Page last updated at 16:14 GMT, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 17:14 UK
Singer remembers 1958 Eisteddfod

Dyffryn School Choir, from Cwm, Ebbw Vale 1958 - courtesy Elaine Muir
Dyffryn School Choir 1958 - Elaine is second from the right, second row from the front

Elaine Muir nee Winch recalls taking part in the National Eisteddfod when it was last held in Ebbw Vale, in 1958.

I was 14 years old and I was a member of Dyffryn School Choir from Cwm, Ebbw Vale.

I cannot remember the test piece but I do remember the practice that we put in to prepare for the Eisteddfod - we had to be note and word perfect.

The conductor of the choir was the late Patrick Sheen, a strict disciplinarian.

When we walked onto the stage our hands had to be at our sides, then one click of his finger and as one our hands were clasped in front of us.

Audiences were always impressed at this.

The tension before we went on stage was almost unbearable and I recall feeling sick with apprehension.

The building was massive and overwhelming; I had never seen such a huge building, but I recall it being very basic, with a lot of wood, nothing like the lovely pink marquee this time.

After the announcement that we had won the Children's choir competition, I remember feeling unbelievable excitement and joy.

People came around us to congratulate us and made a real fuss of us and I was really embarrassed and dumbfounded when Miss James, a teacher at my primary school, came to congratulate us.

In those days we were very much in awe of our teachers and didn't really consider that they were people with families etc - to us they were Miss or Sir.

It was a wonderful choir obviously, to win the Eisteddfod, and it gave us the opportunity to travel abroad, which was unheard of in those days, for the likes of us.

We toured Germany as an act of friendship towards a former enemy several times and had links with the South Wales Borderers.

The choir represented the UK at the the Bayreuth Festival on one occasion.

There is still a choir at Cwm - the Patrick Sheen singers with some of the 1958 girls still in it. This choir is conducted by Avril, the widow of Patrick.

I am second from the right in the second row from the front and can name about 25 of the girls in the photograph.




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