A GROUP of local young singers have returned home safely following a historic and eventful trip to South Africa.

Esyllt Thomas of Eglwyswrw, James Hope of Nevern, Maisie Thompson of Cilgerran, Molly Jones of Drefach Felindre, and Mari Phillips from Newcastle Emlyn travelled to Cape Town with Only Kids Aloud.

The 65-strong children's choir was performing in the country as part of a special programme to celebrate 20 years of democracy in South Africa.

But the visit hit the headlines on Monday when many of the children fell ill on the plane, prompting a large emergency response upon their return to Heathrow Airport.

A spokesperson for the London Ambulance Service said: “At 7.41 we received reports of children unwell on a flight into Heathrow Airport. Four ambulance crews, one emergency bike responder and the hazardous area response team were sent to the aircraft.

“A total of 60 children aged between 10 and 14 were treated at the scene with 11 sent to hospital. The children were complaining of diarrhoea and vomiting.”

The children were discharged after a few hours.

A spokesperson for the airline Emirates, said: “A small group of passengers who transited via Dubai and flew on Emirates to London Heathrow on 5 May informed our crew that they were unwell during the flight.

"They were given medical attention on arrival. The affected passengers were part of the same travel group who began their journey in Cape Town. We are providing the affected passengers with all possible support, and are working closely with the local authorities to investigate the issue.”

Bet Davies, head of corporate affairs at the Wales Millennium Centre, who had travelled with the children, told the Western Telegraph: “All the children are fine and are on their way home to Wales.

“They had suffered from a combination of travel sickness, and not eating or drinking enough.

“They all had a fantastic time in South Africa; they saw the penguins and visited Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was a prisoner. They were given a tour by a former politician who had been jailed there.”

She added: “The children have brought back drums, and we’re now thinking of forming Only Drums Aloud!”

They took to the stage at the Artscape Theatre Centre on Friday and Saturday night to sing a special composition by Welsh composer Paul Mealor. On the Saturday they were joined by renowned Welsh opera star Bryn Terfel.

She said: “The gala concerts were a sell out on both nights, and the children received a standing ovation.

“Bryn loved the experience of singing with the talent of the future, and former Welsh rugby legend Scott Gibbs, who lives in South Africa, also came down to support the children. He said he was so proud to see them.”