The internationally famous choir Only Boys Aloud sang their hearts out for residents of a Wrexham care home.
The Wrexham branch of the choir delighted residents, their families and staff at the town’s Hillbury House Care Home with rousing renditions of Christmas carols and traditional songs performed in Welsh and English.
Their visit came about because of the Home for Christmas project devised by Only Boys Aloud founder Tim Rhys-Evans MBE, who led them to national fame when they reached the final three in Britain’s Got Talent in 2012.
In conjunction with Care Forum Wales, they have been staging their rehearsals in the care homes with residents and staff for several weeks leading up to a seasonal concert. The project was launched at the Wales Care Awards in Cardiff.
From Silent Night to White Christmas, a bilingual Oh Come All ye Faithful, and the choir’s moving original composition Try Again, there was a festive spirit throughout the night.
Pendine Park Artist-in-Residence Sarah Edwards said: “This is the first time this famed choir have performed a Christmas concert for us and it has been the talk of our residents for weeks. Everyone was very excited and really looking forward to it.”
Lynne Williams who works at neighbouring Gwern Alyn care home – the very first premises established by Pendine Park in Wrexham – said: “I was lucky enough to be here when the rehearsals were on and it was jam packed. Everyone was loving it.”
Lynne, who donned an elf’s hat especially for the occasion, and fellow Gwern Alyn staff, Yvonne Moran and Angela Davies, escorted five of their residents over to Hillbury House for the event.
Others who enjoyed the music resounding around Hillbury’s main hall included residents elderly Heather Davies and Olga Ord.
Olga said the concert reminded her of times when she used to sing with Ruabon WI choir in her younger years. The 85 year old has a grown up son, Ian, and daughter, Linda, who was also there to enjoy the singing.
Linda said: “It’s a wonderful idea and really helps get mum and her friends into a festive mood in the run up to Christmas. It’s great that residents’ loved ones are invited along too.”
Former steelworker Frank Randles, 89, joked that he would be ‘taking notes’ on the performance to compare with his own days as a former choir member of Rosset Church where he enjoyed singing hymns. Frank’s wife, Ruth, of Gresford, who visited the home to be by Frank’s side for the evening, added that the concert was a ‘fantastic idea.’
Wendy Ivison is among Hillbury’s newest residents and enjoyed the sing-a-long. Her daughter, Meryl, said: “Mum has only been at Hillbury for four months so it’s still a very new environment for her at the moment, but events like this are a lovely way to help her settle in and really get to know more of her fellow residents.”
The choir was led by Only Boys Aloud Wrexham team leaders Nia Wyn Jones and Aled Evans, who said the boys were hugely honoured to be given the chance to entertain residents.
Nia, who conducted, said: “I was so pleased when I looked round to be able to see so many faces smiling, and to hear the residents joining in some of the songs with us. There’s a few beautiful voices among them.”
Hillbury manager Cindy Clutton said: “It’s an important part of the Pendine Park ethos that we use the arts to enrich the lives of people across the generations. Our enrichment programme involves art in all its forms including music, poetry, storytelling and painting.
“The arts are embedded in all our staff training programmes to ensure that enrichment is a part of daily life for everybody here.
“We’re delighted to have had such a talented choir as Only Boys Aloud to perform two Christmas concerts for us at the home. It was a truly magical occasion.”
The Only Boys Aloud organisation became world renowned after appearing on television’s Britain’s Got Talent 2012 in which they finished third.
It was founded by artistic director Tim Rhys-Evans and now encompasses more than 200 boys aged from 13-19 in 14 choirs across Wales. The Wrexham branch rehearses at the Bamford Suite, Wrexham Racecourse Stadium, on Tuesdays from 6.30-8.30pm. Its next term starts on January 16, 2018. For more information visit: http://www.aloud.cymru