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Friday 25 November 2011

           At the 2011 Annual General Meeting of the Bridgend Male Choir, choristers were saddened to learn that its long standing Chairman was to stand down.            

Mansel Abraham joined what was then the Bridgend Police Choir in 1974 and was persuaded to take the Chairman's role in the following year. His first year in office coincided with the end of the Vietnam War; the take off of the spacecrafts Apollo and Soyuz for the USA-Soviet meeting up in space and the jailing of three prominent US citizens after the Watergate cover-up, such is his longevity in the role. Thirty six consecutive years is a tremendous record which is unlikely to be beaten.

           There are many personal highlights under his stewardship which include the Choir's first visit to Bridgend's twin town at Langenau, Germany. The tour had two formal concerts and many informal, which sing-alongs have been a feature of all tours since. Mansel recalls that one chorister had a heart attack in Germany and had to be left behind. Thankfully, while a swift recovery was made, anything but a swift return to Wales was possible, with the hospitality enjoyed from local residents. A highlight of the trip was the visit to Ulm Police HQ and the fantastic hospitality and good fortune for a chorister who Mansel dragged back off a busy highway after looking right rather than left! There are far too many “personal” stories to relay in this brief choir career review.

          It must be mentioned however that there have been many more UK & European tours under his leadership, the highlights being visits to Canada, Spain, Italy, Jersey, France, Northern & Southern Ireland and Germany – a number several times. Together with performing at wonderful venues such as Worcester, Bristol & Liverpool Cathedrals amongst others and Eisteddfod successes, Mansel has led the Choir through a period of great achievement, helping choristers to be excellent ambassadors for Bridgend and Wales. His pride in being presented with a Citizenship Award by the Mayor of Bridgend County Borough Council last year is well worthy of recall.

          The Choir was 80 strong when Mansel came into office and despite a general trend for reductions in chorister numbers, Bridgend Male Choir are greater in numbers today. Mansel said “ I have particularly enjoyed the camaraderie and to my mind this Choir has always been the best”. Under his stewardship he saw his role as taking the ultimate responsibility and took his role seriously. He encouraged choristers and members of his committee to represent the Choir to the highest standard and to be proud of membership of such a fine organisation. He went on to say “I have enjoyed every minute of my 36 years as Chairman and would not have missed it for the World”. Mansel will continue to sing with the Choir, hopefully for many more years and choristers can be assured that he will be ensuring standards are maintained from the chorister ranks.

         Such is the esteem with which he is held that he was made a Patron of Bridgend Male Choir joining such illustrious people as Wales' First Minister, Carwyn Jones; Max Boyce; Huw Edwards and local businessman, Trevor Veasey amongst others. Mansel said that he was “delighted to receive such acknowledgement which he would treasure”.

         Mansel is succeeded as Chairman by local architect, John Gould who has been a loyal Vice Chairman for the past 11 years. It therefore seems that continuity is assured. He will be supported by new Vice Chairman, David Burt.

        Also recognised at the Annual General Meeting were Founder Life Members, Colin T Matthews and John Wood who were both made Choir Vice Presidents. The awards were in recognition of their stature, fantastic attendance levels at practice & concerts and longevity with a Choir which is about to commence its 52nd year.


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