SPECIAL commemoration performances dedicated to the ‘Ordinary Men’ from Beaumaris and Llangoed who gave their lives in the First World War, have been hailed as a “huge success”.

Beaumaris Church was packed out, with some people standing throughout what was described an “extremely moving” memorial evening of music, film, poetry and imagery on Saturday.

The Ordinary Men event was commissioned by the Rev Neil Fairlamb of Beaumaris to support Great War commemorations at the church.

It had been two years in the making, having been conceived and directed by composer Ellen Davies, with the Bangor University Chamber Choir, led by Stephen Rees.

The first half saw an eclectic mix of performance, culminating in Guto Puw’s work inspired by Hedd Wyn’s poem, Rhyfel.

The second half included Ellen Davies’s new work, Ordinary Men, incorporating film poetry imagery and recorded voices.

There was also a performance by children who wrote their own words and music. The pupils from Ysgol Llangoed and Ysgol Beaumaris had also performed their Music, Mud and Glory piece in the church, for parents and friends two days earlier.

The children’s show was attended by 89-year-old Gerald Williams, from Trawsfynydd, nephew of Hedd Wyn (Ellis Humphrey Evans), the Welsh-language poet who was killed on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele and posthumously awarded the bard’s chair at the 1917 National Eisteddfod.

Ellen said: “I had visited Hedd Wyn’s cottage near Trawsfynydd.

“I met his nephew, Gerald Williams, and saw the black chair and photographs of the farmer poet. This was a powerful and emotional experience and the title Ordinary Men was born.”

The children were helped to work on the project, during a series of workshops with Ellen Davies, harpist Mared Emlyn, project administrator Wendy Davies and local researcher Bridget Geoghegan.

During the main Saturday performance, there was also music by the Seindorf Beaumaris Band Ensemble, The OM Wind Ensemble, with leader Sioned Roberts and Mared Emlyn playing harp.

Iago McGuire performed words taken from diaries written by soldiers who had suffered shell shock and Susan Fogarty read The Pact, an unpublished poem by RS Thomas.

Wendy said: “It became clear we had a sell-out. We put out about 190 seats in line with bookings, but a number of people turned up on the night without booking and so some stood.

“We calculate about 200 came. None of us had expected such high booking numbers. ”

“The children were outstanding and a credit to themselves to their schools and their families. We want to thank everyone who helped make it such a success.”

The organisers are hoping to have a short DVD made. To reserve a copy, email wendy.davies6@mypostoffice.co.uk

A repeat performance may be held at Caernarfon Castle next spring as part of the Great War 1918 centenary year.