A WORKPLACE choir in Merthyr Tydfil has seen huge demand to get back together following Covid restrictions, with the group reuniting virtually to sing a popular Welsh song.

The choir at EE’s customer service centre in Merthyr saw colleagues jump at the chance to get back to singing as a group, after they were invited to perform a song for Welsh Language Music Day on 4 February. The day was established in 2013 to celebrate and to introduce people to Welsh language music.

EE Merthyr Tydfil contact centre choir

The choir, established in 2017, chose to sing the popular Welsh song Yma o Hyd which means “still here” in English. The song, released in 1983 by folk singer Dafydd Iwan, has seen a revival in popularity in recent years, being adopted by fans of the Wales national football team.

The choir saw huge demand from colleagues at the centre wanting to record the song via video, with those signing up saying that singing together provided a chance to ‘switch off’ from work and life pressures, particularly during the pandemic, and to have fun with colleagues.

Elisabeth Williams, a sales advisor at the centre, said: “I love to sing, and to be able to do that in work was an amazing opportunity. I couldn’t miss the chance.

“I have suffered with mental health for all my adult life. Being in the choir gives me a sense of belonging and it really lifts my spirits and those around me. It makes me smile and laugh. I love the positivity around it and how nobody judges anyone else.”

Elisabeth Williams

Many at the centre said it was also an opportunity to discover Welsh language music. Despite many in the choir having some basic knowledge of Welsh from school or through family, some said it was an opportunity to re-connect with the language and discover Welsh language music for the first time.

Sales advisor Ayesha Griffiths isn’t a native Welsh speaker, but now plans to learn more. She said: “Singing Yma o Hyd means a lot, especially after learning the history of the song. I plan on listening and learning more Welsh language songs in future.”

Sales advisor Carwyn Minard said he has a basic understanding of the language, but has been learning more Welsh as his daughter attends a Welsh school. “The Welsh language means a huge amount to me, and it frustrates me that I cannot speak it fluently as it’s something we should all make the effort to learn.

Ayesha Williams

“Our culture and heritage is a huge part of who we are and our language needs to thrive not just in us, but with future generations.”

30 people at EE’s centre joined the choir virtually to rehearse the song and record the video performance between shifts.

It has been a busy time for the centre, with customer demand for connectivity and support reaching record levels. Customers’ data usage on EE’s network has increased by 79% since 2019 as customers rely on connectivity more than ever for things like working from home, education online and the growth in video streaming.

Carwyn Minard

Marc Allera, CEO, Consumer Division, BT, said: “My colleagues in Merthyr continue to do great work and raise the bar for customer service. They are enthusiastic and passionate people, so I’m not surprised so many have played their part in this fantastic performance.

“The pandemic has been a really busy and challenging time for everyone here, but they have risen to it and done all they can to keep our customers connected. Now, it’s great to see them getting back together, albeit virtually, and having a lot of fun with the choir. The words Yma o Hyd – or ‘still here’ – really struck a chord. And you can see what it means to be part of this amazing team.”

EE’s award-winning Merthyr Tydfil contact centre is known widely for its community work and charity fundraising. It is also home to EE’s dedicated Welsh-speaking customer service team, the only UK mobile provider to offer dedicated help and support to thousands of Welsh-speaking customers.