Adapted from a report by Anna Morrell for the Church in Wales

As a 10-year-old Chloe Wilson sang with her school choir at Canterbury Cathedral in front of two archbishops as part of a concert organized by her parish priest. Now, eight years later, she’s won a place to study singing and acting at an American academy and her local church is helping out.

St. Anne’s Church in Ynyshir in the Rhondda valley is the venue for Chloe’s first concert to raise money for her place at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. She needs to raise thousands of pounds for the two-year course, which she will begin in the autumn.

The Rev. Paul Bigmore, vicar of St. Anne’s, says he is delighted to help Chloe realize her American dream. He set up a project nearly 20 years ago called Music in the Community to revive the once legendary musical heritage in the Rhondda. As part of that he organized a 10th anniversary concert at Canterbury Cathedral in 2008 featuring the choir of Chloe’s primary school, Ysgol Llwyncelyn. The choir performed in front of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Wales.

“I am delighted that seeds sown through the Music in the Community scheme are still bearing fruit,” he said. “It is wonderful to see a young girl from Porth have the confidence to develop her talent and to think big. This is a marvelous opportunity for Chloe, and we are very pleased to support her as much as we can. We’re already planning a parish trip out to see her next year!”

Chloe, who will be sitting her A Levels in the coming weeks, says the experience of singing in Canterbury Cathedral inspired her to pursue her dream.

“It made a huge impression on me and I was quite taken aback by the whole experience,” she says. “I was so pleased to be able to represent my school there with Father Paul as part of Music in the Community. Singing in such a setting gave me wonderful memories and definitely inspired me to try and pursue my passion so that I would be able to perform in places like the Cathedral time and time again.”

She has another backer: the Welsh actor Michael Sheen. He has been following her career with interest and has made a substantial donation to the fund.

“Chloe has always admired Michael and what he has given back to Wales,” says Chloe’s mother, Sharon. “She invited him to the concert but unfortunately he will be in L.A. then. But he has given her a lot of encouragement as well as a donation.”

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