Claire Holcombe, a member of Cardiff Ward, received an enormous surprise one day when Welsh singing superstar Katherine Jenkins walked into Thornhill Primary School where Claire is a teacher and the school music coordinator. Katherine had come to inform Claire and the schoolchildren that the school had won a Best Education Project Award for an armistice cantata that Claire and the children composed to commemorate the centenary of the ending of World War I. Claire directed the production and encouraged the children to write their own lyrics to existing WWI songs after learning about the sacrifices made by soldiers and their families during that war.
The project was done in collaboration with Goldies Cymru, a charity that encourages older and isolated members of the community to join together and sing songs from the past; this helps to improve mental health and well-being, particularly for those suffering from conditions such as Alzheimer’s. A Goldies group visits Thornhill Primary School regularly; the children sit and talk to them about their past and sing songs with them, building relationships between the generations.
Two of the children involved in writing and performing the songs in the cantata are members of the Church. Twelve-year-old Owen Holcombe from Cardiff Ward wrote the theme song of the cantata, “Over Now,” and Elinor Maizey, also aged 12, from Bridgend Ward wrote the song “Life in the Trenches.” Elinor researched her own family history and found several ancestors who had fought and died in WWI and, with her family, visited their memorials in France – which they found to be a very moving experience.
Claire, who serves as the director of public affairs in the Cardiff Wales Stake, said, “Being given the opportunity to work with the children on a project that has enabled them to connect with the past, with their ancestors, and appreciate the sacrifices made by people not much older than themselves so that they can live in a peaceful land today, has been incredibly moving and rewarding.”