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Loneliness is the scourge of modern society and it’s examined, along with finding friendship – that is explored in a new opera – Shoulder to Shoulder from the acclaimed company Swansea City Opera and will feature at the Torch Theatre on Sunday 30 October as part of its Wales tour.

Through outreach work in 2020 – 2021, Swansea City Opera developed a partnership with Men’s Sheds Cymru,  which is part of the internationally acclaimed movement founded in Australia which improves men’s well-being. Men’s Sheds Cymru supports men experiencing, and at risk of, loneliness and social isolation helping individuals through social activities. 

The Office for National Statistics in 2021 reported that around 3.3 million people living in Britain describe themselves as ‘chronically lonely’ or ‘feeling lonely all the time.’* Men often do not have the support networks that women commonly have and they may struggle to talk face to face about issues they are facing. The Men’s Shed movement is based on the understanding that men are more likely to help themselves and attend something they have set up or have some control over. Hence ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’ - recognising that attending a meeting, engaging in activities or shared tasks, and getting organised over a cup of tea can have a positive impact on loneliness, isolation and mental wellbeing as people take back control and enjoy time spent together.

The music for Shoulder to Shoulder was composed by Lenny Sayers with words and songs written by Brendan Wheatley and all are based on shedders’ stories, ranging from the hilarious to moving and thought-provoking tales.

Shoulder to Shoulder’s ensemble for the Torch Theatre performance features members of Haverfordwest Operatic Society as well as professional singers and musicians, mainly from Wales. Many are singers in major opera houses, companies, and orchestras, including the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Welsh National Opera; English National Opera; Opera North; Scottish Opera, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

The role of Gwen in Shoulder to Shoulder, will now be played by the very talented singer Rebecca Goulden who has performed with the company many times, including singing the lead roles in Faust and La Boheme at the Torch. From her Pembrokeshire roots, Rebecca has gone on to sing at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Glyndebourne and internationally with Opera Köln (Cologne).

Ben Lloyd, Exec Director of the Torch Theatre said -

“We share Swansea City Opera’s vision of making opera and the arts accessible to everyone and the importance of arts companies working with local communities.  Shoulder to Shoulder is an exciting addition to this year’s programme.”

Swansea City Opera’s Brendan Wheatley and Shoulder to Shoulder’s librettist says: “The stories of the ‘Shedders’ are truly inspiring.  There are stories of men overcoming tremendous adversity ranging from relationship breakdown and bereavement, from ill-health to redundancy by being part of a Men’s Shed.

“Audiences will find Shoulder to Shoulder moving, thought-provoking, uplifting, and funny.  We believe opera should be relevant and accessible.  There’s something for everyone, whether you’re an experienced opera goer or an opera novice.

Developed in partnership with the National group - Men’s Sheds Cymru, of which there are now over 70 groups, Pembrokeshire currently has Men’s Sheds in

Milford Haven
Pembroke Dock and

More information about the Pembrokeshire Men’s Sheds groups can be found at

Shoulder to Shoulder is supported by Arts Council Wales, the Garfield Weston Foundation, National Lottery Awards For All Wales, Tŷ Cerdd, and the Friends of Swansea City Opera.

Shoulder to Shoulder will visit the Torch Theatre on Sunday, 30 October at 7.30pm. Tickets are £14.00 / £12.50 concessions. To find out more or to book, call 01646 695267 or email


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