TRIBUTES have been paid to a “larger than life” Chepstow opera singer who died after collapsing at a town council meeting.

Karl Daymond, 52, was taken seriously ill on Wednesday night before being rushed to the Royal Gwent Hospital, where he died.

A much-loved figure within the community, he had previously performed for royalty alongside the late legendary Welsh actor Victor Spinetti.

Classically trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and National Opera Studio, Mr Daymond sang as a principal baritone with the Welsh and English National Operas on renowned stages across the world.

But he was best-known in the area for leading the Chepstow Castle Singing Club, the female-only Chepstow Chatelaines choir, and Usk Singing Club.

Under his stewardship, all three choirs had performed at last year’s National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny.

Mr Daymond also ran the Forest of Dean Singing Club and the Duke’s Yard Singing Club.

Dr Glyn Jones, a family friend, and tenor in the Chepstow Castle club, said: “The man was a shining light in Chepstow and the whole area and was the star leader of five singing clubs.

“Karl was a motivator and he got the best out of people. He enjoyed seeing people enjoying their singing and the singing club has two very important rules.

“We were never critical of anyone else’s singing and were there to enjoy. Every Thursday night was a breath of fresh air.”

Speaking of the impact of the sudden death on the community, Dr Jones added: “It’s just like a dark cloud. It’s basically the loss of a local star.

“In his background, he has performed at the top of the professional game and was and was able to instil that professionalism in ordinary people. He had this human touch that reached everybody and his efforts in his community were second to none.”

Mr Daymond also served as the choirmaster of the St. David’s Hospice Harmony Choir and in July, he led the group in its first public performance at the Celtic Manor Resort.

Emma Saysell, chief executive of the hospice, said that he had made a “remarkable” impact on the lives of patients, and described him as “extraordinary and inspirational.”

Mr Daymond’s reach far extended the singing clubs and his presence and support was felt by other community groups, including the Chepstow to Tintern and Wye Valley Cycle Path project.

A group statement on the group’s Facebook page read: “Let us take a minute silence and stop what we are doing to remember him, he died young and was a wonderful warm figure of a man. Karl was an ardent supporter of the project. I light my candles to him”.

Tributes also came from town councillors, many of whom were among the 80-plus people present at the meeting.

Cllr Paul Pavia said: “He had immense energy and a sense of fun and that was infectious”, while Chepstow mayor, Cllr Dale Rooke, added: “Karl was a larger than life character within the community, he will be sorely missed.

Mr Daymond had been due to speak on the future running of Chepstow Drill Hall before becoming short of breath around 15 minutes into the meeting.

First-aiders initially attended to him after he collapsed outside the council chambers before paramedics arrived.