Ffos-y-fran Benefit Fund helps keep Merthyr singing

Thanks to backing from the Ffos-y-fran Community Benefit Fund, Merthyr residents of all ages are enjoying the therapeutic benefits of singing with an ‘uplifting’ mixed choir.

While members of Merthyr Aloud World Music Choir enjoy perfecting their vocal skills, the main aim of the group is to boost people’s health and wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem – while also combatting loneliness through a friendship and support network.

“Many of our singers have lost spouses or partners, and many are living alone,” said Musical Director and professional tutor Tanya Walker.  “The choir provides them with a joyful experience of togetherness through singing that helps to sustain them and keep them uplifted in the week ahead.”

Formed in 2009, the choir – which meets at Theatr Soar – has had its immediate future secured through a recent £1,380 award from the Ffos-y-fran Community Benefit Intermediate Grant Fund, which will cover the cost of the tutor’s fees for another year and theatre rental.

The choir meets every Friday from 10.30am-12.30pm.  Sessions cost £2.50 and are open to all – professional carers and organisations such as social services also take their clients to rehearsals to help them become socially active again.

“Families can drop off an older relative and have two hours’ respite time to meet friends, have a coffee or carry out the weekly shop,” Tanya added.  “Up to 20 members attend sessions – our oldest is aged 79 and our youngest just 23 – but we’d like to encourage even more people to come along.”

“My role is to help people find their natural and most self-expressed voices,” said Tanya.  “Many songs from other cultures really support the notion of voices singing in harmony and they are very easy to pick up for the absolute beginner – which is why world music acapella songs are so great to teach.”

The Ffos-y-fran Community Benefit Fund was established by local mining company Miller Argent, which donates £1 for every ton of coal sold from the Ffos-y-fran land reclamation scheme.  More than £5m has been awarded to a wide range of groups and causes in Merthyr Tydfil since the site opened in 2007.

Tanya Walker said: “The Ffos -y-fran grant will enable this important musical support structure to continue, as well as helping members’ musical capabilities to continue to develop as they grow from strength to strength.

“The choir also contributes back to the community with many performances for vulnerable groups and therefore, the experience of participating in the choir not only enhances the life experience of our members but also of the community around them.”

Miller Argent Managing Director Neil Brown said: “Merthyr Aloud World Music Choir is a perfect example of a community project that works to encourage and enable individuals from across Merthyr Tydfil to come together in an enjoyable, rewarding and social activity.  We are delighted that this project has been able to benefit from the Ffos-y-fran Community Benefit fund.”

For more information about the Ffos-y-fran Community Fund, please visit the Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council website here.