With a good number of engagements, it was a very busy few weeks leading up to Christmas for the popular Bracken Trust Singers, writes Clive Barrett.

It all started on the last Saturday and Sunday of November, when on both days they occupied the lunchtime entertainment slot at the annual Christmas Fayre at the Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod Wells. It proved a very enjoyable time, with plenty of good singing, and encouraging audience participation

On the first Tuesday of December, they performed a morning Christmas programme for the residents and staff of Wylesfield Care Home, Llandrindod Wells, with some of the audience joining in, and they were obviously appreciative of the Singers efforts.

On the following evening (Wednesday) the Singers, under their leader Christine Clarke, made their first ever visit to Newbridge-on-Wye Baptist Church, to perform a varied programme of well-known seasonal songs and carols. Although the number attending was somewhat disappointing, a very friendly atmosphere prevailed, with the audience joining in with the singalong songs. On that evening the Bracken Trust Singers did well to perform up to their usual high standard because the Singers’ normal excellent keyboard accompanist Bev. Nethercoat was absent due to illness. The proceeds for the evening were shared between Pentref Chapel and the Bracken Trust,

Arguably the musical highlight of the pre-Christmas period for the Singers was the “Festival of Christmas Music” at the Holy Trinity Church, Llandrindod Wells, on Saturday December 8 , with four local choirs taking part. Apart from the Bracken Trust Singers, under conductor Christine Clarke, the other choirs and conductors taking part were Cantorian, (Hilary Cox) Dolau Mixtures, and the Kington Community Choir (Catherine O’Rourke), who also played the keyboard and a flute solo. This proved to be an excellent standard concert with each choir singing at least four seasonal songs individually, and singing together notably the final one “O Holy Night“. During the evening six carols were performed with audience participation. Solos were performed by Trevor Morgan of the Dolau Mixtures, the Bracken Trust Singers’ leader Christine Clarke and Adam Sim of Cantorian, who played his solo on the key board. The compere for the evening was Pam Nethercoat, who with her husband Bev, himself the main accompanist had organised the musical evening for Holy Trinity Church funds.

The huge success of the seasonal concert was borne out by the facts that those attending numbered 120 and £750 was raised.

At the conclusion of the concert, Stephen Ashley on behalf of Holy Trinity Church thanked everyone involved in the evening. There was also a raffle with hampers for prizes, and mince pies with mulled wine, which was donated by the organisers and served by the ladies of the Church in the St. Francis Centre.

There was a good turnout of the Singers at the local Llandrindod Tesco store on the Monday afternoon, so it was not surprising that they were in good voice, and £77 was bucket collected for Bracken Trust funds. On Tuesday morning, December 12 the Singers travelled to sing their programme of Christmas songs at Crosfield Home in Rhayader. Their efforts were much appreciated by both the residents and staff alike, with some dancing taking place especially to the more lively numbers. On a more relaxed and social theme the Singers had a very enjoyable Christmas meal at the Lakeside Restaurant on the middle Wednesday. Following the meal some of the more thespian members performed a short sketch with new words about the Singers within familiar tunes.

The Bracken Trust Singers final engagement of almost double figures invitations before Christmas was their very own “Christmas Concert” at St. Padarn’s Church, Crossgates on the Saturday afternoon of December 16 . There were solos and duets interspersed with the Singers performing Christmas songs, together with carols sung by everyone present. It proved a very successful concert with the Singers giving a first- class standard performance, ending with “We wish you a Merry Christmas”. The Singers particularly excelled with “O Holy Night/ Minuit Chretiens( French version). The compere for the afternoon was Mike Clarke, who also sang three solos. Accompanist Bev. Nethercoat as usual excelled on the keyboard, and Bracken Trust Singers’ leader Christine Clarke was as always the very efficient conductor.

Following the final concert a spokesperson for the Singers said: “I think we should all be proud of our work in the local community.”