A community choir that’s celebrating its fifth birthday has been hailed as the “eighth wonder of Wales”.
The Wrexham Community Choir was formed in 2012 and has transformed the lives of its members who come from all walks of life.
As part of their anniversary celebrations, they will be performing at the town’s Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre at 3pm on Saturday, September 30, as part of the second Singing Streets Festival
The popular event will see choirs from across the region singing at venues across the town.
According to community choir co-founder Wendy Paintsil, it’s a wonderful festival and one choir members are really looking forward to.
She said: “The choir open to everyone, of all ages and experience. There are no auditions.
“I formed the choir along with our musical director Carol Donaldson who is a natural voice practitioner who firmly believes everyone can sing. She is a true magician and gets the best out of people who really have no confidence in their own ability.
“It’s as much about making friends and meeting people as it is about performing. It’s a very social group of people. We don’t ask ages but we have some teenagers and some in their 80’s.
“We are also a real mix when it comes to nationalities. We have a German lady, a South African, a few Polish people and someone who originates from Zambia, a real mix. But it also means we can learn songs from diverse areas and in different languages.
“Some people are very committed. I know one couple who drove to Manchester Airport dropped off their luggage and then came back to Wrexham for choir practice before returning to Manchester for their flight. That’s real commitment!”
She added: “It’s just a wonderful choir and we are really looking forward to the Singing Streets Festival and having the chance to sing at Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre. We are also performing at Lord Street earlier in the day.”
Retired teacher Sue Britton, of Marford, loves singing with the choir.
She said: “I’m not a musical person but I just get so much pleasure from being in what is a friendly, relaxing yet challenging choir. I get such a sense of real achievement when we learn a new song.
“And I have made so many new friends. It’s a fantastic choir to be a part of and I just enjoy what we do.”
Jacqui Mayers, a former retail worker, enjoys having the chance to sing with a group of like-minded people.
She said: “My daughter is always telling me to stop singing in the house. She claims I sound awful on my own. However, working with Carol has taught me so much and she just gets the best out of us all.
“I’ve met loads of new friends through being in the choir and I get a real kick out of singing at festivals such as the Llangollen Fringe Festival.”
Health visitor Ruth Thompson says she too has been in the Wrexham Community Choir from when it was first formed.
She said: “I just really enjoy it. I enjoy the fact we have an informal link with a Polish choir, the Choir Lutnia of Międzychód. We went on an exchange visit to Poland in 2014 which was amazing and they came to Wrexham in 2015
“The link came about as a Polish lady came to Wrexham to visit her son. She is in the Choir Lutnia and came along to our choir practice. We have since learnt Polish songs and they have learnt Welsh songs.”
She added: “It’s helped me in my job as I sometimes visit Polish women and having that little bit of Polish is really helpful.”
Penny Eaton, who volunteers teaching English to refugees and asylum seekers in Wrexham, says she loves been part of the choir alongside her husband, Mike.
She said: “I can go to choir practice tired yet come away feeling refreshed. I’m not any great shakes at singing but Carol gets this wonderful sound out of us as a group.”
She added: “I’m really looking forward to the Singing Streets Festival and performing as part of our choir here at Eagles Meadow, it’s going to be amazing. It’s just lovely been part of a group of friends who just enjoy singing.”
Mike Eaton says he enjoys the contrast of the mixed Wrexham Community Choir with the male voice choir of which he is a member.
He said: “I’m a member of the Rhos Orpheus Male Voice Choir, which is a choir I’m committed to. However, I love the contrast of singing with the community choir. It widens the experience and I enjoy singing with Penny.
“We are both tenors so get to stand together. It’s a very different type of singing and repertoire but it’s a friendly and very social group of people too.” People join the Community Choir to enjoy the experience and to sing without being judged.”
He added: “I’ve heard the choir describes as the heart of Wrexham and I think that’s nice and sums up the choirs ethos very nicely.”
Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre manager Kevin Critchley says he’s looking forward to hearing the Wrexham Community Choir and other choirs performing at the shopping centre.
He said: “The community choir is wonderful and as brought immense joy to the members and the people who listen to them.
“They have come a long way and I would like to congratulate them on reaching this important milestone in their history.
“The choir has had a positive, transformative effect on the lives of its members and because there are no auditions it is truly inclusive.
“Eagles Meadow is in the shadow of St Giles’ Church which is officially one of the Seven Wonders of Wales. In my view, Wrexham Community Choir is the eighth wonder and I can’t wait to hear them sing again.
“The Singing Streets Festival is a fantastic non-profit street choir event organised by Wrexham MP Ian Lucas.
“It’s an amazing event and we will have choirs performing at Eagles Meadow throughout the day,
“As well as the Wrexham Community Choir, we will also have the James Lambert Singers, The NWREN Happy Choir, Dragon Song Choir as well as Dee Sign and Singing Hands choirs which are both British Sign Language choirs.”
He added: “It’s going to be an amazing day and the choirs will provide the perfect back-drop to a day’s shopping.
“I’m aware just how much our regular customers enjoy seeing community events here at Eagles Meadow and the Singing Street’s Festival is one of the best.”
The choir has weekly sessions between 7:30pm and 9:30pm, at Un Deg Un in Regent Street, Wrexham.