Sounds of ukuleles filled Niagara-on-the-Lake’s town chambers Monday night.
A local group of ukulele players and singers, The NOTL Ukesters, were invited to a council meeting to perform the national anthem and accept a certificate for their outstanding community volunteer work.
Alan Ash, one of the founders of the group, thanked town council for their recognition.
“It’s really an unexpected honour for us and it’s just a thrill,” he said. “What you get from doing community service is just in itself enough.”
The group also performed Neil Young’s “Long May You Run.”
“This tune is actually dedicated to you guys, town council, because we consider you our dream team,” said Ash.
“It was a very gratifying evening for all of our Ukesters, both those that were in attendance and those who were either watching from the live stream or just heard about it,” Judith Tsaros, NOTL Ukesters event co-ordinator, told The Lake Report. “This recognition from our town council was another juicy example of what a great community looks like.”
The group was established in 2012 by two local residents, Alan Ash and Doug Widdicombe.
A small ensemble that started with only seven people has 241 registered members now.
Ukesters vary in ages, from 20 to 93, and come from many parts of the Niagara region, including St. Catharines, Thorold, Welland, Niagara Falls, Fonthill and Grimsby. Some even come from as far as Hamilton, Fort Erie, Toronto and Buffalo.
Money received for performances as well as the monthly membership costs of $15 go toward different charities across the region, said Tsaros.
In 2018, the Ukesters contributed over $4,000 to local charities, including Newark Neighbours, Red Roof Retreat, Hospice Niagara, Pelham Centre, Niagara Region Sexual Assault Centre and Niagara Workers Welcome.
The group regularly performs at area events, homes and facilities such as Stone Road Village, Hospice Niagara, Gilmore Lodge, Pioneer Eldercare, Royal Henley, and the Strawberry Festival. The Ukesters also donated ukuleles and music stands to an entire Grade 5 class at Grimsby Elementary School.
The group meets every Sunday for sing-along sessions at the NOTL Community Centre from 3 to 5 p.m.