The names of those to be honoured by the Gorsedd of Bards at the Conwy County National Eisteddfod, have been announced.
These honours, presented annually, are an opportunity to recognise individuals from all parts of the country for their achievements and their commitment to Wales, the Welsh language and to their local communities across the whole of Wales. This year’s individuals will be honoured at special ceremonies on the Eisteddfod Maes on Monday 5 August and Friday 9 August.
The son of an Italian prisoner of war, Pierino Algieri, Llanddoged was brought up in the Conwy Valley, learning Welsh forty years ago and bringing up his children in a Welsh-speaking home. Although he has worked as a keeper and warden in the Valley, he made his mark as a gifted landscape photographer. His book, Eidalwr yn Eryri gained national attention, and his work has appeared on the covers of numerous books and CDs.
Menna Baines, Bangor is well-known for her contribution as a journalist, a literary and art historian, and her unfailing commitment to promoting the Welsh language and culture and social welfare in Wales. She has contributed greatly to a wide range of organisations in the Bangor area, including the local community newspaper, Y Goriad, the local language initiative, and the local schools music service.
Berno Brosschot, Pwllheli came to Llŷn from the Netherlands thirty years ago, and immediately became a part of the local community. As with so many people from Europe who have moved here to Wales, he has embraced our language and culture, and has been an integral part of the local community newspaper, Llanw Llŷn for many years, leading on the intricate work of designing and setting the paper. He recently translated a film on Cwrw Llŷn into Dutch, as a means of introducing Welsh history and culture to visitors from his native country.
Elin Angharad Davies
Elin Angharad Davies, Ysbyty Ifan is a talented musician who has made a huge contribution over the years. She teaches music at Ysgol y Creuddyn, conducts CoRwst, and is a joint coach of this year’s Eisteddfod Choir. She is an experienced cerdd dant coach and arranger, and regularly adjudicates at the National Eisteddfod, the Urdd and the Cerdd Dant Festival. She is currently co-ordinating the Llanrwst Harp Project, raising awareness of the history of the harp in the Conwy Valley by organising workshops in schools across the area.
Euros Rhys Evans
Euros Rhys Evans, Barry is a conductor, musician and well-known composer, who has given years of service both to his local area and to his country. He was Head of Music at Ysgol Gyfun Llanhari before embarking on a freelance career, composing, arranging, producing and directing music. He has composed the music for a number of highly acclaimed TV series, winning a BAFTA Cymru award for his score for the film Streic in 1996. He was one of the coaches and conductors of the National Eisteddfod Choir in 2012, and is the organist at Capel y Tabernacl, Cardiff.
Catrin Finch, Pentyrch is one of Wales’ foremost musicians, performing as a harpist at venues across the world. Originally from Llan-non, Ceredigion, she passed her grade eight harp examination at only nine years of age, gaining the highest mark for any pupil throughout the UK. She has recorded and released an extensive output, including works by composers from every period, as well as a series of folk songs from Wales and a special project with the Senegalese musician Seckou Keita. She is also very much involved with the Catrin Finch Academy, arranging many key events, including the Harp Summer School.
Helen Gibbon, Capel Dewi formerly taught Religious Education, but music has always been a key element in her life. She has won the Soprano Solo at the National Eistedddfod four times, and has been a singing coach to both children and adults, with her school choirs winning many accolades at the Urdd Eisteddfod. She established the Tŷ Tawe Choir in 1990, and remains its conductor, almost thirty years later. She is passionate about music, and is totally dedicated to maintaining and preserving Welsh musical and cultural traditions wihin her own community.
John Jones, Tudweiliog is known to one and all as the ‘John’ in John ac Alun, the much-loved duo from north Wales. His music has attracted thousands of followers, and along with singing partner, Alun, he has supported many local and national charities. His roots are firmly planted in Pen Llŷn, an area which has featured prominently in the duo’s repertoire. John ac Alun still tour regularly throughout Wales and further afield, bringing pleasure to audiences of all ages.
Co. Kildaire in Ireland is the current home of Bethan Kilfoil, Newbridge, who is news editor at RTE. Originally from Mold, she used to present BBC news programmes in Wales, also spending time in London, and then in Brussels as Europe reporter for BBC Cymru. Although she has now left Wales, she still contributes to news programmes in Wales, giving her own balanced perspective on life in Ireland. She also contributes lively monthly articles to the Welsh magazine, Barn.
Geraint Løvgreen, Caernarfon has made a major contribution to the Welsh pop scene since the 1970s, and is a familiar voice on popular programmes such as Talwrn y Beirdd. He is an extremely productive composer and performer, and is highly respected by both poets and musicians. He is an experienced translator whose service is in great demand. A staunch Welshman, he has built his entire career and family life around the Welsh language and culture.
Helena Miguelez-Carballeira (to be admitted in 2020)
Originally from Galicia, Helena Miguelez-Carballeira, Bangor now lectures in Spanish Studies at Bangor University. She has succeeded in deepening our understanding here in Wales of Galician history and culture, and she is also an expert on the life and politics of the Basque Country and Catalonia. She has contributed extensively to the field of translation studies, and it is chiefly thanks to her that the Welsh language is now an integral part of international discussions relating to that field. She is a shining example of how international scholars who have a sense of our culture and knowledge of our language can enrich the life of our nation.
We now have the opportunity to honour the other half of the popular duo John and Alun, as Alun Roberts, Tudweiliog is also honoured this year. With his musical partner, Alun has been performing for years, and together they have inspired many artists, starting them on their careers and nurturing them to appear in front of an audience. A host of musicians have had memorable experiences as part of their band, travelling to Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee. For twenty years, John ac Alun have presented a popular Sunday night show on Radio Cymru, and they have also starred in a number of television series.
Gwenda Roberts, Sarn has made a valuable contribution to her local area for years. She is the clerk of Botwnnog Community Council and has been secretary of the Llŷn Sheep Society for 35 years, retiring as a JP last year after fifteen years’ service. Her lifetime contribution to Capel Hebron, Llangwnnadl, is to be celebrated – having been an organist for over fifty years and a Sunday School teacher for many years. She is also a deacon and has worked tirelessly as treasurer for a quarter of a century. Last year, she celebrated her half century as the official organist of the Rhoshirwaun Interdenominational Preaching Association.
Meurig Williams, Cardiff has been active for many years in the traditional music scene in Wales, his main aim being to spread the popularity of Welsh folk music and the way it is traditionally presented and sung. He is the chairman of Clera and has contributed extensively to the development of Tŷ Gwerin on the National Eisteddfod field. His zealous mission to promote traditional music continues, enabling young and old amateur musicians to sing and perform our unique melodies together publicly.
Vivian Parry Williams
Vivian Parry Williams, Blaenau Ffestiniog's contribution to the cultural and social life of his area is considerable. He is an expert on the history of Ffestiniog and Nant Conwy, and has extensively researched that field, especially the period from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. He has contributed many articles to various publications, taught night classes on local history, and is a popular lecturer across the whole of north Wales. He is also a talented poet and author, and is a regular winner at eisteddfodau, including the National Eisteddfod.
For a decade and more, Patrick Young, Llan Ffestiniog has ensured that opera through the medium of Welsh has been given its rightful status. He established OPRA Cymru with the aim of taking opera to every part of Wales, both rural and urban, giving audiences the opportunity to enjoy works by Bizet, Verdi, Rossini and many others in recent years. The company’s most exciting achievement to date has been the commissioning and staging of a brand new opera by Gareth Glyn and Mererid Hopwood, Wythnos yng Nghymru Fydd. Patrick came to Wales so that his children could be raised through the medium of Welsh, and he was one of the finalists in the Welsh Learner of the Year competition at the 2015 Eisteddfod.
Originally from Penmachno, Christine Boomsma, Melbourne moved to Australia when she was nine years old, and although she has lived there for over half a century, she remains staunchly Welsh. She is responsible for the important link between the National Eisteddfod and the Welsh Church in Melbourne, with the winner of the David Ellis Memorial Prize invited annually to perform as part of the St David’s Day celebrations there. She was the President of the Wales and the World celebrations at the National Eisteddfod in 2009.
Jonathan Davies, Bancyfelin plays at centre for the Welsh rugby team, taking a prominent role in this year's Six Nations Championship. Whenever he plays for Wales and for the Scarlets, he always inspires the team, organising the defence, breaking craftily and passing intelligently. His fellow players voted him Player of the Series on the Lions tour in 2017. His contribution to the national team is invaluable, and it is always a pleasure to listen to him being interviewed in Welsh on radio and television at the end of a game.
Gareth Evans, Penmachno is Head of Maths at Ysgol y Creuddyn, but his work has helped pupils studying mathematics across the whole of Wales. He has written and produced many attractive and effective digital resources which aim to educate and inspire pupils, using the internet, videos and social media to share them. His YouTube videos have been watched over 300,000 times. All these high-quality resources are through the medium of Welsh and are available free of charge, thus easing the burden on maths teachers across Wales.
Margot Ann Phillips Griffith (to be admitted in 2020)
Originally from Pont-iets, Margot Ann Phillips Griffith, Wellington moved to New Zealand almost fifty years ago. However, she returns to Wales annually and is a great supporter of the National Eisteddfod. She has been President of the Wellington Welsh Society many times, inspiring the establishing of a poetry and a short story competition for St David’s Day. She organises a reception for the Welsh rugby team whenever they visit Wellington, and is responsible for arranging that the Welsh flag is flown outside the New Zealand Parliament building on March 1st every year.
Glenys Margaret Hughes
Glenys Margaret Hughes, Rhuthun has dedicated her life to promoting the Welsh language and inspiring Welsh learners. During her long career, she taught Welsh as a second language in Denbigh and Mold before being appointed Head of Welsh at Yale College, Wrexham. Having produced and co-produced many valuable teaching resources for Welsh learners, she taught Welsh to members of North Wales Police on her retirement, producing much-needed resources to help them with their work. She regularly volunteers with the Samaritans, and endeavours to attract more Welsh speakers to join the ranks of this valuable service.
Buddug Jones, Penrhyn Bay is well-known to generations of Eisteddfod-goers as a popular and much-respected volunteer and supervisor over a period of very many years. With the Eisteddfod in her own area this year, she is chair of the Hospitality Committee, secretary of the Llandudno Appeal Committee, and a dedicated member of the Shw’mae Su’mae Welsh Learners Committee. She chairs Menter Iaith Ardal y Creuddyn, and for almost twenty years has been a leading member of the Urdd Eisteddfod’s Supervisors Group.
Grace Emily Jones
Grace Emily Jones, Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr is originally from New Zealand, but she moved to Wales after falling in love with Llion, a sheep-shearer from Nebo, Llanrwst. Having decided to learn Welsh, she turned to the ‘Say Something in Welsh’ app, and within a very short time was conversing in her new language. With her background in sports and education, she became a member of the Bala women’s netball team, and then went on to qualify as an instructor, specifically for Rugby Union. She now trains the Nant Conwy Rugby Club girls under 15 team and the North Wales Rugby ladies under 18 team – all on a voluntary basis and making good use of her Welsh.
For thirty years, Robin Jones, Penrhyndeudraeth has been a staunch supporter of the National Eisteddfod, volunteering annually in every corner of Wales. However, Robin also works hard within his local area and community, and is a well-known compere – specifically at Eisteddfod Stesion, Trawsfynydd for thirty years, and also at the Urdd and YFC eisteddfodau. More recently, he has been a volunteer at Yr Ysgwrn in Trawsfynydd, the area where he grew up. Here is a man who has contributed extensively in his local community.
Beverley Lennon, Barry moved here from Brixton, having stuck a pin in a map to see where life would take her following her mother’s death. She immediately fell in love with the Welsh language and began listening regularly to Radio Cymru and watching S4C. In only two short years, she managed to attain an A* grade at GCSE level Welsh and an A at A level, and after graduating, she took up a teaching post at Cantonian High School in Cardiff. She contributed regularly to radio programmes before moving on to present the series Cam Ymlaen for Welsh learners as well as her own programme on Radio Cymru. Recently, she was nominated as one of the 100 most influential women in Wales.
Welsh learner Malcolm Llywelyn, Brecon has made it his mission to support those who are learning the language today. An enthusiastic supporter of the language and culture of Wales for many years, he has worked tirelessly as a member of several committees and institutions, predominantly in the Merthyr area. Now retired, he still holds classes and leads activities for Welsh learners in his area, contributes regularly to his local paper, and has published several booklets on local history. For fifty years, his dedication to the language and culture of Wales has been greatly respected and appreciated by very many people.
When Soar Chapel, Merthyr Tudful shut its doors for the last time, Lis McLean immediately went to work in order to create a Welsh Centre within her community. Thanks to her unstinting enthusiasm, the local Language Initiative was able to access grants and monetary support in order to create a modern centre with wonderful resources. Today, it is home to several societies and organisations which work to promote the language and culture of Wales, and is key to the future of the language locally. The centre is proof of the persistence of the Welsh language in Merthyr, especially with Lis McLean at the helm.
Phillip Moore, Bangor set about learning Welsh specifically in order to help others. Originally from Barbados, he moved to Wales in 2010 after specializing in ear, nose and throat surgery. He started work at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor and immediately began learning Welsh as he realised that patients would be happier discussing their symptoms and problems in their mother tongue. He made excellent and rapid progress, and for many years now he has been consulting with patients and their families in Welsh, ensuring that everyone can feel relaxed during what can be complex discussions.
Tudur Owen, Y Felinheli has won the respect of people who are deeply rooted in traditional Welsh culture as well as those Welsh speakers who have not yet become fully immersed in it. He is an invaluable ambassador in an age when many Welsh speakers turn to England and the English language for their entertainment. His talent in the field of comedy has earned him a reputation across the UK, and he has also made an impression at international and influential comedy festivals such as the Edinburgh Fringe. All this without compromising his Welshness, his background or his respect for his country and language.
Earlier this year, Ken Owens Pontyberem became a national hero as part of the Welsh Grand Slam winning rugby team at the end of the Six Nations Championship. On a day-to-day basis, he is a member of the Scarlets team and a hooker for his region and country. On the field, he inspires his team-mates with his uncompromising tackles and his determined charges. He is an eloquent speaker, and following every game, it is a pleasure to listen to his Welsh-language interviews.
Elfed Roberts (to be admitted in 2020)
Elfed Roberts, Cardiff retired from his role as Chief Executive of the National Eisteddfod in 2018, following a quarter of a century in the post. The Eisteddfod developed and evolved under his leadership, and by today, it is a vibrant and colourful festival attracting visitors of all ages and backgrounds, without losing sight of its deep roots in the traditions and culture of Wales. During his tenure, the Eisteddfod visited all parts of the country, and its linguistic and cultural legacy is clearly visible throughout Wales.
Glyn Roberts, Padog has been president of the Farmers’ Union of Wales for four years, and has worked tirelessly on behalf of farmers for many years. Although not from a farming background, he had an active interest in agriculture, and after studying at Glynllifon College of Agriculture, he began his career as a shepherd. Today, he manages a 350 acre farm, Dylasau Uchaf, which belongs to the National Trust. He has always supported and worked with the YFC, is very active within his local community, and enjoys literature of all kinds.
Aled Samuel, Llandeilo is a well-known broadcaster and presenter on radio and television. Series such as 04 Wal, Pobl a’u Gerddi and Y Dref Gymreig have appealed to viewers, giving us a glimpse of Welsh architecture, gardens and history over the years. He is a regular contributor to the magazine Golwg, and is the author of several books, including a selection of his columns from that magazine, as well as his latest volume, 100 Lle i’w Gweld Cyn Brexit. He is a keen supporter of the Eisteddfod, and his adventures on the caravan site over the years have filled many magazine columns!
Daniela Schlick, Menai Bridge was a finalist at the Welsh Learner of the Year competition in 2017, just two years after moving here from Germany. She now works as the development co-ordinator for the use of Welsh in business for Mentrau Iaith Cymru. She regularly volunteers for the benefit of the Welsh language, assisting with the Llety Arall project in Caernarfon, supporting Paned a Sgwrs sessions at Palas Print twice a month, and is responsible for the fortnightly Peint a Sgwrs sessions held at the Harp Inn, Bangor. She is one of the Shw’mae Su’mae Day champions, and a shining example to all who support the Welsh language and culture.
Huw Thomas, Cardiff has contributed extensively to the field of Welsh-medium education for many years. He was the first head teacher of Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Cwm Rhymni, and recognizing how crucial the school was to the growth of the language, was at the forefront of developing the language both within the classroom and socially. He followed a similar route when appointed head of Ysgol Gymraeg Glantaf, and within three years all A Level subjects were taught through the medium of Welsh. He has served on a number of influential education committees, and a keen supporter of Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol from the outset. His is a practical, innovative and tireless vision, and his contribution to Welsh-medium education is a very significant one.
The use of Welsh and respect for the language within South Wales Police has been transformed under the influence of Jeremy Vaughan, Cowbridge. Following a successful period with North Wales Police, he was appointed Assistant Chief Constable of South Wales Police in 2016, his responsibilities including leading on the Welsh language portfolio. The language is now seen as a fundamental part of the job, and more officers are attending Welsh lessons than there are places. Also, all services available to the public are available through the medium of Welsh. He would be the first to admit that there is more to be done, but what has already been achieved deserves the highest praise.
Nesta Williams, Penrhiw-llan, Llandysul has volunteered and helped others in numerous areas over the years, working quietly behind the scenes in order to raise money for very many charities. Having lost a close friend to Motor Neurone disease, she is actively raising money for research into that disease and has also raised funds to purchase key equipment for the specialist Calon Plus ward at Glangwili Hospital. She is well-known to competitors at the National Eisteddfod as she has volunteered on the Maes since 1984, working mainly at the Pagoda where she enjoys meeting new and old friends every year.
Gari Wyn Jones, Bangor is an expert in the world of business and cars. Although he trained as a History teacher and worked in that field for some time, enterprise was in his blood, and in 1990 he set up his own car sales business, Ceir Cymru. Providing a Welsh language service is at the very heart of the company, and the language is given prominence in every aspect of its work. He actively encourages local Welsh people, and young people in particular, to venture into business, and is a young entrepreneur consultant on behalf of Menter a Busnes, regularly visiting schools and colleges to offer advice. With his background in history, he is an expert on the Uwchaled area, the history of the Cymmrodorion, and of Jac Glan-y-gors in London.
Rowland Wynne, Cardiff could easily have been honoured for his work in promoting the Welsh language in the Taff Ely area, and his important contribution to community life there over a period of many years, including establishing and organizing Cylch Cadwgan, a literary society that meets regularly. He has spent many years working in education, specifically with the Open University and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, contributing significantly to the sector within Wales. However, he is honoured this year for his research on the scientist from Ceredigion, Professor Evan James Williams. His volume is masterful, highly readable, and offers an important platform for the work of a distinguished scientist, in a manner that is sure to appeal to readers.