Spread Your Wings and Fly



Wings over Pembrokeshire took flight over a decade ago to offer people with learning difficulties and special needs a place to express themselves through the language of music. Back then, over ten years ago, not even the people who set it up could have imagined the scale to which it would grow, and the good it would bring.
Wings was set up in September 2007 by a group of musicians lead by Brenda Martin, who had a goal of creating a safe environment where her son could play music. With Steve, Marty and Vince, she would not only achieve that goal, but go on to make a difference to hundreds of people over the next ten years. I met with Steve Young, one of the core members of the group to find out more.
Steve has been a musician for most of his life and played in many bands over the years, The Curveballs, Lenny’s Rock and Roll Band, and The Mean Mistreaters to name but a few.
I asked Steve why the group was created.
“Wings over Pembrokeshire was set up to offer people with learning difficulties a safe place to express themselves, judgement free. It doesn’t matter about their musical skill level, we cater for beginners and individuals with more musical experience. The group started off very small, but quickly grew to a large social group where people can pick up a tambourine, a bongo drum and have a good sing song“.


I went on to ask Steve what kind of music is played during the sessions
What ever is asked for really, we do a lot of Elvis, ABBA and The Beatles, a lot of the younger members sometimes ask for some more modern songs and music from the charts, that sometimes presents an issue if we’re not familiar but we are able to take that away and add to the collection.

The group now boasts over 60 members and usually attracts between 20 and 30 people each session. Musical instruments are provided and members are encouraged to get as involved as they want.

Steve went on to add;

Its amazing to see the journey our members go on throughout their time with us. They come in very quiet and shy, usually take a back seat for the first few sessions, before long they’re rocking out and really having a good time as they gain selfesteem and make friends. Some have even gone on to have music lessons, learning guitar or piano“.  

Steve plays Keys for the group, with Brenda on Drums and Vince on Guitar. They have a huge collection of songs that the members can get up and sing along to and a large range of percussion instruments, so everybody can get involved. 
Occasionally some members of the group go out and perform to the public, The Fern in Fishguard is a favourite venue for Steve, Brenda, Vince and the rest of Wings and they have also performed with Tenby’s Gateway Club – a social club for people with special needs.
The sessions are held every Wednesday night in St Thomas Hall in Haverfordwest, West Wales, here in the UK from 7pm and can run up until 9:30pm. There is a charge for the session – just £3, which goes back in to running the group. Members must be over the age of 16 and carers and family members are welcome. The hall has a large car park and is fully accessible for anybody.
Steve was kind enough to invite me along to a session to find out more and speak to some of the members. And so, a few weeks later I accepted Steves offer and attended a session.
The first thing you notice when entering the room are the beaming smiles. The sound of laughter and enjoyment almost as loud as the music itself. I stood back for a moment to take it all in. Steve was behind the keyboard and Brenda was on the Drums. There was a spare drum kit and a large collection of percussion instruments, tambourines, bongos, drums, maracas. The atmosphere was incredible, a warm homely feeling and I felt instantly comfortable. There were, on this occasion, close to 35 people at the session. Some members were clapping and singing, some were playing the percussion instruments, some were sitting and socialising, and at the front on the microphone was one talented member was singing Help by The Beatles
Steve introduced me and put out an invitation to ‘come and have a chat’. The first person who spoke to me was Sean, who was singing the Beatles classic when I arrived. 

I asked Sean how it felt when he was up at the front singing in front of everyone and he went on to tell me;

It felt good, I like The Beatles. I come here every Wednesday and I love it, I’ve been coming for a long time. I really enjoy it.

Andrew works for a local care organisation and accompanies Sean to the sessions and told me;

These groups are so important for our communityThis is the only way some of our members can express themselves and really feel important’“.
Another member I spoke to was Adam. Adam wowed us all on the Drums and Bongos throughout the night and was delighted to tell me;
I really enjoy coming to Wings, I like playing the drums here, it feels good“.

Adam has his own drum kit at home and even brings it along sometimes and went on to add;
I’ve been playing the drums for a while and i enjoy performing to everyone, I feel like a rock star. I have made a lot of friends through Wings“.

Over the course of the night I spoke to many other members – Andrew also enjoys playing drums, Ian likes the guitar and singing and Gareth likes 80’s music and loves singing at Wings.
Everyone at Wings welcomed me with opened arms, and in doing so opened my eyes and my heart. They are more than a group, they are a family, and an absolute inspiration.
There is a saying that I hear from time to time; not all heroes wear capes – and I’ve never heard a truer word spoken – some of them play keys, drums and guitar. The work that Steve, Brenda and Vince have done over the past decade, and continue to do each week is incredible, they really are changing lives.
Music is a universal language and can be enjoyed and expressed regardless of your abilities and skills. Its something that everyone should have access to, and although not everybody does, the work that the team at Wings over Pembrokeshire is changing that for a lot of people in our county, and long may it continue. 
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.



                                                                                                               © Stargazer Music Magazine 2020

Feel free to share the above article via social media, however, please read the following;

The copyright in this article and all artwork are owned by Stargazer Music Magazine.

Be aware that the rights to all photography are owned by the photographer and likewise with any artwork by relevant artists. All rights of the owner of the work produced reserved. Unauthorized copying, hiring, lending, screen shots and reposting of sections of said article without permission is completely prohibited and stands in a court of law.