Heart-throb singer Joe Woolford performed live for housing association tenants to thank them for their support during his exciting run in a top TV talent show.
Joe Woolford, who made a huge impact on the prime time BBC One show, The Voice, belted out a handful of stunning numbers to thrill the crowds when he headlined at Cartrefi Conwy’s Big Day Out.
The event saw over 700 of Cartrefi’s tenants from across the county enjoying an afternoon of top-class entertainment at the Eirias Park complex in Colwyn Bay.
Joe, 20, was delighted to be singing at the event as a way of saying thank you for the way so many fans from the area backed him during his epic journey through The Voice earlier this year.
An overwhelming public vote from the people of his native North Wales carried him all the way through to the semi-finals of the competition.
“So many people from this area gave me their support in The Voice that I was determined to be here today to give them something back by singing for them,” he said.
“One of the numbers I performed was Jealous by Labrinth which I sang in the semi-finals and I hope meant as much to them as it does to me.”
Joe also revealed that one of his most high-profile gigs since The Voice ended in April had been in support of the appeal set up in memory of Elen Meirion, the popular teacher whose tragic death in 2012 at the age of just 43 sparked a nationwide campaign to promote organ donation in Wales and who was his primary school teacher back home in Ruthin.
Elen’s Fund is spearheaded by her brother, top tenor Rhys Meirion, and has so far raised thousands of pounds in her name.
“Quite recently I sang in the Cerddwn Ymlaen, or Moving Forward, concert with Rhys Meirion which was shown on S4C and raised quite a bit of money for Elen’s Fund,” said Joe.
“I knew Elen very well as she was my primary school teacher at Ysgol Pen Barras in Ruthin.
“She was a lovely lady and it was so horrible to hear about her death.
“She played a big role in my life and inspired me by telling me when I was very young that she knew I could sing, which meant the world to me.”
At the end of Joe’s performance, Cartrefi Conwy’s Chief Executive, Andrew Bowden, stepped on stage to present him with a £250 cheque for Elen’s Fund.
Other highlights included displays of wrestling, street dance, inflatables, face painting, stilt walkers, balloon modelling, fire juggling and a cheeky clown named Harley.
Inside The Barn at Eirias Park there were even more activities to choose from such as competitions for iPads and shopping vouchers, more inflatables, arts and crafts and badge making.
Other indoor highlights of the day were bingo and armchair aerobic sessions.
Stands gave out a wealth of advice and guidance on everything from benefits and further education opportunities to credit unions and volunteering in the community.
Teams from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board were on hand to provide help and advice about their services.
A novel feature was a display entitled How to Stay Safe in Your Home, which saw experts from Cartrefi Conwy providing advice on health and safety with the aid of a mock-up kitchen featuring a cooker, microwave and ironing board.
Among those who played a flying visit to the event was Angel, the European Eagle Owl.
She was there with Kevin Bunn a director of Prestatyn-based Lord of the Wings, a community interest company housing a collection of birds.
Angel’s presence caused quite a flutter and children took the chance to view Angel at close quarters under Kevin’s expert guidance.
Particularly impressed with Angel were seven-year-olds Summer Lloyd-Davies and her friend Shay Williams from the Peulwys estate in Old Colwyn.
Shay’s mum, Kelly Williams, 29, who brought them both along, said: “It’s a brilliant day out for all the children and their parents and friends.
“This family day is really special and everyone looks forward to it each year.”
A big crowd-puller for the kids was Ranger Rob who provided some close encounters with his collection of snakes and reptiles.
Among those who plucked up courage to give a careful stroke to a black and white Argentinian mountain tegu lizard named Jackie was three-year-old Aimee Brookshaw who was there with her mum Kathy and a group of other children from Cartrefi Conwy’s Maes-y-Dre development in Abergele.
A surprised Aimee said: “It was nice and cuddly but it had very bumpy skin!”
Mum Kathy said: “I think it’s great that Cartrefi has these family days where there’s so much going on and we love to come every year.”
Charlene Smith, 37, from Argoed in Kinmel Bay had brought along her two children, Assian, 15, and nine-year-old Gemma and all three had a go at petting the friendly lizards.
Charlene said: “I’m in a wheelchair at the moment because of a problem with my spine but I was determined to get here today as everyone has such a great time as these special days.”
Swinging along with music from one of the main-stage acts – the Goodnight Sweethearts doing songs from the 40s and 50s – was 73-year-old Pat Jackson from Ddol Ddu in Old Colwyn.
Pat, who has been a Cartrefi resident for 40 years, said: “I’m here with my family, including my little great-grandson Zac, today and we’re all having a fantastic time.
“There’s something for everyone but I particularly like the songs.”
There was more to delight Pat and her friends when Ann Atkinson took to the stage just before Joe Woolford.
The former musical director of the world-famous Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir and current musical director of the Trelawnyd Male Voice Choir, Ann is also an accomplished mezzo soprano singer and received a warm reception for her set which included Summertime by Gershwin.
Ann was appearing at the Big Fun Day to showcase the North Wales International Music Festival, which this year takes place at St Asaph Cathedral from September 26-October 3 and has Cartrefi Conwy as one of its main sponsors.
She said: “This is going to be an iconic event in the classical musical calendar of North Wales and I’m here today to promote it as we want as many people in the community as possible to have access to it.”
Shelley Brown, from Talybont, in the Conwy Valley, said: “It’s a very special day for everyone and I think it’s great of Cartrefi Conwy to put something like this on which must take lots of organisation.”
A guest at the event was North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood who said: “It’s great to see so many people having a happy time at a wonderful event which shows that housing associations are about much more than bricks and mortar.
“Cartrefi Conwy communicates with its residents in a way that is good for everyone, which means better outcomes, improved life opportunities and a smarter way of working.”
Cartrefi Conwy Chief Executive Andrew Bowden, who was at the event with his own family, said: “This is the seventh family day we’ve had and it’s bigger and better than ever, with lots more entertainment as well as providing plenty of information and advice for our tenants on a wide range of topics from health and safety to educational opportunities and avoiding debt.
“I hope everyone who came had a great day because I know that our staff who are involved in organising the event look forward to it as much as our tenants do.”
He added: “I’m delighted that Joe Woolford was able to sing for us and pleased be able to support Elen’s Fund.
“The appeal backs the importance of organ donation to whole families and we house people from across the generations.”