There were tears of joy when a renowned male voice choir paid a surprise visit to a care home to sing happy birthday to a much-loved former member who lives there.
David Edwards, who hails from the Blaenau Ffestiniog area, had no idea that members of Côr Meibion y Brythoniaid were gathering outside Pendine Park’s Bryn Seiont Newydd in Caernarfon when they arrived to wish him many happy returns.
On a bright and sunny afternoon, the former police officer was led out into the centre’s inner quadrangle by staff to meet by more than 20 members of the choir.
Conducted by musical director John Eifion Jones and Elizabeth Ellis at the piano, they immediately sang a rousing chorus of ‘Happy Birthday” to David who was celebrating his 70th birthday.
It was a “magical and emotional” occasion with tears rolling down David’s cheeks as the choir sang and he recognised so many of the faces singing before him.
Other residents joined in the impromptu concert along with Elwyn Williams, also from Blaenau Ffestiniog, and who also sang with the choir.
Bryn Seiont Newydd’s musician in residence, Nia Davies Williams, said David was one of the choir’s first tenors and speaks regularly about his fond memories of singing with them.
“He was a top tenor in this prestigious choir and Emyr Gibson, our creative practitioner, got in touch with John Eifion to ask a huge favour as a surprise birthday celebration for David.
“We were super excited when the choir agreed to come along and sing for David as well as another resident, Elwyn Williams, who also used to be in the choir. This was a marvellous occasion for us all.
A wonderful rendition of Men of Harlech was followed by the hymn, Gwahoddiad, which had other residents joining in, and the Anfield anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone David and Elwyn were both invited to join the choir to sing-
With the temperature soaring, it was appropriate for the choir to sing the well-known Neapolitan song O Sole Mio which was popularised in a series of ice cream commercials broadcast on television during the 1980s.
Nia added: “David speaks about the choir almost every day and the choir’s visit was very emotional for him but it’s made his day.
“He had no idea this was being planned. He knew something was happening to celebrate his birthday but it was a total surprise for him to see his friends waiting for him.
“David knew the words to the songs they sang and singing with the choir once again showed the person behind the dementia.”
John Eifion Jones said David had been a leading member of the choir for many years.
“It was good to see him once again. He was a very loyal member of the choir and contributed to all aspects of the choir’s activities. The same goes to Elwyn, or Elwyn Postman as he’s known to us in the choir. He continues to phone us regularly to see what we’re up to.
“The number of choristers turning up here today showed the depth of the choir’s community and while we recognise, they cannot be full members of the choir any more they are in the best hands at Bryn Seiont Newydd, receiving the very best care.”
Before the choir left Bryn Seiont Newydd, John Eifion presented David with a gift, a T-shirt bearing the name of the choir.
Among those enjoying the occasion was David’s sister-in-law, Meryl Pugh.
She keeps in touch with David with regular phone calls and visits and thought the choir’s visit was “wonderful”.
“It will be an occasion that will be remembered for a very long time,” she said.