FEW FUW members watching the confident way their leader chairs a large-scale meeting or appears on television realise that the Montgomeryshire sheep farmer once suffered from terrible shyness.
This changed the direction of his life by stifling his ambition to be a professional singer. But, for the last 12 years, he has been half of The Two Gareths, a successful amateur duo that performs up to three times a week – except in the lambing season.
“It all started when I was asked by Megan Owen, a neighbouring farmer’s wife who knew that I liked singing, to perform a solo in her chapel,” Gareth recalls.
“I somehow overcame my nervousness and, as I result, I later teamed up with my non-farming friend Gareth Griffiths. Megan then agreed to be our accompanist.”
Mr Vaughan’s rich baritone blends well with his partner’s tenor voice, and he has an extensive collection of jokes and anecdotes, which he delivers in a laconic style in both English and Welsh.
The support of his wife Audrey and family, especially in running their Bancyfelin Farm at Dolfor, gives him the time to rehearse and expand a repertoire of songs that ranges from traditional Welsh airs through popular and comic songs to Elvis Presley ballads. “We sing to a wide range of people and try to adapt the programmes to suit,” he says. “There is always a very busy spell during the Christmas festivities, when venues range from parties to carol concerts.”
Recently the duo entertained more than 200 stockmen at the end of the first day of the Welsh Winter Fair. A week later, when Farmlife caught up with them, they were performing for appreciative members of a senior citizens group enjoying their Christmas dinner.
To illustrate his determination to continue singing while holding the union presidency, Mr Vaughan went ahead with that concert even though it meant arriving home about midnight, then getting up at 4am to catch a train to meet DEFRA minister Lord Whitty in London.
“We all get tremendous pleasure from performing, and with the help of my two friends I hope to keep the singing side going throughout my spell in office, though a few bookings have to be turned down,” he says.
Most shows last about an hour, and the duo gets many repeat bookings. Gareth jokes that because they do not charge, the price is always right.
Many bookings are for charity fund-raising events, and Mr Vaughan is particularly proud of helping the Noah’s Ark Hospice, Bronglais Hospital, the Air Ambulance Service and chapel and church renovation projects.
He regrets he did not overcome the shyness that prevented him singing in public as a child and young man. Perhaps with internationally acclaimed baritone Bryn Terfyl – another Welsh farmer’s son – in mind, he often wonders what might have been.