ORGANISERS are urging the music loving public to support a concert in aid of a vital child protection charity.
A star studded line up will be performing at St Asaph Cathedral, on the evening of Friday, February 15, to raise much-needed funds for the Prestatyn-based Childline Cymru Helpline.
The main attraction will be Wales's top tenor, Rhys Meirion. The concert will also feature international opera star Leah-Marian Jones, along with classical pianist Annette Bryn Parri, the Beaumaris Youth Brass Band and the choir from Ysgol Glan Clwyd in St Asaph.
The need for the helpline has been brought into sharp focus by the Jimmy Savile scandal and the new issues around the North Wales Child Abuse Inquiry.
Concert organiser Lloyd Fitzhugh OBE, a former High Sheriff of Clwyd, revealed the number of calls handled by the helpline has soared by over 30 per cent as a result of recent publicity.
Mr Fitzhugh said: “Child protection is a hot topic at the moment and over the past few months the helpline has seen the volume of calls it takes rise by one third.
“It now finds itself in need of more trained volunteers to cope with these calls. However, it costs around £1,600 to train each volunteer to the required level, so that is where the money we raise from the concert at St Asaph Cathedral will be going.”
Both Mr Fitzhugh, who is a landowner in Wrexham, and his wife Pauline have been closely involved with the NSPCC for a number of years.
He organised his first concert in aid of Childline at St Asaph Cathedral which again starred Rhys Meiron. It attracted a capacity audience of 350 and raised £3,700 for the helpline.
Mr Fitzhugh added: “Given the huge success of the last concert we thought we would organise something very similar this year.
“Again it will feature the very best in classical music from some of Wales’s finest performers.
“The concert will have as its two main sponsors the Pendine Park care organisation and children’s care organisation, the Wrexham-based Prospects Care.
Rhys Meirion said: “I am delighted to support anything to do with the NSPCC because the protection of children is absolutely basic.
“As a former headmaster particularly I know how vitally important this is.
“St Asaph Cathedral is a fantastic venue and has the perfect acoustics for classical music.
“I hope as many people as possible come along to support us because this is a really worthwhile cause.”
Steve Elliott, director of Prospects Care, which is one of the main sponsors, said: “We have been in the business of providing residential care and education for young people aged 11 to 18 for the past 19 years and are obviously very keen on issues related to children and young people.
“We are therefore delighted to give our backing to a concert which is supporting a helpline for young people experiencing difficulties.
“It is a certainly a cause very close to our heart."
It was a sentiment echoed by Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE.
He said: "The abuse of children is an abomination and recent events have brought the issue into sharp focus.
"If there is a positive to be drawn, it is that more children are calling this vital helpline but that help comes at a cost which makes fund-raising events like this so important."
Rhys Meirion was born in Porthmadog and worked as a primary school headteacher at Ysgol Pentrecelyn near Ruthin before finding international fame in the world of opera.
The concert at St Asaph Cathedral begins at 7.30pm on Friday, February 15 and tickets, priced at £12.50, are available on the door on the night.
Those wanting to buy tickets beforehand should ring 07714 156060.