FORMER Monmouth MP Huw Edwards, one of the founders of Monmouth Male Voice Choir, has been awarded the MBE in the New Year’s Honours for services to music and charity.

Speaking after the Honours List was announced, Huw said: "Everyone involved with Monmouth Male Voice Choir over the past 12 years deserves to share in this honour – choir members, our conductors and accompanists, the thousands who have attended our concerts and those in the many charities we have supported.’

Huw was involved in forming the choir with well known actor Aneirin Hughes in 2012 and served as chairman for ten years.

During this time the choir performed at the Royal Albert Hall on two occasions, competed in the National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny and Llanrwst and sung on the pitch before Wales rugby internationals against Scotland and Georgia.

This year the choir were privileged to be invited to perform for the United States Ambassador Jane Hartley as part of ‘Wales Week London’.

"The Choir has grown steadily over the years and now has over 60 members," said Huw.

"We aimed to promote the great tradition of Welsh male choral singing which is admired the world over. This tradition grew from the Welsh nonconformist chapels and the camaraderie and struggles of men in the Welsh coal, steel, and slate communities throughout Wales.

"Anyone who attended our last Gala Concert at St Mary’s Priory Church Monmouth will have seen how the choir is also developing in exciting new ways under our superb Musical Director Lewis Hutton. There is something very special about the range of classical, sacred and lighter music we perform."

Huw grew up in a Welsh family in London and learned many of the hymns the choir performs from a young age at the Welsh chapel, Capel y Boro, where his father was Minister.

After studying at Manchester and York he became a university lecturer in social policy.

In 1991 he was elected Labour MP for Monmouth in an historic by election and served as MP for nine years. He now works with university researchers on promoting their work to policy makers.

"When I first came to Monmouth, I was shocked at some of the attitudes towards Welsh I heard," he said. "Now it is so rewarding to see the reception our choir receives for singing in English and Welsh, hearing both anthems at civic events and seeing children at my granddaughter’s school singing in Welsh and gain an appreciation of Welsh traditions."

Huw added that Monmouth Male Voice Choir is keen to attract new members. There are no auditions, and no prior knowledge of music or Welsh is required.

The choir rehearses on Thursdays at 7.30pm at Monmouth Baptist Church.

"It has been wonderful to be part of the choir which is going from strength to strength," he says. "We want to welcome new members to be part of this tradition, help the good causes we can support and just enjoy it all."

Also recognised with an MBE is consultant nurse Linda Edmunds who leads the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board’s Heart Failure and Cardiac Rehabilitation team which runs clinics across Gwent. 

Mrs Edmunds, who lives in Haverfordwest, has worked with the Gwent board for the past seven years having joined the NHS in 1977 and worked in cardiac nursing since 1983, first in Cardiff and the Vale including clinics in Llandough and Barry. 

“It’s obviously lovely and not something you expect but it’s nice to have been awarded it,” said Mrs Edmunds, who said she has been involved since specialist services were developed in the early 1990s. 

“There were very little cardiac rehabilitation services then, I was with Cardiff and Vale, they started the programme and groups started across Wales.

"It’s great to have the opportunity to have been involved in the service since the beginning and the same with heart failure there was very little nursing input 25 years ago and to see it grow from one person in a service to a full team is wonderful.” 

Married for 38 years, the 64-year-old grandmother of two, said her husband Chris has “supported me throughout my career and I probably couldn’t have done it without him” and said she felt the “humbling” honour is an acknowledgement for “all the teams I’ve worked with”.