A key organiser of Wrexham’s Singing Streets Festival and a student who helped film 2017’s event praised their university studies for boosting their work.
John Jones – who runs John Jones Quality Acoustics, a cornerstone of the live sound for the festival – studied a sound technology degree at Wrexham Glyndŵr University and used the experience to add to his business – as well as to help run events like Singing Streets.
Meanwhile Kara Davies, who is currently about to start the third year of a Broadcasting, Journalism and Media Communications BA, found herself involved when a first-year project she picked up to film the festival got turned into a half-hour television documentary on the festival.
John said: “I worked on Wrexham Industrial Estate for 27 years, and when I finished in industry in 2003 I decided I wanted to study for a degree. Alongside my main occupation, I had quite a successful DJ business, always bought good quality equipment and felt that this could be developed more.
“I did not follow the normal education path – from school to university then the job, but embarked on a university degree course at the age of 46.
“So in September 2003, I met up with Mike Wright, the programme leader, and that was it – three weeks after finishing work, I was starting at university!
“Coming to Glyndwr University allowed me to refocus my life – after my time in industry, when I graduated from Glyndŵr, I came out a lot fresher and I’ve got a different mindset now.
“I got my degree when I was fifty, and it has changed so much for me. Glyndŵr is particularly strong at widening access to university – and I’m really glad they are.”
John has since applied his studies to his businesses, John Jones Quality Acoustics, and has helped to the Singing Streets festival for the past three years.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to it this year and we’re really busy organising the finishing touches – I’ve sent 25 emails this morning alone. It’s all in place now and I hope we can keep it going for years to come.
“It’s all about putting Wrexham on the map, getting people into the town centre – and making sure they return.”
Another Glyndŵr student who has helped spread the word about Wrexham and the Singing Streets festival is Kara Davies, who helped produce a film shown across North Wales about the 2017 festival.
She said: “In the second semester of my first year, we were given a project for one of our broadcasting modules to produce some work on Singing Streets.
“It started off as a project just for the course, but some of us decided to take it further, and we went round Wrexham, meeting up with the choirs who were set to take part in the festival and filming them.
“We worked on it through the summer, and then were introduced to Rob Corcoran, a filmmaker, by one of our lecturers. By the time of last year’s festival in September, we were out around the town filming as many of the choirs taking part as we could. These were then edited together and made into a half-hour film, which was shown on Made in North Wales television.
“I just couldn’t believe that all the little bits we filmed were turned into a television documentary and shown on television – seeing that final product made all the hard work worthwhile. It was a really good experience – I was a first year broadcasting student but my studies had helped me get my first credit on TV.
“I’d definitely encourage others to volunteer for opportunities like this – it’s a great experience and you get to meet all kinds of people.”
Associate Dean for the Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology, Colin Heron, said: “The Singing Streets festival is a real community event and it’s great that students from Glyndŵr have been so involved.
“John has applied his studies in sound technology and is now at the heart of one of the festivals bringing people into the area – and Kara was able to gain first-hand broadcasting experience with her work on the festival last year.
“The Singing Streets team are still looking for volunteers for this year – so do get in touch with them via their Facebook page if you want to help.”
Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, whose idea it was to start up the Wrexham Singing Streets event in 2016, said: “We’re always grateful to the staff and students at Wrexham Glyndwr University for their involvement in the festival. The enthusiasm, expertise and energy they bring is invaluable.
“It’s heartening to hear that students – past and present – have gained valuable experiences from the event.
“This year’s Singing Streets promises to be the biggest and best yet, with more than 1,000 performers attending on the day. It will be some spectacle!”
Singing Streets takes place on September 29 this year. Of the 27 choirs due to attend, this many are from the Wrexham area while others are coming from further afield. Performances will take place at Wrexham Museum, Argyle Arch on Regent Street, Lord Street by the Arc sculpture, Queens Square, Tŷ Pawb and Eagles Meadow.
They begin at 11am and will run through until 4pm. At 1pm, there will be a mass ‘big sing’ featuring the choirs and any members of the public who wish to join in.
Glyndŵr University play a key role in delivering the event, along with its organiser, Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, John Jones Quality Acoustics, Wrexham Community Choir volunteers, Gateway Church and Wrexham Business Group CIC. The festival is sponsored by Wockhardt, Wrexham Crime Link, Hays Travel and Gateway Church.