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A Neath school choir took centre stage at Wembley Arena

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It has hosted musical legends such as David Bowie, ABBA and The Rolling Stones, but last week it was the turn of Alderman Davies Church in Wales Primary School (ADS) to take to the stage at London’s SSE Wembley Arena.

The choir of 7-11 year-olds from the Neath school performed at the iconic arena when they took part in Voice In A Million (VIAM) – a UK-wide singing event for children.

Alderman Davies was the only school from Wales that performed on the venue’s main stage, and not only that, the choir sang in Welsh.

Sixty members of the 70-strong choir made the journey to London last Thursday to take part in the event.

Voice In A Million was set up in 2009; as a promoter of school / singing events, with an under-pinning message that raises awareness of the plight of children in care and the importance of Adoption and Fostering, both in the UK and worldwide. Approximately 6,000 children sang at the Arena on March 9th.

Also, on their return the Alderman Davies choir will be recording their rendition of Calon Lân for the official VIAM album!

“We are so proud of the children, and to say they were excited is an understatement,” said James Dummer, Alderman Davies Deputy Head and choirmaster.

The choir took part in VIAM 2016, but a surge in numbers this year enabled them to be big enough to audition for the main stage.

Mr Dummer said, “It is a tough process and to even be accepted to audition the choir must have at least 50 members, but our choir numbers have been growing steadily and so we decided to go for it and audition.

“It was nerve-wracking for the children but they were superb, and when we heard we’d made it to the main stage and were then asked to sing in Welsh we couldn’t believe it.”

The choir performs regularly, most recently at last month’s Holocaust Memorial Service at the Princess Royal Theatre in Port Talbot.

Choir member, Mari Griffiths, aged 10, said, “It was a fabulous opportunity and an experience we will remember for ever. I’m really proud of our choir for persevering in learning the songs and dance moves.”

VIAM founders and adoptive parents, Robert and Jo Garofalo said, “The need to continue to raise awareness for adoption and fostering remains as important as ever to ensure that every single child is given a loving home – a new family for life.”

Now celebrating its eighth year, VIAM is opportunity of a lifetime for school children from all backgrounds to come together united in song and perform in front of their family and friends, and to date some 2,500 schools and more than 100,000 school children have participated in the concerts.

Co-founder, Jo Garofalo, is involved with every stage of auditions and knows at first hand the importance of children continuing to actively participate in music activities, and as a trained singer recognises not just the health benefits of singing but also the sense of belonging to a choir and feeling embraced.

Head Teachers she said recognise the importance of music in the curriculum, “Our live concerts showcase the talent of school children, giving them the fantastic experience of performing in front of thousands. All the children taking part receive tuition, encouragement and support.  Individually they are given the chance to shine and join the ‘Voice’, knowing that their involvement makes a difference to lives of children less fortunate than themselves.

“If just one child is adopted as a result of raising awareness through the VIAM concerts, then as we continue to grow, the sky is the limit for so many more children in care to one day say aloud ‘there’s no place like home’!”