Memory of couple who loved Llangollen Eisteddfod kept alive

THE memory of a couple who loved an international festival to promote peace and harmony is being kept alive by their family’s sponsorship of one of the festival’s iconic competitions.

Bryan and Norma Wilson, from Tile Hill, Coventry, attended the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in North Wales over many years and delighted in its high quality of competition and spirit of international friendship.

Sadly, Norma passed away in 2004 and Bryan died in 2010.

But now, in their honour, Bryan’s sister, Hilary Wilson, and other family members are to sponsor the Choir of the World competition at the festival, which runs from July 9-14 this year.

That means the coveted Pavarotti Trophy, instituted after the world-famous Italian tenor starred at the eisteddfod in 1995, will be awarded in the late couple’s name to the winning choir.

Hilary, 61, who lives in the village of Arnside in Cumbria, said: “My brother and his wife were both keen music fans and attended the eisteddfod in Llangollen every year.

“I also go there regularly and it occurred to me as I watched the Choir of the Year Competition in 2011 how proud they would both be to have their names read out on stage. That is when I decided our family should sponsor the trophy.

“Bryan, who was 72 when he died, and Norma, who was 70, both loved watching choirs perform and also singing in them.

“Bryan sang in local amateur choirs all his life, starting from when our family was originally living in Yorkshire, and continuing when he later moved to other areas in England and even overseas.

“He first visited Llangollen International Eisteddfod when he was 18 and an apprentice mechanical engineer at Rolls Royce in Crewe and it grew to become one of the main loves and occasions of his life.

“When he met and married Norma in the early 1960s they started going to the festival together and hardly ever missed a year after that. They also took along their son, my nephew Norman, who is now 47, and he grew to love it too.

“Bryan was very proud that he was one of the earliest members of the Friends of the Eisteddfod group.”

Hilary recalled that it was music which first brought together her brother and his wife.

She explained: “Bryan was in Thailand at the time working with Voluntary Services Overseas and Norma, who was from the Philippines, was attending university.

She explained: “They met when they were both singing with a madrigal group at the university and when they later came to England and set up home in Warwick, they joined Warwick University Choir with which they sang for decades.

“I think what was important to them about the eisteddfod in Llangollen was its fantastic international atmosphere.

“They loved talking to people from around the world and whenever there was a choir from the Philippines competing Norma was in her element.”

Eilir Owen Griffiths, Musical Director of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, said: “This is a wonderful gesture from the family of two such committed supporters of the Eisteddfod.

“It is typical of the loyalty and fellowship that is right at the heart of what the Eisteddfod is all about and we are very grateful to them and delighted that they will be there for the presentation of the Pavarotti Trophy to the Choir of the World on Saturday, July 13.”

Hilary herself is a keen choral enthusiast and over the years has sung with a variety of choirs.

She said: “I was a teacher trainer and worked abroad for most of my career. When I came back to England in 1995, my brother Bryan got me into singing.

“I sang with the Arnside Village Choral Society for 16 years and, more recently, I have sung with a couple of groups near my home, the Ulverston Festival Chorus and the Mary Wakefield Festival Chorus.

“Sponsorship of the Choir of World Competition has cost £850 but it is money extremely well spent because the event it is such a lovely experience. Everyone is friendly, there’s a good atmosphere and excellent singing.

“To spend a whole day listening to a good choir is really something special.

“I can’t think of anything more perfect than to be able to hand the top prize, the Pavarotti Trophy, to the winning choir, and it is exactly what Bryan and Norma would have wanted.”

Hilary will be accompanied to the eisteddfod in July by a family party including Bryan’s brother John and Margaret Wilson, Bryan’s son Norman and his wife Rachel and Rachel’s mother Judith Hume.

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