Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE
Lord Lieutenant of Gwent
Photo: Chris Tinsley
We are delighted that Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE, Lord Lieutenant of Gwent since 2016, has agreed to be our patron. As The King’s representative he is the frst citizen of the County of Gwent. In ancient times the Lord Lieutenant would be responsible for calling people to arms to fght for the king. Nowadays he deputises for the monarch on special occasions, and is in attendance if a member of the royal family visits the county. He also recommends people for honours and for The King’s awards for voluntary work.
From our point of view Brigadier Aitken is particularly suited to taking an interest in Monmouth Choral Society because he is a life-long musician and singing enthusiast. He was born in Jamaica but moved to Cwmbran when he was 8 years old. He went to boarding school at St George’s in Windsor where he developed a love of music. After going to Oxford as a choral scholar, singing in Queen’s College Chapel, he went into the army. The singing carried on, often with squaddies singing in the back of trucks on the way to exercises. Wherever he travelled in the army there was music. In Northern Ireland, when bored during a ceasefre, he formed a male voice choir by simply ordering a hundred soldiers to turn up and sing. This culminated in the formation of a Welsh male voice choir singing at the Festival of Remembrance in the Albert Hall in front of The Queen.
Afer leaving the army in 2011 Brigadier Aitken went to work at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama as operations manager, and then ran Music in Hospitals Wales, a charity which organises live music concerts for people who are sick, elderly or disabled. In Wales they do up to 500 concerts per year, using music to cheer people up. He has also worked for the mental health charity Hafal, supporting veterans’ mental health projects. Brigadier Aitken has ofered to put us in touch with Music in Hospitals if we would like to fnd out more about it. We will be inviting him to attend our concerts and workshops. He sings tenor. We look forward to getting to know him.