One of Wales’s finest male voice choirs is celebrating its 50th anniversary in style – with the help of a care organisation.
Côr Meibion Caernarfon’s special golden jubilee concert at Galeri on Friday, July 14, is being sponsored by Pendine Park who run the Bryn Seiont Newydd dementia centre on the outskirts of the town.
They are funding an anniversary brochure and an exhibition showcasing the choir’s rich history at the same venue in November.
Over the years, the choir has performed in the best concert halls in Britain, including the Royal Albert Hall in London, Birmingham Symphony Hall and St David’s Hall in Cardiff.
They are proud to have won first prize at the National Eisteddfod of Wales a total of nine times and their patron is opera superstar Sir Bryn Terfel.
As part of the £1,800 sponsorship deal with Pendine Park, choir members visited Bryn Seiont Newydd and performed the first of a planned three concerts for care home residents, relatives and staff.
Among those taking part was retired local government officer Basil Thomas, 76, of Bontnewydd, who went to the choir’s very first rehearsal 50 years ago and has been a choir member ever since.
He recalled: “I attended the first practice and got married three weeks later. I never told my wife I’d joined the choir or that she wouldn’t be seeing me on Tuesday evenings for the next 50 years or so!
“I have always loved being in the choir. The sponsorship from Pendine Park is amazing and we are really very grateful for their support.
“It’s going to help us produce our brochure and put on our exhibition which is very important to us.
“We need support as it’s a very expensive business running a choir. If we have a concert in Manchester, for example, we need to hire a coach and that isn’t cheap.
“I’d like to see younger men joining the choir, we have had some recently join but we would like to see more.”
The choir’s publicity officer, John Roberts, 70, said: “Residents were so engrossed and many were conducting with their hands and joining in with the songs. They clearly haven’t forgotten the words.
“The sponsorship deal we have with Pendine Park is for a specific purpose. We will now be able to produce a glossy brochure telling something of the choir’s history which will be published in time for our celebration anniversary concert in July.
“And Pendine Park pointed us in the direction of Arts and Business Cymru which has resulted in a further £650 being made available to us. That will ensure we will be able to put on our exhibition for a week at Galeri in November.”
John, of Llanrug, a retired translator, added: “This sponsorship is a lovely example of how Pendine Park supports the arts and local groups such as Côr Meibion Caernarfon.
“As part of the sponsorship deal we have agreed to come here at least three times to perform for residents. We have certainly enjoyed this first concert.”
Pendine Park spokesman Gwynfor Jones, says proprietors Mario and Gill Kreft are committed to supporting the arts whenever they can.
He said: “The arts are a source of enriching lives for others, particularly those with disabilities and those who suffer social isolation.
“This is promoted through the wider staff network as part of the Pendine philosophy of social responsibility.
We were very keen to get involved with Côr Meibion Caernarfon and to support them as they celebrate their 50th anniversary. We also signposted them towards Arts and Business Cymru which, I’m pleased to say, has resulted in further sponsorship.
“We enjoy welcoming choirs such as Côr Meibion Caernarfon to Bryn Seiont Newydd. Residents thrive on concerts such as this and it’s lovely to see so many relatives enjoying the concert too.”
June Krasnowski, of Anglesey, attended the concert at Bryn Seiont Newydd where her husband, Leon, is a resident.
She said: “Leon has been a resident at Bryn Seiont Newydd since it opened in November 2015. I visit every day.
“Leon and I have been married for 48 years. He is now deep into his dementia. He also suffers from Parkinson’s and I worry if I don’t visit daily he will forget me.
“Days such as this, where we can enjoy the choir’s concert together, are so special for me. It gives Leon, and the other residents, something to focus on and something we can enjoy together.
“Concerts and music enhances the lives of residents who have dementia and associated problems. It’s just so important.”
Choir chairman Bryn Griffith, from Llanllyfni, said: “The choir was formed in the canteen of the Ferodo factory on the banks of the Menai Strait on November 5, 1967. The factory has closed but we are still here.
“Over the years we’ve had nine conductors and six accompanists. Three of the original members are still in our ranks.”