A grandmother who has been deaf since birth says joining a signing choir has transformed her life for the better.
And Jennifer Williams, 72, reckons she can’t wait to join fellow members of Wrexham Singing Hands when they perform their eye-catching musical routines for appreciative audiences in the Eagles Meadow shopping centre on Saturday September 30 as part of the town’s second annual Singing Streets choir festival.
Following a smash-hit inaugural event last year, Wrexham Singing Streets will again fill Eagles Meadow, which is one of the event sponsors, and the town centre with a feast of live music.
Featuring up to 30 choirs across seven venues, the spectacular event, arranged by Wrexham MP Ian Lucas with strong support from a host of town businesses, will see National Eisteddfod and Britain’s Got Talent finalists Only Boys Aloud appearing for the first time, along with North Wales Opera Studio.
Other highlights include a mass singalong in Queen’s Square and appearances by two signing choirs, including Wrexham Singing Hands, who perform musical hits using British Sign Language for the deaf.
One of Wrexham Singing Hands’ most enthusiastic members is Jennifer who joined its happy ranks about five years ago.
She said: “After my mum got German measles while she was expecting me I was born with a severe hearing problem.
“As a child I attended a special school for the deaf in Manchester where I made many friends but when I came back home to Wrexham I left them all behind. Although I went on to have my family, with two sons and a grandson, my hearing problem left me feeling quite isolated and lonely.
“Then I found out about the Singing Hands signing choir and since I joined it’s really changed my life. I’ve made plenty of good friends and performed in some great places. I just love the music and being in the choir makes you feel part of the community.
“Being involved in something like this definitely changes the way people look at those who have hearing problems like me.”
Choir spokeswoman Joanne Jones said: “Singing Hands was formed about eight years ago by Claire Cranston and myself and grew out of Wrexham Deaf Club.
“The aim is the raise awareness of deafness issues and to have fun by entertaining people.
“We currently have 17 regular members, male and female, aged 15 to 73 who are from Wrexham and the surrounding areas. While some of them are completely deaf, others are only partially deaf and quite a few have no hearing issues at all.
“We perform at a wide range of events, such as festivals, galas and fetes and even at funerals, and raise money for charities selected by our members by picking their names from a hat. In the past we’ve supported causes such as both local hospices and guide dogs for the blind and hearing dogs for the deaf.
Joanne added: “We’ve performed at Eagles Meadow quite a few times before and we all love coming here. The audiences are always so appreciative and the acoustics are just fantastic, so we just can’t wait to appear there as part of Singing Streets which is a brilliant idea.
“We do all sorts of numbers using backing tracks, from Elvis and Alice Cooper to Ollie Murs and Abba, and will be presenting a good selection at Eagles Meadow.”
Ian Lucas MP said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that Wrexham Singing Streets will be happening again this year. It’s a great way to celebrate the town’s tradition of singing.
“There is something unique about the ability of live music and street entertainment to bring people together and this year’s programme will be even more diverse.
“Choirs and audiences really enjoyed mixing together and sharing their music last year and everyone in Wrexham can enjoy their music – and much more – again in 2017, all for free.”
Mr Lucas added: “A great deal of thanks goes to those businesses whose support helps put on the event.
“The backing of Eagles’ Meadow and others with both funding and as a venue for choirs really does make a difference to the communities they serve.”
Wrexham Singing Streets grew out of Wrexham Town Centre Forum’s popular street festivals and the number of locations has been expanded to seven to reflect its popularity.
Eagles Meadow centre manager Kevin Critchley said: “I feel very strongly that all parts of the town should work together on events such as this.
“Eagles Meadow is part of Wrexham town centre are we are always happy and willing to involved with anything, such as this event, that is good for the whole of the town.
“We are delighted to host Singing Streets at Eagles Meadow and the feedback from last year shows that the choirs like performing there because of the shape of the buildings means the acoustics are excellent.
“We’re looking forward to another very entertaining and enjoyable event and I hope the weather stays fine for it.”
Choirs performing at Eagles Meadow at various times during September 30 are the James Lambert Singers from Marchweil, Dee-Sign signing choir from Chester, Happy Choir from Penmaenmawr, Dargon Song from Wrexham and the Wrexham Community Choir.
Apart from Eagles Meadow, the confirmed venues are: Wrexham Museum, Lord Street (Wrexham Bus Station), Queens Square, Hope Street, Church Street and Chester Street.
Wrexham Singing Hands choir can be contacted by calling Claire Cranston on 01978 366977, or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org