By Carl Llewellyn

The Dowlais Male Choir held their annual dinner at Merthyr Town Football Club, which officially opened its recently refurbished facilities on Monday 31st October 2016 with the Rt. Hon. Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister for Wales unveiling the plaque. On that occasion the Dowlais Male Choir were invited to entertain the guests after dinner. The present Merthyr Town Football Club chairman is fellow chorister Meurig Price.

Choir dinner guests, choristers, spouses and friends were greeted by Public Relations Officer David Powell who directed the dinner guests to the coat rack provided and introduced them to the board with the designated seating arrangements. The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Iwan Jones, Choir Chairman, who dawned a less colourful attire on this occasion.

Iwan Jones called upon Carl Llewellyn to say grace as follows:-

 Let us bow our heads…

“May we give thanks for the opportunity to share once again in the camaraderie and joviality of this annual occasion;

 May we spare a thought for those who are not with us anymore and for those who are unable to attend, either through illness or other circumstances;

As we enjoy this evening’s repast may we give thanks for the Dowlais Male Choir, which promotes a unique brand of harmony throughout Wales and beyond by its distinctive cacophony, the Dowlais Sound.

 Bless everyone here this evening for their attendance  and may we all be blessed with the best of health so we may enjoy good food, fine beverage and humorous banter in such salubrious company.”

 “God of goodness, bless our food, keep us in a pleasant mood.

    Bless the chef and all who serve us, and from indigestion,

   Lord, preserve us.”

 Amen.

After dinner the formal part of the evening’s proceedings began with Iwan Jones introducing the top table dignitaries, as protocol dictates the Mayor of Merthyr Tydfil, Councillor Margaret Davies and her consort Miss Linda Jones, President Sir Mansel Aylward CB and his wife Lady Angela Aylward, former accompanist, Musical Director and Life Member Mrs Annette Moore and her husband Clive Moore, Guest Speaker Mr Dean Powell, the Chairman’s wife Mrs Elaine Jones, Musical Director of Pontypridd Male Choir Mr Jonathan Gulliford and of course our very own Musical Director Mrs Darya Brill Williams. Unfortunately our accompanist Mr Michael Jones was unable to attend but his services to the choir did not go a miss.

This year the choir only had one recipient for a long standing award, presented to First Tenor Mostyn Davies.

Titled “Top Tenor Extraordinaire” Iwan Jones gave an account of Mostyn’s association with the choir. Mostyn retired from Tower Colliery 25 years ago due to health problems but gave the NCB 37 years of loyal service working seven days a week. With Mostyn’s love of singing he was in a dilemma and it was a toss up between  Cefn Coed Male Choir and Dowlais Male Choir. Mostyn made the right choice and was immediately accepted by Dowlais, with the crowning glory being that of a rare breed called a “Top Tenor”.

Due to work commitments Mostyn found it difficult belonging to any organisation, but his love of singing had never left him since childhood. His musical talent was nurtured when he attended Ebenezer Chapel on Pontycapel Road, Cefn Coed, under the direction of Gronwy Williams whose brother Alun Williams became the musical director of Cefn Coed Male Voice Choir.

After a hard day’s work, Mostyn would socialise at the Drover Arms, Cefn Coed, where he was often called to render a song, usually a popular choice. He related when Jimmy Young died this month it made him reminisce of the music he played, of which Mostyn used to sing.

Aside from being a chorister, Mostyn used to be a keen cyclist and could regularly be seen cycling around Merthyr and beyond, moreso when Mostyn would bend forward his T-shirt and jumper would rise up unintentionally. His wife Val said some women would even comment that Mostyn had a lovely “Bum”.

Mostyn enjoys the social side of the choir, and would join other choristers for a beverage or two after rehearsal at the Grawen, Cyfarthfa Arms or the Rose and Crown, all near Brecon Road.

Tonight we also pay tribute to Val, who has been a great support in Mostyn’s life. I believe he and Val met on a blind date, so the chemistry must have been powerful and their union truly blessed because they are still together and much devoted. Mostyn is a reserved person, but Val has such a great humour. On a visit to France Val tried her linguistic talent by thanking the waiter for bringing their drinks by saying “très bien“, then the waiter brought three beers as he mistook Val’s comment “trois bières”requesting three beers.

Mostyn and Val enjoyed many holidays in their Caravan in Tenby and enjoyed many holidays abroad, and the choir wish Val continual improvement to better health.

Well like Max Boyce’s Pontypool front row, Mostyn belongs in the Dowlais Male Choir’s Second row with Tom Davies, Grahame Clarke and Carl Llewellyn.

Iwan Jones acknowledged Mostyn’s years of dedication to the choir, and it gave Iwan great pleasure to call upon the choir’s president Professor Sir Mansel Alyward to present Mostyn with his 25 year award. Sir Mansel continued with some complimentary remarks about the choir.

Iwan Jones introduced Dean Powell, who is no stranger to the choir. He compered the choir’s 50th Anniversary Concert at Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Centre last year.

Dean Powell enjoys a first-class reputation as a guest speaker in a wide variety of events ranging from after-dinner appearances to public lectures.

An award-winning journalist, with years of experience as a newspaper editor and broadcaster, Dean is also an accomplished author and Welsh historian. For more than twenty years Dean has regularly appeared on all manner of radio and television programmes, from documentaries and religious shows to news bulletins and chat shows.

As an after-dinner speaker, Dean has shared the platform with actors Glyn Houston and Philip Madoc, entertainers Wyn Calvin and Beverley Humphreys, broadcasters Katie Adie, Nicholas Owen and Roy Noble and sportsmen Phil Steele, Rick O’Shea, FA Cup Referee Clive Thomas and World Cup winner Nobby Styles and the Association of Former Players of Manchester United.

Dean remains in particular demand as a speaker in presentation dinners and annual sports events in south Wales, along with guest appearances in Welsh evenings throughout the UK where his quick-witted style and enchanting Welsh humour has endeared him to hundreds of audiences.

Anecdotes of interviews given with the likes of Hollywood greats Gregory Peck and Joan Fontaine, Sir Richard Attenborough and Richard Todd along with American TV star Larry Hagman and icon Sir Tom Jones, have allowed Dean a plethora of humorous tales.

Following a career in local and national newspapers, including roles as literary editor of Western Mail and broadcasting with BBC Radio Wales, Dean has guest-lectured to journalism courses at several universities.

For the past decade Dean has enjoyed a successful career as a guest speaker for all manner of organisations throughout the UK.

As the author of a series of history books, the subject and themes of his lectures vary to reflect the audience he appears before. However, he is best known for his lectures on the famed Welsh surgeon Dr William Price, of whom his biography is considered unequalled.

With appearances before the Royal College of Surgeons, the Rt Hon Cymmrodorion and several hundred organisations closer to home, audiences are always ensured an evening to remember.

Realizing the sensitivity of appearing in another Male Voice Choir, Dean referred to his association with another male choir beginning with “T” and ending in “Orchy”, Dean is steeped in the Male Voice fraternity so his oratory indentified with those Dowlais Male Voice choristers present at the dinner. What really impressed the choristers and their guests was the poem written by Dean, as it gave a personal account of the history of the choir:

Those Tenors of Dowlais

Dean Powell (with thanks to Mel Thomas)

We’ve heard of those tenors of Dowlais

From the script of our Dylan the bard

Which proclaimed the success of this choir

Who found top noted singing not hard.

DT Davies’s dream became answered

When he formed the first choir of note

They grew by the dozen to a hundred

Kept the bar at Guest Keen Club afloat

 The choir has grown and its flourished,

Eisteddfods were won by the score,

The National Blue Riband – a target,

With rivals it soon wiped the floor.

Gwahoddiad Calon Lan and Nidaros

Have been sung with great fervour and strength

They’ve crossed plains to the martyrs arena

And brought charities no end of wealth.

 Fifty years have now passed with The Dowlais,

A diamond in a Welsh Choral Crown.

Looking back there’ve been many great triumphs,

The name brings out smiles not a frown.

 And what of the singers, the members,

Their wide range of music embrace,

Under Darya have sung with great passion

From top tenors right down to the bass.

Des Kelly, Meurig Price and John Francis,

 Ron Pope, Arfon Price and his friends

 Austin Adams, Les Williams and Tom Kinsey

Sang their hearts out despite changing trends.

 They’ve performed in cathedrals and churches

In chapels, theatres and halls,

In state of the art sporting stadia,

The interest in them never falls.

 Many records they’ve pressed of the Dowlais,

Recordings of concerts, on overseas tour,

To Canada, the US and Europe

English missionary visits galore.

 Worldwide they have sung in great venues

And basked in celebrity’s glare,

St Pauls Cathedral, so thrilling

But there’s no place like the old Market Square.

 They have travelled on trains, planes and coaches

And enjoyed a quick pint when allowed

Then the singing will start in bar room

Filled with glorious welsh choral sound

 As we celebrate this great occasion

Remembering all those who have gone

Our thoughts they now turn to the future

Let’s all sing with one voice, “Bring it on!”

 

The light entertainment engaged for the evening was 17 year old Elvis Presley impersonator Rhys Berry who dressed the part with hair style and all. He entertained  the guests with his agile movements and ended his contribution by inviting the choristers and guests to join in with the ‘American Trilogy’.

Many thanks to the chairman and Master of ceremonies Iwan Jones for his oratory and modus operandi in protocol, to David Powell for his supervision of the evening events, and lastly Mrs Denise Morgan, Mrs Andrea Howells and Mrs Darya Brill-Williams for their involvement of the sale of raffle tickets which amounted to £215.


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