IT STARTED amidst humble beginnings in the front room of a Newport home, but 70 years later The City of Newport Male Choir is still going strong.

And to celebrate seven decades of performing at locations all over the world, the group have set themselves a challenge to increase membership from 36 to 70 by the end of the year.

Founded in 1943 by a band of 25 members, the choir was formed to help raise the spirits and morale of troops and people of Newport during the Second World War.

They met for the first time in the front room of a home in Colne Street, near Rodney Parade, and haven’t looked back since.

Originally named Newport Male Voice Choir, they changed their namein 2006 to commemorate Newport being granted city status in 2001.

Their talents have taken them around the world and many have visited Germany, Belgium, Holland, Canada and Ireland to perform.

In 1990 they joined choirs from around the world to sing at the World Choir 10,000 Voices at the National Stadium in Cardiff, alongside Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Tom Jones and Dennis O’Neill and they remain the only choir to sing at the British Embassy in Paris.

The group, aged between 22 and 84, have raised countless thousands of pounds for charity and claim there is no one they won’t sing for.

And whether they are performing to a dozen pensioners at an old people’s complex or thousands at London’s Royal Albert Hall they always put in 100 per cent effort.

They enjoy performing everything from Welsh hymns and West End show classics to pop hits from the likes of Queen and Robbie Williams.

The choir once made their own record when they recorded Elvis’ Love Me Tender in 1977 at London’s Battersea PowerStation with The Who guitarist John Entwistle, whose father Burt was a member of the choir.

The group regularly travel the length and breadth of Britain to sing at weddings are a constant at major Newport events where they often team up with the city's youth choir Cor Casnewydd for events.

Now they are encouraging more men aged 16 and above to join their ranks.

Chairman Colin Shurmer said members can offer a warm welcome and loyal companionship, while Albert Jones said singing with the choir was “like a bug - once you try it you can’t stop”.

Choir president Cllr Allan Morris said the men were Newport finest ambassadors, adding: “They portray an image of the city that no one else can, they look after each other and their families.”

The group will perform their 70th anniversary concert at St Patrick's Church, Cromwell Road, on September 20. Call Colin Shurmer on 07788113356 or George Cairns 01633 763834 for tickets costing £5 or information on joining.

Practices are Mondays and Thursday at Pill YMCA from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.