Letchworth couple donates Welsh National Opera performance for Willian church fundraiser
PUBLISHED: 08:39 10 June 2019 | UPDATED: 08:39 10 June 2019
A Letchworth couple who won a performance from members of the Welsh National Opera in a charity auction have donated the concert as a 'gift to the town' - but will be attending to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
Anthony Bunker, the former director of the opera, will celebrate the anniversary with his wife Elizabeth at the performance on Thursday, June 27.
Three musicians from the opera will perform in the concert, which forms part of Letchworth Festival - which itself is marking its 10th year - and money from donations on the night will go towards the renovation and reordering of the All Saints Church in Willian.
Tony, who works as a church warden in Willian, said: "It was, and remains, my dream that Letchworth should have a centre for the performing arts worthy of a town with its unique heritage.
"I would love Letchworth to have a facility like Saffron Hall in Saffron Walden and for the wonderful opera company such as WNO to be able to tour Letchworth.
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"These are just dreams which will almost certainly never happen in my lifetime, but I am glad to have had them and being able to give this concert to Letchworth.
"It may start others thinking and who knows what may happen."
Festival chair Hilary Kemp said: "It is important to remember the reason for this concert. As well as providing an evening of great entertainment, this is also about the festival doing what it was always meant to do - which is to put something back into Letchworth.
"The congregation and local community have already raised an amazing £200,000 towards church restoration and this will add some more to that total. However, the significance of this event is not just in the money raised, but also in the fact that it will put the church on the map, reminding people that this is not just place of worship, but also a venue for music of the highest quality and a place open to all in Willian and Letchworth."
Holly-Anne Rolfe, owner of Letchworth's Garden City Brewery, will also paint a picture of All Saints Church for the front cover of the festival programme. Her painting, together with other signed WNO items, will be auctioned to raise further funds for the church.
The performance, starting at 7.30pm on June 27, includes soprano, Angharad Morgan, tenor, Huw Llywelyn and accompanist Frederick Brown. Free tickets (donations encouraged) are available from the Local & Tourist Information Centre in Letchworth's Station Road, or the venue itself.
For more on the Letchworth Festival, which starts on June 15, visit letchworthfestival.org.