Welsh choir receives grant to overcome challenges posed by Covid-19

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Only Boys Aloud Choir performed at the Access All Eirias Music Festival held at Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay in 2015

A pioneering choir that reached high marks when it reached the final of Britain’s Got Talent in 2012 continue to rehearse online and have kept their numbers despite funding difficulties during the coronavirus pandemic.

Only Boys Aloud, which has choirs in Wrexham, Rhyl, Caernarfon and Holyhead with a total of 80 members spread over a network of 14 choirs in Wales, was founded by Tim Rhys Evans MBE to provide opportunities for young people aged from 11 to 19 years old and keep the flame of Welsh choral tradition burning.

Since the pandemic hit, rehearsals have moved online, allowing them to practice virtually and experience the benefits and unity of choral singing despite not being together physically.

Now the choir is hoping the show continues after receiving a £ 1,000 grant from the village bakery, which was determined to help them keep the show going.

The money came from the company’s £ 5,000 Village People Fund which was set up to help local charities, community groups and sports clubs whose fundraising activities have been curtailed due to Covid-19 .

It was introduced by Village Bakery Managing Director Robin Jones to Eleri Watkins, Choir Projects Manager in North Wales, and three brothers, Joshua, Tom and Joseph Roberts, who all benefited from to be members.

The last engagement of the North Wales choirs was a concert at Disneyland in Paris to celebrate St. David’s Day.

In addition to fundraising, Only Boys Aloud is also keen to attract new members as their recruitment has also been affected by the pandemic.

Eleri Watkins said, “This donation from the village bakery is amazing, we are really made up. We really appreciate any donation to support the choirs because there is a constant struggle to find funding.

“We have boys from all kinds of parts of North Wales, from all kinds of different backgrounds, some who have performed in school and some who have never done anything like this before. is free and inclusive.

“The choir had made a huge difference in the lives of the guys here. We focus a lot on building confidence, building teams, and increasing levels of self-esteem. That’s what Tim really wanted to focus on and it works.

“We did a lot of research on the future development of the boys who went through the system. A lot of them went to college when they might not have done otherwise and many continued. didn’t do anything with music but it did help them build their self-confidence.

“The pandemic has affected Only Boys Aloud enormously, but we managed to keep going and we have weekly rehearsals online, we always kept our numbers. We are also looking to recruit new members – there is no fee or audition. From seasoned singers to those who have never tried it before, any boy between the ages of 11 and 19 can join.

“What matters to us is equality of access and quality of experience – these two engines are behind everything we do in Only Boys Aloud.”

Tom, Joe and Josh Roberts, members of Only Boys Aloud, with Robin Jones, General Manager of Village Bakery, Bakery Manager Tom Breeze and Eleri Watkins, Only Boys Aloud North Project Manager.

Robin Jones said, “The Village People’s Fund was created for organizations exactly like Only Boys Aloud. Our goal is to support local groups, organizations and charities.

“What Only Boys Aloud does is life changing and they can be rightfully proud of what they accomplish. It gives these young men the confidence and emotional resources to step out into the world and do something special.

“For some of them it’s music related and for some not, but it has helped them develop as individuals, and we’re so excited to be able to be a part of it.”

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Joshua Roberts, 20, a former student of Castell Alun High School in Hope and Hammond School for Performing Arts in Chester, credits Only Boys Aloud with earning a place to study at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. He said:

“After joining Only Boys Aloud my self-confidence grew and it really inspired me to take the three-year acting course that I am currently taking. After entering Only Boys Aloud, improving my acting technique singing has been phenomenal. I wouldn’t be where I am now without Only Boys Aloud. My ambition is to finally be in the West End and be a working actor.

Brother Tom, 18, who is studying comedy writing at the University of Salford, has been a member of the Wrexham Choir for four years. He said: “I loved every second, it’s fantastic. Drivers have our best interests at heart and you don’t have to pay anything.

The young brother Joseph, 12, a student at the Lycée Castell Alun, follows in their footsteps. He said: “I joined Only Boys Aloud three years ago and the number of opportunities I have had is incredible. It’s a dream.”

The boys’ father David added, “It’s a brilliant organization. What they have done for my three boys is absolutely fantastic and I am very grateful to Village Bakery for their support.


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