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Vale of Clwyd choir’s donation in memory of inspirational teacher

Pictured: Ifor Rhys; Alaw Owen and Caryl Vaughan. Picture credit: Mandy Jones

The memory of an inspirational primary school headteacher has been recognised five years after her death from motor neurone disease by a donation of almost £3,000 from a Vale of Clwyd choir.

Côr Nantclwyd, a mixed choir based in the Vale of Clwyd and with over 100 members drawn from across Denbighshire, Conwy and Flintshire, donated the money from a concert at Theatr John Ambrose in Ruthin in memory of Gwenda Owen for research into the debilitating illness.

They joined with Côr Rhuthun to perform a new song, ‘Barcud ar y Gwynt’, Kites in the Wind, specially written in Gwenda’s memory by her son, Dyfan Phillips, and then put to music by acclaimed composer and musician Robat Arwyn, from Ruthin.

Mum of three Gwenda, the wife of the Rev John Owen, taught generations of school children in her time at Ysgol Pentrecelyn, near Ruthin, and at Ysgol Llandrillo, near Corwen, where she was head teacher.

The Chairman of Côr Nantclwyd, is another of her three sons, Ifor, and he said: “It meant so much to me that the money should go to MND because it will really mean something for the families affected by this dreadful disease.

“Hopefully it can help lead to new treatment for a disease that is now getting much more attention thanks to the efforts of Doddie Weir and Rob Burrow.

“They’ve been fantastic in raising awareness of the effects this has on those who suffer from it and their families and hopefully we can play our part in one day finding a cure.”

Côr Nantclwyd has also been given a helping hand to the tune of £400 from law firm Swayne Johnson have a base in St Asaph and offices in Denbigh, Ruthin, Llandudno, Mold and Tattenhall, Chester.

The firm are represented in the choir’s ranks by Swayne Johnson Director and Head of Agriculture Caryl Vaughan who said: “The choir is very special to us all and to the area and draws its members from across Denbighshire and into Conwy and further afield.

“At Swayne Johnson have a strong tradition of supporting local charities and organisations and we set up the Swayne Johnson Charity Fund to make it easier for applications to be made to us for help.

“The fund covers North Wales and Cheshire and it has worked very well and we have helped many recipients and are always happy to receive enquiries.”

The choir are currently working on a song for an album by Ioan Rees and preparing for an appearance at the popular annual Ruthin Festival Top of Town event on the town’s St Peter’s Square, on Saturday, July 5

Conductor Alaw Owen, from Denbigh, said: “Conductor Alaw Owen, from Denbigh, said: “The choir is doing very well and has over 110 members which is amazing and highlights the importance and the demand to create social opportunities for this specific age group in the area, while of course acknowledging the power of music.

“As a committee we can’t believe the number of members that turn up week after week but the doors are always open of course for anyone who wants to give singing a try – especially men.

“As the minority, with around 25 male voices, there’s plenty of quality, but maybe we’re lacking quantity.

“As one of the choir’s conductors, the emphasis is always on having fun, making sure that any rehearsal or experience is enjoyable but to do this and to take the pressure off each of the sections it is always nice to have a good number of voices. We’d welcome any interest, and to help give the men a bit of a boost.

“We are a choir for those aged 30 plus – there are so many men and women in the choir who haven’t sung since their high school days, and if that resonates with anyone who’d also like an excuse to get out of the house and to enjoy that feelgood energy of singing in a choir – get in touch.

“It’s very much a team effort, an extended family, and we’re looking forward to performing at one of the highlights of the year for us, which is Gwyl Rhuthun, Ruthin Festival, in July.”