An opera singer is proud to have been shortlisted for a prestigious award named after Sir Bryn Terfel with whom she sang alongside while they were both teenagers.

Talented mezzo soprano Kate Woolveridge is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Forget-me-not Chorus which organises joy-filled singing sessions for people with all forms of dementia, as well as the families, friends and professional staff looking after them

She is one of the finalists in the running for the Sir Bryn Terfel Foundation Wales Care Award For promoting The Arts In Social Care, sponsored this year by the Pendine Arts & Community Trust at the Wales Care Awards.

Sponsored by healthcare products company Ontex UK, the glittering Wales Care Awards ceremony will take place at City Hall in Cardiff on Friday, October 21.

The host for the evening will be the popular tenor, Wynne Evans, better known these days as Gio Compario in the Go Compare TV ads, and for the first time  the event will be live streamed online.

Delighted at the news of her nomination Kate sang in the same choir as Sir Bryn when they were both 18 years old and joined the National Youth Choir of Wales.

“It was the inaugural year of the choir with George Guest as conductor and the choir is still going. I’ve met Bryn since at Welsh National Opera too.

Kate is a professional singer, vocal animateur and musical director with over 30 years’ experience.

She has won numerous awards, appeared regularly on television and has given hundreds of concerts and recitals around the world. In 2017, Kate was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in recognition of her outstanding services to music.

In 2012, a viewer’s vote awarded her ITV’s Lorraine Inspirational Woman of the Year Award and in 2021, Kate was nominated for a prestigious Welsh Government St David Award.

Kate said Forget-me-not Chorus was created after a successful project between Welsh National Opera (WNO) and the Cardiff & Vale Alzheimer’s Society.

The aim of the project was to establish a choir for people with dementia and within six months 40 people were attending regularly and felt this provided a sound base on which to build. In 2011 Kate and co-founder Sarah Teagle registered Forget-me-not Chorus as a charity.

Kate, who lives in Cardiff, added: “Joy and laughter are the norm and choristers range in age from their teens to their nineties. By inspiring everyone to participate to the best of their abilities, Forget-me–not Chorus’ work -instills pride in the individual and their families, so recognition of our work by the Sir Bryn Terfel Foundation, which is obviously an arts-based organisation, means a huge amount to us.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown Forget-me–not Chorus evolved their physical, face-to-face offering to a virtual one and seized the opportunity to significantly extend their reach.

This included bespoke song dedications sent to care home residents, outdoor car park concerts and filmed -resources. Kate said she was determined to show that no one had been forgotten behind the closed doors of lockdown.

Pre-pandemic, Forget-me–not Chorus ran ten choirs in Wales reaching 300 people a week. By September 2020, 52 Welsh care homes were engaging with Forget-me–not Chorus’ online resources and now over -1000 UK wide care homes subscribe to their online resources, five community choruses meet in-person in Wales and -20 UK wide care homes are part of Forget-me–not Chorus’ Singing Strong Care Home Chorus initiative.

The organisation runs community choirs in Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan, Newport and Abergele as well as online.

Kate has also devised and developed a bespoke mentoring and training programme for the Forget-me–not Chorus team and, to date, 12 musicians have been identified and trained. Kate is currently working with Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama to offer a placement opportunity for Masters students to train as future music leaders

Nominating Kate Forget-me–not Chorus, Chair of Trustee David Jackson,  said: “I’m delighted Kate Woolveridge has been nominated for a Wales Care Award. As the Chair of Trustees have worked with and come to know Kate well over recent years and seen just how incredibly effective singing can be for people with dementia and their families. The effect of music and singing is astonishing in the way that it transforms people so positively.

“Kate works tirelessly for the people with dementia who attend the choir sessions, both in person and increasingly online via Zoom and other digital media.

“It’s wonderful the Wales Care Awards are able to recognise people like Kate, who make the world a better place for everyone with whom they come into contact.”

Mario Kreft MBE, Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the aim of the Wales Care Awards was to recognise the unstinting and remarkable dedication of unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.

He said: “The social care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job, it’s a vocation – these are people who go the extra mile for others.

“During the Covid crisis, this fantastic workforce rose magnificently to the challenge, putting their own lives on the line to do everything they possibly could to safeguard the people for whom they provide care.

“Unfortunately, it has taken a global pandemic for many other people to realise how important and how significant our social care workforce is.

“Their incredible contribution was summed up best in the powerful and emotive words of the song, Heroes of our Heart, written by the acclaimed poet Mererid Hopwood and sung by Sir Bryn Terfel, which was set to the famous tune of Men of Harlech. The message that the diolch should last forever is one that we should never forget.

“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards people need and never recognise the value of people who need care in society.

“All the nominees deserve to be lauded and applauded and it’s a real pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists.

“I congratulate all the individuals who have shown outstanding dedication and professionalism. Every one of them should be proud of their achievement.

“They are Wales’s finest.”