A Blue Plaque has been unveiled to honour the memory of eminent Welsh conductor Richard Williams.

For almost 70 years he was recognised as a leading light of choral singing in South Wales and created hugely successful individual choirs for both men, women and children

Two of his internationally famous choirs attended the ceremony with family and friends near the site of his former music centre in Tonyrefail, Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Historian Dean Powell who led the ceremony said: “Richard Williams provided a lasting legacy of music making in this part of south Wales and as many as three generations of the same family sang in one of his successful choirs.

“With overseas tours, celebrity concerts and a host of recording contracts, Richard Williams’ choirs continue to stand as a testimony to his tireless efforts in nurturing Welsh culture in the communities of the County Borough.”

The Richard Williams Singers and Gentlemen Songsters both performed for the packed audience at Thomastown Community Centre.

They were also joined by Callum Howells, who famously left Gary Barlow’s “Let It Shine” television talent show to perform in “She Loves Me” on the West End with Les Dennis earlier this year. Callum was a recipient of a Richard Williams Bursary Prize in 2016.

IMG 5072The plaque was unveiled by Cllr Margaret Tegg, the new Mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taf who was joined by Richard Williams’ daughters Sian, Margaret and Helen.

Supporting the venture was former Tonyrefail county borough councilors Eudine Hanagan and Paul Wosley along with Ann Barrett of the Rhondda Civic Society who helped plan the entire project.

Richard Williams was a born entertainer, recognised in the 1938 National Eisteddfod for his talents and at the age of 15 began touring with a troupe of singers around the music halls of the UK before returning home to join the fledgling Welsh National Opera.

His musical career ended when his baby son –also named Richard - contracted meningitis, making him profoundly deaf and Richard, appalled by the facilities to help children with this condition, decided to educate his son himself.

With a part-time job selling insurance helping to keep the family going, he devoted the rest of his time to music and formed the Gentleman Songsters in 1951, followed by the Richard Williams Singers in 1965 and the Richard Williams Junior Singers in 1966. Daughters Sian, Margaret and Helen all joined the ranks under the baton of their father and have enjoyed a lifetime of music together.

Each achieved remarkable success, with frequent broadcasts, recording sessions and tours of Europe and North America. In total there were 24 overseas concert tours, performing in Moscow, Vienna, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Prague, Paris, Toronto and Vancouver.

They regularly performed before royalty and Richard Williams continued to train young singers at his Tonyrefail Music Centre and he has commonly seen three generations of singers pass from the nursery choir through to the adults.

At the age of 54 he qualified as a teacher and in 1977 was awarded the MBE for his services to music in the community.

In 1993 the Open University in Wales honoured him with a Degree of Master of the University. Richard Williams passed away in December 2007.