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The Herald Interview: Wynne Evans

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On song: Gio Compario aka Wynne Evans

On song: Gio Compario aka Wynne Evans

HE has returned.
Love him or loathe him, Gio Compario has hit our TV screens again. We thought we should get the low down and so we spoke to Wynne Evans aka Gio and asked him what he had been up to between the commercial breaks, along with some other questions that did not involve moustaches or being netted by Stuart Pearce.
We began by asking Wynne about where it started for him: “I was very lucky because my parents ran the youth opera at the Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen. I was around that all the time so I suppose my big break was there learning my trade from a very early age. It gave me an advantage when I went to college and it has given me an advantage to this day. Being involved with Junior Fun Time at the Lyric was a great place to learn. I had my operatic big break when I got my first job at the Scottish opera.”
Wynne has had a meteoric rise in a number of fields including opera, television and radio. The Herald asked him if he had always set his sights on this success. With characteristic modesty he said: “It was a natural progression. Getting a job with the Scottish opera was a great start and then I got into the Welsh opera and stayed there for quite a long time. I left in 2006 to freelance and eventually worked all over the world.
“The other part of my life with Gio made my life more commercial and that was a defining moment being on television every day.”
Some stars are contractually obliged to give certain responses to questions so The Herald asked Wynne if he was contractually obliged not to burst into song as Gio Compario. Laughing, he replied: “I can burst into song any time you want. There was a decision that I was going to have a break. I had been doing that for five years or so and I wanted to focus on my career in other areas. It was a chance to focus on learning Welsh and to focus on my radio career.”
Given that Wynne takes on so many different roles, we asked him if he had to define who he was each day. Wynne admitted that it was difficult to stick to one role and gave an example: “It is a bit of a blur really. I was in Llangollen presenting the BBC 1 highlights. After I agreed to do that, BBC Radio Wales asked if I would do a radio show. Then I was told they were short of singers for Wednesday night, so I ended up doing that as well. In between it all I was nipping into London to finish off the new Go Compare advert, which came out last Sunday. So yes, I suppose I have to switch and define which role I am playing.”
With such a busy life we asked Wynne how he managed to juggle his singing career with his other work commitments and how he keeps his voice finely tuned?: “I suppose the problem is that you have to keep the voice going. Every morning I spend half an hour or an hour getting the voice in shape so that when I am called upon to sing I am in singing mode.
“It is a unique situation that I find myself in. I am an opera singer and a broadcaster at the same time. I love the radio and singing is something I come back to like a security blanket.”
His album ‘Wynne’ came out last year and went to number one in the classical music charts. Wynne Evans told us: “Recording is an art and someone once said anyone can record an album but it takes a genius to sell it. When I tell people to buy my album I feel like a second hand sales man.”
Wynne was brought up in Carmarthenshire surrounded by Welsh speakers, so The Herald asked him how important the Welsh language was to him and if it also helped him with singing in different languages. Wynne confirmed that the Welsh language was a huge help and massively important to him. “All my life revolves around being in Wales. Go Compare are in Newport, so Wales and the Welsh language is hugely important to me.”
We asked Wynne if Wales has a healthy collection of opera singers to take the world stage. He had no hesitation in saying: “Absolutely! There is a statistic somewhere that Wales produces more opera singers than any other country. We have Rebecca Evans, Rhodri Williams, Bryn Terfel and many more talented singers. There are people learning their craft in other parts of the world at the moment who may not be known. I bump into a lot of Welsh singers at opera houses around the world. I am making a programme at the moment with Radio Wales looking at the peripatetic music teacher. If we don’t support people at a local level we may lose this wealth of talent.”
The Herald asked Wynne if he was involved at a local level in supporting young people who wanted to get into singing. He said: “We set up a charity when my mother died and it has been going for 11 years now. The Elizabeth Evans Trust now helps people who want to go and make their career in the arts. When I started singing I was at a male voice choir concert every weekend singing. Sadly male voice choirs are dying out and young artists are not getting the same opportunities.”
Music features heavily in the Gio Compario adverts and The Herald wanted to know how much input Wynne had in the making of the ads. He revealed that he did have some input saying: “I am very involved in the music and I will sit down with the arrangers and say this will work or that will work. We wanted to take a softer approach. We went for the big key change in the middle and I’ve been told it makes the hairs stand up on the back of the neck. It is a 90 second film, which in the world of advertising is a feature film. It has softness and the album has a track called Shenandoah and we were listening to that and they thought my voice sounded gentle on that and this is what they wanted to bring into Gio. He is a ‘Marmite’ character; Gio is one of these people who wants to sing about the virtues of saving money with Go Compare. He means well but it doesn’t always come across like that.”
Newspapers reported recently that Wynne had lost a lot of weight and had to put on a ‘fat suit’ to play the role of Gio Compario. The Herald asked if his weight was a problem.
Wynne responded by saying: “I don’t know where that story came from; they never called me and asked me. It wasn’t true, I’ve never needed a fat suit sadly, and I wish I had. When the campaign came out a journalist asked me how long it took me to grow the moustache and I told her it wasn’t real. They she asked me how long it took me to get into the fat suit and I said, ‘FAT SUIT!’
“I have lost a lot of weight but that is me in the ad in my full form. There is no fat suit. I am happy with myself as I am. If you speak to anybody overweight it is a curse if you are prone to put on weight. I have always struggled but at the moment I am dieting hard and cycling to work every day. Go Compare always covers me for insurance, where else would anybody go.”
The Herald wanted to know what Wynne does to relax in his spare time. He told us: “I spend most of my down time with my children and I am home whenever I can be. Taliesin and I spend a lot of time going up to watch Spurs play. I like to walk the dogs and spend my time with my family.”
We asked Wynne to choose what he thought was his greatest achievement so far in his career. He said: “It is hard because of the variety. If I chose one from each area it would be making the Go Compare adverts. Making my debut at the Royal Opera house and getting my own show on Radio Wales. When I made my debut at the Royal Opera house and there was a girl from Cwmbran there and she turned to me and said ‘I’m the new principal artist and asked are you with the Royal Opera or the ballet’. I said, what do you think love?”
Wynne has had a wonderful career and is still relatively young in the world of entertainment. The Herald asked him what advice he would give to a young person starting out in opera in Carmarthen. He said: “I was working at a good level as an opera singer for 16 years. I was in my thirties when I got my real moment. It is about working keeping going and trying to establish yourself. Having lots of strings to my bow have enabled me to keep working.”

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Carmarthenshire Archives’ new building officially opened

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ON MONDAY, November 28, Cllr Rob Evans, Chair of Carmarthenshire County Council, unveiled a specially designed plaque to commemorate the official opening of the brand new Carmarthenshire Archives building.

The official opening was attended by year 6 pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, along with their Headteacher Mr Dylan Evans, who designed the plaque by compiling various artwork and sketches that are housed at the Archives.

Established in 1959, Carmarthenshire Archives is the local authority archive service for the County of Carmarthenshire and the new building is located at St Peter’s Street, Carmarthen. 

The service is home to our extensive collection of historic documents that date from the 13th century to the present day. The collection includes archives, maps, books, photographs, videos and sound recordings. It is the Archives’ mission to preserve and make its documents available for general study and research.

Admission to Carmarthenshire Archives is free and open to anyone who wishes to use the Council’s records. Most of its services are free, but we do charge for some extra services and help.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Cllr Gareth John commented:

“Congratulations to the pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, they have designed an excellent and appropriate plaque that is inspired by the treasure troves of our archives. It was wonderful to welcome them to the official opening so that they can see their work take pride of place at a building that holds great significance to us in Carmarthenshire. 

“This is a brand new and modern building that is fit to keep and protect our county’s most precious historical documents. 

“But of course, these documents are meant to be viewed and studied by school children, students, academics and anybody who has an interest in Carmarthenshire’s rich history; and this excellent facility provides the perfect space for people to come and view these treasures.”

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Llandeilo gas works to begin say Wales & West Utilities

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WALES & West Utilities will shortly begin work to upgrade gas pipes in Llandeilo.

Wales & West Utilities has liaised with Carmarthenshire County Council to plan the work and it has been agreed that work will commence after the town has celebrated the Festival of Senses.

The £123,000 investment scheme, which is essential to keep the gas flowing safely to heat and power local homes and businesses, will begin in New Road on 21 November. This section of work will be complete before Christmas and Wales & West Utilities will return to the town next year to undertake further work in the Crescent Road area. Barring any engineering difficulties, work in the town will be complete by the end of February next year.

Wales & West Utilities Adam Smith is managing this gas pipe upgrade work. He said: “Working with the Council, we have planned this work to accommodate the needs of the town.

“While most of the gas network is underground and out of sight, it plays a central role in the daily lives of people across Llandeilo. Whether it’s heating your home, making the family dinner or having a hot bath, we understand how important it is for your gas supply to be safe and reliable and there when you need it.

“We know that working in areas like this is not ideal, but it really is essential to make sure we keep the gas flowing to homes and businesses in the area, and to make sure the gas network is fit for the future. We’ll have a team of gas engineers on site throughout the project to make sure our work is completed as safely and as quickly as possible while keeping disruption to a minimum.

“This work is essential to keep the gas flowing to local homes and businesses today, and to make sure the gas network is ready to transport hydrogen and biomethane, so we can all play our part in a green future.”

Our Customer Service Team is ready to take your call if you have any questions about our work. You can contact them on freephone 0800 912 2999.

Alternatively, you can contact us on Twitter @WWUtilities or Facebook.com/WWUtilities.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we’ll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We’ll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.

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Police appeal following theft of items from Home Bargains Crosshands

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OFFICERS from Dyfed Powys Police have confirmed that they are investigating the theft of items, including a Christmas Nutcracker Ornament valued at £129.99, from the Home Bargains store in Crosshands, Carmarthenshire.

The theft occurred at about 12:40pm on Tuesday, 27th September 2022.

Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.

They would like to identify the people in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.

Anyone who knows who the people are, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police.

This can also be done either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk or phoning 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Please quote reference DPP/2006/27/09/2022/02/C

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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