Choir Director awarded MBE

Choir Director awarded MBE

Choir Director awarded MBE

The founder and Artistic Director of Barnsley Youth Choir, Mathew Wright, has been named in the Queen’s 2020 New Years Honours List. Mathew has been appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to young people and music.

Mathew, 45, is well known across the region and has worked in a number of roles in education. He was a former member of Wakefield Cathedral Choir following the award of a music scholarship to Queen Elizabeth Grammar School and subsequently graduated from Bretton Hall College going on to complete a PGCE in Music Education where he gained a commendation. He was recognised as an outstanding teacher (AST) early in his career and has worked in a variety of roles in Barnsley schools including as a Vice Principal and Advisory Teacher. He currently works for the Astrea Academy Trust as a Deputy Director of Education that serves schools in South Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire. Mathew, Eleanor Wright and Keith Norton established Barnsley Youth Choir in 2009. The choir now involves over 450 children from the local community and has developed an outstanding international reputation, winning 8 first prizes and gold medals in international competitions including the World Choir Games 2014 (Riga), the European Choir Games 2015 (Magdeburg) and the European Choir Games 2017 (Riga). BYC is currently ranked 5th in the World in the Interkultur World Rankings - the highest ranked choir from Great Britain.

Mathew is a member of the international jury and has worked in some of the most important competitions in the world including the World Choir Games in Sochi, Russia (2016) and Pretoria, South Africa (2018). He has worked with and led some of the world’s finest choirs and soloists and is in demand internationally as a choral clinician. He has worked as a workshop leader and coach in France, Sweden, Russia, South Africa and Spain as well as throughout the UK and has taken Barnsley Youth Choir on numerous international tours.

Earlier this year Mathew was appointed as a representative for Great Britain on the World Choir Council. Mathew’s impact was recognised locally at the 2014 Proud of Barnsley Awards where he won a special award for services to the community and BYC was awarded the exceptional achievement award. Barnsley Youth Choir has won a number of awards since it was founded including, most notably, the Queens Award for Voluntary Service in 2017 which recognised the outstanding work that the large volunteer team are involved in.


Mathew has said

“I am humbled that people think me worthy of such recognition. I feel privileged to be a teacher and to have worked alongside thousands of exceptional young people and skilled professionals over the last 20 years and serve this wonderful community. I am grateful to employers who have recognised the importance of my choral work and have provided me with the flexibility that has been so important. I would also like to thank my family, particularly Eleanor - a driving force behind the choir, who have made so many sacrifices to make this work possible. Finally this award reflects on the entire team at Barnsley Youth Choir that I am privileged to work alongside, most notably Ann Wroe and Yvonne Worsley. This exceptional team work selflessly and tirelessly, and make such a difference to the lives of children and young people in this community. I am very grateful to be recognised and delighted that the work of Barnsley Youth Choir has been acknowledged.”


Ann Wroe (Trustee and President of BYC) has said

What an amazing achievement and so justly deserved to someone who has never accepted recognition for his unbelievably hard work over the last 10 years with Barnsley Youth Choir and in the Barnsley community. A visionary who has on numerous occasions made the impossible possible for so many young people. 

The Award could not have been given to a more loyal or deserving person. An inspirational, motivational and caring person who works tirelessly and selflessly to provide incredible life changing opportunities for the young people of Barnsley ensuring that they excel in their ambitions to succeed.

A very humble person, but I know that every person involved in BYC family will feel so proud and burst with pride at his Award”.



Yvonne Worsley (Trustee and Chairperson of BYC) has said

“I am thrilled that Mat has been recognised for the wonderful work he does with young people.  Mat is totally committed to ensuring young people become the best they can be and works tirelessly to ensure they are given opportunities to work with exceptional leaders and have experiences that will shape their future. 

What Mat has achieved alongside the volunteer team of Barnsley Youth Choir is something very special. BYC is an organisation where young people feel safe and are encouraged to appreciate people’s differences. They perform with such passion and pride which is down to the brilliant leadership of Mathew Wright.

Mat is so deserving of this award. I am delighted he has been recognised and feel extremely proud of the difference he makes to so many peoples lives ”