Anglesey’s ‘Willy Wonka’ gets behind charity instrument appeal

Richard Holt owner of Anglesey tearoom and chocolate factory, Melin Llynon, gets behind charity instrument appeal 

Anglesey’s very own ‘Willy Wonka’ and the Chocolate Factory is getting behind an appeal for donations of unwanted musical instruments to support charity Electric Umbrella.

Richard Holt (29), the owner of popular tourist attraction Melin Llynon on the outskirts of the village of Llanddeusant in Anglesey, Wales, the only surviving working windmill in Wales, has kindly offered to act as a ‘Donation Station’ for the charity and he’s calling on local people to drop off their unwanted musical instruments.

Richard, who used to run a tea room at Melin Llynon, started a new venture one year ago during the pandemic and invested in a chocolate-making machinery to ensure the survival of his business. Five members of staff from the tea room were re-trained to protect their jobs and he now runs a chocolate factory and doughnut shop which employs ten people.

Richard has created many different flavours of chocolate, he even recently launched an ‘exploding’ chocolate bar. They also include five prize-winning Copper tickets in every batch of 1,000 bars.

Electric Umbrella, which uses the power of live music to enhance the lives of learning disabled people, aims to collect 1,000 unwanted musical instruments by Christmas.

All donated instruments will be repaired, re-purposed or adapted by the charity so they can be used by members to create unique opportunities for learning disabled people, or they will be sold to raise funds for the charity.

The charity has made some truly amazing instruments such as drum kits that strap on to wheelchairs, banana pianos, and a drill guitar which was invented so that a band member could use his foot to play the instrument.

Richard Holt, owner of Melin Llynon is a keen musician himself and plays electric guitar.

He said: “Playing an instrument has proven to be invaluable to me because it’s the only way I can  fully relax from my demanding work. The gift of playing an instrument will always be useful and I think it’s important that everyone gets this opportunity.

“Electric Umbrella is one of the most unique concepts I have ever heard of. I’ve seen the way they tweak instruments to help people with disabilities to be able to play them and it’s utterly inspiring.

“I love what Electric Umbrella is doing and I’m thrilled to be part of it.”

The Hertfordshire based charity Electric Umbrella (EU) was set up five years ago by Mel Boda and Tom Billington to provide a platform for learning disabled people to enjoy live music, and in doing so challenge the perceptions towards learning disabled people. They organise gigs, operatas, musicals and even festivals.

Electric Umbrella Creative Director and co-founder Mel Boda said:

“We’ve seen an incredible response to our 1,000 Instruments Challenge with over 250 instruments received so far. What’s been especially wonderful is getting members involved, such as our roadie Billy who helps to collect instruments from donation stations.

“I recently visited Melin Llynon with local member Tracy, there’s a lot of magic and creativity there which aligns with the Electric Umbrella approach! We are delighted that they’ve become a donation station for local people, and  we’d urge you to dig out your unwanted instruments and come along”

Tracy Austin (43) from Menai Bridge in Anglesey, Wales, joined Electric Umbrella in February this year after some friends told her about the charity.

Tracy, who has a condition called Syndactyly and a hearing impairment, is a member of the Big Yellow Choir and loves taking part in the Cyber sessions, Open Mic, Singalongs, Breakfast Shows and she’s even co-hosted some EU TV sessions and appeared in a video with Northern Irish singer Sinéad Quinn.

Electric Umbrella member Tracy Austin, said:

“I’ve made so many new friends since I joined Electric Umbrella, it’s brilliant and so much fun.

“I really love singing and this gives me the chance to do that with lots of people.

 “I have a harmonica which is really fun, I think it would be great if every member could get an instrument to play.”

If you don’t live near a Donation Station getting your instrument to Electric Umbrella is easy. Simply register it with them (to allow them to claim gift aid on any sales)and you’ll get details of how to send it for FREE via your local post office.

For more information visit: www.electricumbrella.co.uk/1000