘Loch Lomond’, in a wonderful Scottish accent, accompanied by Sister Pauline and they also did a few dances. They then sang ‘Beautiful, Beautiful, Barbados’, which we had learnt and were able to join in with them. We then sang three items, but, because all the windows and doors were open and a breeze was going through the cathedral, the acoustic was lost. Rhian and Nick also had problems with their music being blown around! The concert finished with the combined pipers from the Reading Scottish Pipe Band and the Strathallan School Pipe Band, under their Musical Director, Craig Muirhead. What a wonderful sound! The rest of the day we had to ourselves, so it was back to the beach for more sun.
On Thursday we all made our own arrangements. Some of the party went on the ‘Cool Runnings’ Catamaran and had a wonderful day swimming with turtles and taking in the lovely coastline of West Barbados. They stopped outside the Sandy Lanes Resort, where all the celebrities go, and had lunch on the boat, followed by more swimming. Another small group went on a trip around the island provided by ‘Dale’, a local driver, and organised by Pete Beales. This was quite an experience where Dale took them around several Rum Shacks, and they met with Nigel Benn’s auntie! They also visited the oldest church on the island and saw where Rihanna was brought up - and visited more Rum Shacks! Others just stayed by the pool and beach and soaked up the sun.
Our main concert of the tour was held on Friday evening. It was at the Walled Garden Theatre, which is a relatively new venue. We had a sound check rehearsal at 4.00pm and everything was fine, except that there was no staging for the choir to sing on. The event was organised by the Rotary Club of Barbados South and started at ‘about’ 7.00pm. The concert was opened by Donny Hughes, a well-known Scottish DJ and we sang our normal items and included ‘Yellow Bird’ which we had learnt for the tour. The concert also featured ‘Sing Out Barbados’, under their director, Keith Squires. They were beautifully dressed in colourful costumes and sung a variety of Caribbean songs, many being acted out and very funny. They finished with ‘Beautiful, Beautiful, Barbados’, a song which was far more popular than we thought, when we learnt it. We were going to sing it as our penultimate item in this concert, so Nick made a bit of a joke about the fact that we had learnt this song, had been beaten to sing it, twice, already, and had travelled 4,000 miles!! We were not going to leave without singing our version - so we did, and the audience loved it. We ended with ‘An American Trilogy’ and received a standing ovation from the large audience. Attending the concert was the British High Commissioner to Barbados, Ms Janet Douglas, CMG who enjoyed it very much.
For our last official concert, we travelled to St Thomas Church, in the district of St Thomas, which was about 30 minutes away. We were informed that the concert was to start at 6.00pm, but, again, we were in Bajan time and we did not leave the hotel until 5.30pm! However, when we turned up at the church there were only a few cars in the car park, and we were informed that the concert did not start until 6.30pm! We had a few problems when we arrived, as the keyboard did not have a sustain pedal with it, and again, no staging. A pedal was located and brought to the church, and at first did not work, but eventually this was rectified. Singing with us were three combined church choirs who opened the concert. We started with ‘Cwm Rhondda’ and blew the audience away with our ‘Amens’, with the boys, Rhian, and Steve, on their church organ, making a fine sound! Quite a few of the church choir’s members were singing along with us as well. This was a lovely, intimate evening with the locals lapping up the unique sound of a Welsh Male Voice Choir, and the boys were on fine form. Rhian had further problems with the keyboard later on, when it suddenly went ‘honky tonk’ halfway through one of our items!
We had some more leisure time on Sunday to soak up the sun (boring – isn’t it!) and in the afternoon we had the final party at the hotel. Carol Anderson and Donny Hughes kept things under control and a few presentations were made to the pipe band MD Craig Muirhead and to our MD Nick. We gave a few more renditions and the pipers also played. Further entertainment was provided by Riddell Fiddles and we lined up around the pool to sing ‘Three Little Birds’ accompanied by them. We then went down to the beach for a final ‘photoshoot’ and sung ‘Beautiful, Beautiful, Barbados’ accompanied by our own ukulele band! (See the Youtube clip) We finished with our own National Anthem. This just about brought our trip to an end, as the next day saw our party break up, because about half were going home and the rest staying for another week.
We spent the morning around the pool on the last day and the ones that were leaving were waived off and went to the airport. What happened next was a flash of inspiration! In the corner of the departure lounge was a piano and, after a few rums, Nick thought it would be a good idea to attempt a ‘flash mob’. Not everyone was keen at first, but we did it and immediately people were recording it on their phones. Of course, we sang ‘Beautiful Barbados’, with Rhian on the piano and the locals loved it. Before we knew it, someone had put it on Facebook and, after a week, it had 30k views!! (See the Facebook clip) It has also appeared on many other Facebook sites, including the main ‘Visit Barbados’ page. A great end to a fabulous week.
For those who stayed a second week, the highlight must be a visit to the hotel by Sir Garfield Sobers, a true legend of West Indies cricket. He is, of course, synonymous with Swansea, where he hit six sixes off one over, by the luckless Malcolm Nash, at St Helens. He was a real gent and spoke with the boys for many hours and even joined in the singing.
The Celtic Festival, Barbados will be remembered for a long time to come and we must thank Carol Anderson for inviting us and looking after us while we were there. There are so many other people to thank for organising this trip. Our hard-working chairman Mike Phippen, who was not able to come, but turned up at 3.30am on the morning we left, to see us off, and secretary Alan, who liaised with the travel company to get us all there. Our treasurer Lawrence, who has handled an incredible amount of money. Our new fundraising committee and established Ladies committee who raised a substantial amount for the trip. Our sponsors Swansea Building Society and Red Dragon Flagmakers, Clydach who loaned us the Welsh flag. The choristers’ wives and partners and the choristers themselves for making it such a success. Finally, to Nick, Rhian and Steve for their commitment and enthusiasm to get the choir ready for such occasions. The choir has come so far over the last ten years or so and a trip of this magnitude was out of the question back then. Where many other choirs are struggling, we keep on striving to attract new members and will try to arrange more exciting trips in the future.
April 2019Following our concert at St Mary’s we have had another new member. Rhodri Jenkins enjoyed the evening and came along to the next rehearsal and has joined the baritone section. Well done Rhodri.
March 2019On Saturday 2nd we gave a concert to raise funds for our forthcoming trip to Barbados. We held it in St Mary’s Church and our guests were the Thomas Coaches Mid-Rhondda Brass Band and The Eclectics, from Swansea. The evening was brilliantly compered by Paul Tabram, who is often heard at the Liberty Stadium making the announcements at all Ospreys Rugby matches and sometimes with the ‘Swans’. We opened with ’O Gymru’ and sung some further items in Welsh, that we have rehearsed for Barbados. We finished our set with ‘How Great Thou Art’. The Eclectics sang next, and, as their title suggests, they sang a great mix of items including ‘Set Me as a Seal’ and ‘Calon Lan’. They were a small group of just seven singers but the lovely acoustic at St Mary’s suited them well. The brass band finished the first half and played a medley from ‘Oklahoma’ and ended the first half with Tom Davoren’s ‘Pure of Heart’. They were excellent.
The band opened the second half with Gordon Langford’s arrangement of ‘Men Of Harlech’ and their next item featured Bass soloist Jeff Taylor in ‘Bass in the Ballroom’. They completed their set with ‘Sospan Fach’. The Eclectics sang next and sung five items including ‘Danny Boy’, ‘Si Hei Lwli ‘Mabi’ and finished with the energetic ‘I Got Rhythm’, to a great ovation. In our last set we sang ‘Delilah’ and Chicago’s ‘Hard To Say I’m Sorry’ and finished with our ‘Abba’ medley, which we have brought back after many years. The concert ended with a joint item, ‘Morte Criste’, played by the band and joined by the choir.
This was a terrific evening well organised by our chairman, Mike Phippen and our fundraising committee. We had a full church and thanks must go to our Ladies Committee who looked after ticket and CD sales at the church. Thanks also to St Mary’s church and especially Alan Jenkins, who is so amenable to our requirements and to Swansea Building Society for their generous sponsorship. Finally, to our music team of Nick, Rhian and Steve who ensured that our performance was to its usual high standard.
Following the concert, we all went to the Three Lamps for refreshments and we are pleased to announce that the Thomas Coaches Mid Rhondda Brass Band will be joining us again for a Christmas concert later in the year.
Saturday 16th saw us return to the Three Lamps to sing at the final match of the Six Nations, with Wales going for the Grand Slam, against much fancied Ireland. Again, we sang before and during the match and, once again, the pub was full. The whole place erupted at the final whistle, with Wales victorious by 25-7, far more comfortable than many imagined. Once more, we went to the second floor to carry on with the singing after the match. This has been a new venture for us, and we know that the owner, Tim Evans, is keen to have us back to sing at further events.
We are pleased to welcome another recruit to our ranks. Paul Hutin has joined the second tenors where his uncle Ken once sang. Ken was a terrific member of the choir and we hope that Paul will be just as enthusiastic too.
February 2019We welcomed Peter Beales to the choir, following his audition, and he has joined the second tenors. Peter was at the Queens the previous month and enjoyed the afternoon so much that he decided he would give it a go! Well done SPeter and we hope you have a long stay with us.
On Saturday 23rd we entertained at the Three Lamps before, and during, the Wales v England rugby international. Following a new renovation, the pub now has four floors, with its own brewery on one floor. It was great to see it full and there was a terrific atmosphere, especially when Josh Adams went over in the corner, for Wales, to seal victory 21-13. After the match we went to the next floor to carry on the singing, as there were various birthday parties and other celebrations going on.
January 2019We had a quiet start to the year, but a good number of the choir enjoyed a get together at the Queens on Thursday 3rd. This has become an annual event and we were well looked after by the staff at the pub. We started at 3.00 o’clock in the afternoon and carried on during the early evening adjourning to the Three Lamps, where we had been booked to sing at some forthcoming Wales Rugby International matches over the coming months.
Rehearsals commenced on Tuesday 8th and we were pleased to see that we had attracted a potential new member following our afternoon in the Queens. We also started rehearsing some new items for our forthcoming trip to Barbados and, in fact, is was good to have a quiet period so that we could concentrate on this huge undertaking.
On a sad note, Roger Burrell passed away following a long illness. Roger had been present at rehearsals up to his death and will be sadly missed by his family and the choir.
December 2018We had a very busy Christmas, as usual, and our first concert was at All Saints, Oystermouth, in aid of ‘Maggies’, a cancer charity. The church was full and the choir was directed by Gareth Widlake, who is one of our baritones. Although he has only been in the choir for a year, Gareth was formerly headmaster at Bishopston Primary School and, as he says, he is used to dealing with children, and this is no different!! The choir sung brilliantly and we were also fortunate to have Steve playing his keyboard accompaniments to various items as well. The soloist was Anwen Pike. We have been informed that £2500 was raised for the charity and, again, our services were completely free.
Our next concerts were the same as last year, also, with the first being at the Scout Hall, Brynmill. This is organised by our Ladies Committee and a great buffet was provided by them. Their Chairperson, Linda, gave presentations to the musical team and also a cheque for £2000.00 for our forthcoming trip to Barbados, which was absolutely fantastic and very gratefully received. The choir is going from strength to strength; when other choirs are dwindling in numbers, and we staged our biggest ever choir with 61 singers on stage. We had 8 new members during the year and it is all to do with the work of the choristers encouraging people to join. The evening also raised over £500 for Diabetes UK, which is the charity chosen by Nick, in memory of Debbie.
On Thursday 13th, we sang at the Vivian Hall, Blackpill, and again the hall was full and a great atmosphere created. However, it is getting a bit of a squeeze in the hall for the choir with our growing numbers! The highlight for the audience, as ever, was the communal singing of ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ and we also sang ‘One More Mile To Go’, by Chris DeBurgh, again this year among our Christmas items.
We sang at the Christmas Community Concert at St Thomas church on December 18th. This is definitely the highlight of our Christmas programme with the old church absolutely packed. There was a tremendous atmosphere with choirs from Danygraig Primary School, St Thomas Community Primary School, and Cefn Hengoed Community School all taking part. All the choirs sang a number of Christmas items and we finished the concert with ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’ which brought the audience to its feet. All the choirs then joined to sing ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’. This was the last event in the church, as it is, because work is starting on making the church into two floors with a community hall on the ground floor and a church upstairs. We wish the vicar, Steve Bunting, and everyone much success with this project.
Our last concert was held at the Pier Cafe on Thursday 20th. This is the 3rd year we have sung at this event and, again, it was a great success, although ticket numbers are now being monitored carefully. However, there was still a lovely atmosphere in the Cafe and evening was introduced by Siany Martin, from ‘The Wave’ radio station.
Once again we had a busy Christmas and all the effort to learn a good number of Christmas items was well worth it. We also had over 50 singers at every event, which was a terrific achievement.
Our first concert following our tour to Kiel was held at Clyne Golf Club on November 12th. The club was packed and we had a lovely evening. The concert was in aid of ‘Save the Children’ and we raised £1100 for the charity. Of course, we gave our services free of charge so every penny went to the charity. The evening was organised by Joan Jory and her husband, Jeff, introduced the concert. Jeff was a former member of the choir and it was great to see him there.
We sang at the wedding of Amy Staddon and Liam Jenkins on Saturday 17th November. It took place at St Thomas church and Amy is the daughter of our second tenor, Gareth.
We were pleased to welcome 3 new members to the choir and we are really lucky because all 3 are experienced choristers. Vernon Ward has moved to the area from Cheshire and has joined the second tenors and Brian Brent and Brian Miles have joined the first tenor section. We hope they all have a long association with us.
We were sad to learn of the passing of Emil Jones, a wonderful top tenor, who had been with the choir for over 20 years. He will be greatly missed by all his family and friends and we sung at his funeral at Llanelli Crematorium.
We also had the dreadful news that Debbie, our MD Nick’s wife, passed away following a short illness. Debbie was a great support to Nick and knew all about his passion for the male choir institution, having known him for nearly 40 years. She was a regular on the choir tours and had a great friendship with Rhian and many of the wives and partners. She will be greatly missed and our heartfelt sympathies are with Nick.