Organisers of a concert to raise money for Cancer Research UK have finally finished counting the donations – and collected almost triple the target.

The Gala Concert at Ellesmere College was organised by a mother who is undergoing chemotherapy alongside the school’s Director of Music Tony Coupe, the Parents’ Society and a wider team which made the ‘incredible’ night happen.

Bells Lewers hoped to raise £5,000 through the Ellesmere College Choral Society’s concert in March – but instead the total is more than £14,500.

Bells, from Chester, said: “I am so proud, it was the best night of my life and surpassed anything I could have hoped for.

“I was pretty pleased when we reached £7,500 but people were immensely generous and it kept rising, I am completely gobsmacked.

“The evening was so uplifting. It was tinged with a lot of emotion but there was a sense of occasion with everyone in black tie. Normally people come to shows to listen with a knowledge of the pieces, but everyone was there to support and you felt the audience were as engaged as the choir.

“It was fabulous to have so much of the community involved and it is testament to that community that they all pulled together to achieve something so phenomenal.”

As a part-time singer, Bells had promised herself she would perform in concert again when able to, having been battling bowel cancer for a year before she came up with the idea.

Sadly she was told her cancer had returned just three weeks before the performance and delayed the start of her latest chemotherapy in order to complete the high energy performance – with her surgeon in the audience.

Brendan Wignall, headmaster of Ellesmere College for 27 years, was due to give an address to honour Bells’ mother Claire Griffith, a former Custos of the College who died from cancer in 2020.

But sadly Brendan himself lost his battle with cancer just seven weeks before the concert took place.

It looked set to be a popular event when 75 people attended a ‘Come and Sing Day’ in preparation – when only 30 were expected.  With just two rehearsals beforehand Bells said ‘everyone did their homework’ and ‘sang their socks off’ on the night.

“I’m lucky to have sung in a huge number of concerts in my life, but I’ve never sung in a better one or had an audience reaction quite like that,” she added.

The performance was a unification of Ellesmere Choral Society, Shrewsbury Cantata, Ellesmere students and parents, professionals from other choirs Bells sings with and professional soloists.

It included orchestral playing by Ellesmere Camerata, the full programme showcased Vivaldi’s Gloria and Handel’s Dixit Dominus.

Tony Coupe, Director of Music at Ellesmere College, was conductor for the evening and said: “I have been part of many performances over the years but never seen a reception like I did at the end of the Gala Concert.

“From the moment Bells shared her vision, I understood how much this concert would resonate within our community.

“The music was uplifting, vibrant and driven, but always with a celebratory feel.

“The generosity of the musicians and audience alike underlined that most essential purpose of us coming together in one common cause.

“To know it was for such a fantastic cause and a way to pay tribute to people who have been through cancer, only added to the occasion.”

One third of the donations for Cancer Research UK will go specifically to the Carer Support Line which enables people caring for those with cancer to ask for help and seek support.

“I am so lucky with the people that support me day to day, but I know there are a lot of people who don’t have that,” Bells said.

“Some sufferers have just one person who looks after them day and night, week after week. It is relentless and carers in turn need support – I’ve learnt that carers are simply terrible at talking or reaching out as they don’t want to “bother anyone.”

Rachael Hodgkinson, Cancer Research UK Relationship Manager for North-West England, said: “I would like to say a huge thank you for everything everyone did to make this amazing event happen.

“It is not a surprise to me that the event was such a huge success and Cancer Research UK are extremely appreciative of the donation which will help continue the charity’s work.”

The donations have been counted just as pupils at Ellesmere College took on yet another fundraising challenge.

The Lower School pupils in years seven and eight completed a 2.2km sponsored walk last week (JULY 4) to raise money for Nightingale House, a hospice that provides specialist palliative care services for people with life-limiting illnesses across Wrexham, Oswestry, Whitchurch and further afield.

Pupils handed over more than £1,300 to the charity with another cheque presentation.

For more information about music at Ellesmere College visit

To donate to Bells Cancer Research UK giving page visit: