2011 marked the 25th Anniversary of the Cwmavon based Male Choir, Bois Afan.
The choir was formed by a group of close friends over a few drinks in 1986, their aim initially was to revive old ballads and songs from 1930-60 as well as the most popular songs from musicals and films. Add to this an array of popular welsh folk songs and hymns and you have a good evening's entertainment from the Bois Afan.
Over the years the choir has performed at many social, charitable and wedding type events both locally and abroad. Some of the countries they have visited include Portugal, Poland, Germany, Brittany, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, the Basque Region Bulgaria and Spain.
In 2011, to celebrate their Anniversary they toured the small Eastern European state of Montenegro. The choir performed two formal concerts, one in the ancient town of Budva in the old Roman Square , the other at the Hotel Iberostar in Bei Ci Ci. Both concets were a great success being warmly received by the local Montenegrin population as well as the mainly Eastern European nationalities that were visiting the country on holidays.
Although only a small choir compared to most, the Bois are always willing to support worthy charitable events and have recently been involved in concerts to support 'Help The Heroes', 'MacMillan Cancer Fund' and 'Leonard Cheshire Disbility Foundation' to name but a few.
The choir held their 25th Anniversary Dinner Dance at the Dylan's Club in Cwmavon, guest speakers at the event included assembly member Dr. Brian Gibbon and Graham Jenkins, brother to the late Richard Burton. Mr Jenkins read out a message of support from the choir's President Sally Burton, to which she stated she was proud to be associated with a choir that not only contributed so much to the local community but also to the culture of Wales.
The Bois are extremely proud of its association with Sally and were delightful to receive a generous donation from her in support of the choir.
A special mention to go to one the choir's most influential members over the last 25 years, Mr Brin Roblin. Back in 1986 having listened to numerous requests from fellow friends and drinkers in Cwmavon to sing more popular songs from the shows as well as hits from the 50's and 60's, Brin persuaded a small group of friends to form Bois Afan to do just that. Assisted by characters such as Jack Thomas, Graham Jones, John Williams, the late Glas Samuel and the choir's first musical director Gwylfa Powell, Brin became the choir's first Chairman, a role that he has carried out with distinction over the last 25 years.
The numerous continental tours the choir have enjoyed over these past 25 years are largely down to the efforts and organising skills of Brin and his wife Nerys. Testament to this is the choir's most recent tour to Montenegro which has seen Brin involved in everything from booking the flights to organising a civic reception with local officials in the resort of Budva. Although Brin has recently stepped down from his role as Chairman, at the tender age of 80 he is still as active as ever singing with the choir as well as performing his duties as a local councillor with his trade mark enthusiasm and good humour.
The choir is extremely fortunate to have an able successor to Brin in the larger than life character of John Williams. John, whose booming bass voice would grace the ranks of any choir, has been a loyal member of Bois Afan throughout it's 25 years and under his chairmanship is keen to see the choir develop further in to the future. With membership now up to 33 and with the talented Wendy Murphy as its new Musical Director, we all look forward to the next 25 years.
Choral singing has in recent years enjoyed something of a revival with contemporary groups such as Only Men Aloud raising the profile of Male Voice Choirs in particular.
When a small group of friends from Cwmavon sat down at their local all those years ago to plan the start of Bois Afan, little did they know how successful a singing group the bois would prove to be in future years.
The community spirit and good humour those founders brought to the choir 25 years ago has helped to sustain the choir over the years making it a very enjoyable experience for its current members to be a part of, all of whom are extremely proud of the future of Bois Afan.