Musical Director: Paul Cook FRSA

Paul was educated at Chetham's before winning an entrance scholarship at seventeen to study at the RNCM. He subsequently worked as a session singer at the BBC and with various ensembles and opera companies at home and abroad which included several years at Scottish Opera. 

Paul is a Certified Teacher of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and was awarded the status with the highest classification of 'Excellent'. He graduated with a first class honours degree in Music Education from UWIC and has several performance diplomas in pipe organ, piano, singing and written diplomas in music theory and composition. Paul passed the Diploma of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in Vocal Teaching with Distinction. 

In 2017 Paul was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London and current projects as an author include writing a series of ten books with an educational narrative about the natural world which will follow on from his book 'Bedolorrog the Bog Frog' to extend his existing authorship of 'Silly Stories About Vegetables' and forty 'Pete the Bee' stories which are enjoyed in many schools and homes around the world. 

Paul currently combines his work as a teacher, musician and author - not necessarily in that order. He took over the role of Musical Director of Coleg Gwent Chorale from Martin Hodson MBE in 2010. Paul is currently Head of Music at St Alban's RC High School in Pontypool and has led the school choirs all over Europe and as far afield as New York. Paul is married to Welsh soprano Jill Padfield. The couple celebrated the birth of their first child Matthew in April 2012. 

His interests, in the little free time he has, include fooling around with his young son, spending time with his wife and dabbling on the stock markets.

Paul is extremely grateful to Meryl for her strong musical and moral support, Martin Hodson for organising him all year round behind the scenes and the choristers for their unerring commitment and good humour. 

Meryl Gittins

Meryl was born in the local area and began piano lessons at a young age. She attended local schools and developed her love of music at Newbridge Grammar School where her love of accompanying was nurtured.

Upon leaving school she studied music at Newton Park College, Bath and graduated from Bristol University. She then took up her first teaching post at St. Julian's High School, Newport.

After having a number of years looking after her two young children, she returned to teaching and spent the rest of her teaching career at Ty-Sign Primary School in Risca where she became Music Coordinator.

Meryl developed a very successful school choir also forming a great bond with Risca Male Choir. The children were given the opportunity to sing at prestigious venues and thousands of children were introduced to choral singing.

Now retired, Meryl is still heavily involved in local music making. She joined the choir in Crosskeys in 1993 and became the rehearsal accompanist soon after.

In 2015, Meryl became one of the first BBC Music Day Unsung Heroes for music in the community. She now wonders how she ever found the time to go to school!! 2018