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WHAT'SCHEW WHAT'S CHEW PUSSYCAT! How maverick Welsh doctor keeps The Voice in shape.


SIR Tom Jones has revealed he has a pioneering 19th Century Welsh surgeon and his unique throat pastilles to thank for keeping his extraordinary voice in pristine condition throughout four decades as a singing superstar.

It's not only 70-year-old Sir Tom who swears by the medicine man's long-lasting creation - most of Wales' major singing stars never leave home without them too.

In testimonies on the Vocalzone website, Stereophonics' Kelly Jones, Katherine Jenkins, Cerys Matthews, Lostprophets' Ian Watkins and The Last Republic's Johnnie Owen all sing the praises of the little black pastille.

They're not alone. Vocalzone has become the music industry's best hidden secret - stars like Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Jay-z, Jarvis Cocker, Bette Midler, David Bowie and Robbie Williams also order regular supplies from the manufacturer Kestrel Medical Ltd, a small Devon-based, family-run company.

Speaking exclusively to Wales on Sunday, Sir Tom - who releases his new album Praise & Blame on July 26 - revealed: "I've been using these things since the '60s. An old singer in the Welsh clubs told me about them.

"The company sent me a letter last year saying did I know it was invented by a Welsh ear nose and throat doctor. He had a practice in London but he came from West Wales.

"Apparently, he looked after Caruso. When I first bought these things they used to come in a tin and they had on there 'made for one man - Caruso'.

"They send me free boxes anyway so that's always handy!" William Lloyd, who was born in 1872 and died aged 73, was an ear nose and throat specialist at The London Hospital.

He was originally from Carmarthen and invented Vocalzone in the early 1900s especially for Italian tenor Enrico Caruso, then the biggest star on the planet.

Caruso was performing at Covent Garden and was struggling with a tired voice when Lloyd answered his call for help.

The singing superstar was so impressed with the result that he retained the Welshman who became his travelling companion whenever he was touring.

Vocalzone Throat Pastilles have been on sale in the UK ever since and are still manufactured to the same formula used for Caruso.

They are highly-prized by singers, speakers and anyone who relies on their voice professionally. "He had his work cut out with Caruso because he smoked like a chimney, even on stage," said George Ponsford of Kestrel Medical sales and marketing director.

Vocalzone was William Lloyd's invention and it was originally m a n u f a ctured VOCAL SUPPORT: Sir Tom's favourite pastille in a factory in Carmarthen by his brother Thomas Lloyd, who was a chemist.

"William Lloyd was very well connected. He knew all the leading figures in entertainment and politics at the time. He was very good friends with former Prime Minister David Lloyd George," said Mr Ponsford.

"He was very proud of his Welsh heritage and raised funds for Welsh troops during the first world war by staging a show at The Alhambra Theatre, which is now the Odeon cinema, Leicester Square.

"When he died, he left the company to his nieces and nephews. Sometime after it was sold to a US company who kept hold of it for many years.

"My father was working as a sales agent for them in the UK and wanted to set up on his own, so he bought the brand from them and launched Kestrel Medical.

"Not many people outside the entertainment industry know about Vocalzone. It's a word-of-mouth phenomena.

"The secret of Vocalzone's success is that it contains myrrh - which acts as an anti-inflammatory to get rid of any hoarseness without deadening the vocal chords like other throat pastilles which have an anaesthetic effect, so singers know they are fast-acting without affecting their voices.

"And we have a Welsh ear, nose and throat to thank for our continued success!" READ AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SIR TOM IN NEXT FRIDAY'S BOX OFFICE - ONLY IN OUR SISTER PAPER, THE WESTERN MAIL Tony Blair revealed as a fan of Sir Tom SEX Bomb Sir Tom Jones might be surprised to hear he has an unlikely fan - ex-PM Tony Blair.

According to Welsh celebrity photographer Cambridge Jones, the former prime minister asked if Sir Tom could join them for a photo shoot at an upmarket country pad where he and his wife Cherie were planning to pose for their Christmas card.

The news sparked rumours that the Voice from the Valleys - who famously had a festive hit with Cerys Matthews singing Baby It's Cold Outside - might make an appearance on the Blairs' card.

Their 2008 card drew criticism for apparently airbrushing the Middle East peace envoy's teeth to make them look brighter, while the couple were also criticised when they were still in Downing Street for including their children on a Christmas card.

Speaking to Wales on Sunday yesterday Cambridge Jones, who counts Al Pacino, Sir Anthony Hopkins and The Queen among his famous subjects, said: "I've been trying to get hold of Sir Tom for an exhibition I'm working on of 30 of Wales' best-known faces, which is going to tour around America.

"I mentioned this to Tony while we were planning what we could do for his and Cherie's Christmas card photo shoot and he got really excited.

"He said he would be interested to meet him and why didn't I get him to come down to the country house where we were doing the shoot? "I got straight in touch with Tom's agent about it, but unfortunately Tony got called away to the Middle East so we've had to postpone."

The photographer from Llanidloes, who was responsible for the Blairs' 2009 card, is hoping all is not lost and said he would try to arrange the meet for another date.

His current project, Talking Heads, is expected to open in the Wales Millennium Centre later this year.

He has already photographed stars including Shirley Bassey, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Cerys Matthews, Bonnie Tyler, and Matthew Rhys for the exhibition, by the Assembly Government.

He added: "For me, the most important thing is getting them to relax and trust me.

"Shirley Bassey was definitely one of the most fun people to work with. She was up for doing anything. Eventually we even had her rolling around on the kitchen table - it was a lot of fun."


FELLOW FAN: Katherine Jenkins 'BOMB' SHELL: Tony Blair SNAPPER: Cambridge Jones
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 18, 2010
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