Nine members of an acclaimed boys’ choir delivered a moving mid-summer concert which brought tears to the eyes of staff and elderly residents at a care home.
The musical afternoon organised by The Aloud charity and Care Forum Wales was given a resounding verdict of ‘brilliant’ from residents of Pendine Park’s Gwern Alyn care home, who clapped and cheered emotionally as the hour-long concert came to a finale.
The award-winning charity runs 14 Only Boys Aloud choirs across Wales as well as the Only Kids Aloud initiative.
According to Sarah Edwards, Pendine Park’s artist in residence, Gwern Alyn Care Home was privileged to have been selected as one of just a few care homes selected across Wales to be involved in the project.
It was part of a summer collaboration – called Lovely Days – between Only Boys Aloud, Care Forum Wales and Arts and Business Cymru who provided funding via their CultureStep programme.
Sarah Edwards said: “Some of the lads from Wrexham’s Only Boys Aloud choir have come along to sing for residents and some relatives who have come along to enjoy the performance.
“They were absolutely brilliant and their performance brought tears to the eyes of the residents and members of staff.
“The project will culminate in a Lovely Day Out in August at Venue Cymru, Llandudno. Residents will be taken to Llandudno to enjoy a special day before enjoying a concert by several of the Only Boys Aloud choirs.
“It will be a major performance by the boys although a date hasn’t been finalised as yet. It’s clear though that our residents have really enjoyed listening to the boys sing and are excited about their planned Lovely Day Out.”
Aled Evans, of Ruthin, Only Boys Aloud team captain for Wrexham and Rhyl, explained the Lovely Day Out project came about after the success the choirs enjoyed singing in care homes around Wales last Christmas.
He said: “It’s amazing to see the impact music and singing has on some residents. I understand from speaking to staff that some residents, who have shown little response for a long while, react positively to the music and hearing the boys sing.
“The Lovely Day Out project is going around a number of selected North Wales care homes and residents will be invited to Llandudno in August.”
He added¨ “Our artistic director Tim Rhys-Evans will lead the boys in singing and entertaining those residents who attend. It is in the planning stage but it’s nice to bring some of the boys along so residents can see and hear what we are about.
“Performing in a care home is really intimate and we have felt really welcome here at Gwern Alyn. It’s been a really special evening.”
Rhys Archer, 18, of Connah’s Quay has been a member of the choir for three years and thoroughly enjoys it.
He said: “The choir is made up of boys aged 11 to 19 so I’m now in my final year. It’s lovely to see the reaction of residents and they obviously enjoy what we do.
“Singing on stage in a concert hall is nice but this is far more personal and intimate and I love seeing how residents react to a favourite song.”
Rhys, who will study music at Cardiff University from September, added: “I will miss being part of Only Boys Aloud. I’ve made a lot of friends and it’s taught me a lot. It will be nice to sign off by being part of the Lovely Day Out project.”
Ioan O’Neill, 16, of Wrexham, a pupil of Ysgol Morgan Llwyd, says he too wants to study music at university having been a choir member for three years.
He said: “I really enjoy it and I have loved coming to Gwern Alyn Care Home and seeing the reaction of residents. It’s been a very warm welcome and they have clearly enjoyed the songs we have performed.”
Peter Jones, who was visiting his mum, Anne Jones, 81, at Gwern Alyn, said: “It’s nice to see events like this being put on for residents, it’s something we should encourage more of in society.
“It’s lovely to see young lads interacting with older care home residents, it’s not something you see every day.”
New Gwern Alyn resident Patricia Pennack, 79, who has been there for little more than a week, she loved listening to the boys singing.
She said: “The boys were absolutely wonderful. It’s something I didn’t expect in a care home to be honest and it was really enjoyable.”