Welsh Guards – icing on a Welsh cake.

It was meant to have been an easy week catching up after my gallivanting (as my gran would have said) but it’s been busy and a really delightfully full one instead. It started with landing in Bristol last Monday and making my way straight to Wales’ oldest town to join the Band of the Welsh Guards as part of their 100 years celebrations.

I’ve had an association with the band since 1994 when the former Mayor, Richard Goodridge OBE asked if I would join the band with Cor Meibion Dyffryn Tywi as a fundraiser at the Lyric Theatre for the Sir Geraint Evans Welsh Heart Research charity.

I was so delighted to be part of this for so many reasons as you can imagine. To sing with any military band is a real privilege but to sing with the Welsh Guards is the icing on the cake for me, plus it was the late Sir Geraint that had proclaimed that I would be an opera singer when at the time my heart had been firmly set on becoming a chief.

I remember the bandmaster in ’94 was Major C.J. Ross, a really delightful man but when I visited the band at their barracks for rehearsal I was overwhelmed with nerves and completely intimidated by the whole set up. I must say that within minutes I was made to feel at my ease.

Since then I have worked with the band on a number of occasions but probably the most important and poignant meeting was recording the charity single “Tell My Father” for the Welsh Guards Afghanistan Appeal. The single is still ticking along helping a very important charity.

So last Monday I met the new Director of Music Lt. Col. Kevin Roberts and Bandmaster Richard Burton (not the one that married Elizabeth Taylor). With some old faces in the band and many new ones too  it was a real privilege to work alongside them again. This time I wasn’t scared like my first meeting. It was more like returning to a group of friends. It did feel very special indeed.

St Peter’s church was pretty full to capacity – no mean feat. The excitement of the band’s arrival could be felt way beyond Carmarthen. Haverfordwest Male Voice Choir waited in the choir stalls and like any military operation at 19.30 hours the door of St Peter’s swung open and down each aisle appeared a mass of red. Yes the triumphant Welsh Guards had arrived and were heralding Carmarthen.

It was fantastic hearing them and seeing each and every face beaming with pride and joy.  The choir too did themselves proud and lifted the roof on a number of occasions. Just what the church’s restoration funded wanted I’m sure. It was a wonderful night. I hope to see the same kind of evening at the Lyric theatre on October 17th for a Festival of Remembrance. Not to be missed! All in aid of The British Legion with yet another iconic Welsh Male Voice choir, Pendyrus.

This article was originally published in the Carmarthen Journal in Mark’s weekly column for the paper.

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