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The Urdd extends a special thanks to seven Maldwyn volunteers

WITH LESS than a month to go until the Maldwyn Urdd Eisteddfod, Urdd Gobaith Cymru thanks seven local volunteers for their contribution to the youth organisation over the years.

Every year during the Urdd Eisteddfod, the Urdd honours individuals who have made a significant and valuable contribution to the organisation. This year, it’s Maldwyn’s turn, and seven volunteers will be honoured in a special ceremony on Monday 27 May as they receive the title of Urdd Eisteddfod Honorary Presidents for 2024.

With over 220 years of voluntary work between them, the Maldwyn Urdd Eisteddfod will be a special occasion and one to remember for Ann Fychan, Carys and Emyr Evans, Delma Thomas, Heulwen Davies, Hywel Glyn Jones and Menna Blake. The contribution of the seven to the Urdd’s work over the years has been invaluable.

Ann Fychan, Abercegir

Ann Fychan’s roots run deep in the former county of Montgomeryshire. Involved with the Urdd since her childhood in Llanbrynmair, her parents led the Adran and Aelwyd there, and as a result of attending rehearsals, she developed an interest in teaching and performing.

In the 1980s, she began adjudicating recitation competitions in small and large Eisteddfodau, and over the years, she has taught scores of young people. As part of the preparations for the Urdd Eisteddfod in Maldwyn this year, Ann has collaborated with Rhydian Meilir on the ‘Welcome Song’ as well as the Jamboree Song ‘Croeso i’r Steddfod ym Maldwyn’. Her son, Bedwyr Fychan, is the Chair of the Urdd Eisteddfod Executive Committee in Maldwyn.

Carys and Emyr Evans, Cefn-y-Braich

Carys and Emyr aren’t ones to rest on their laurels, and the children and young people of Llansilin owe them a great debt of gratitude. Both were honoured with the John and Ceridwen Hughes Award in the 1995 Urdd Eisteddfod.

Emyr, from Cefn-y-Braich, has fond memories of the early days of Aelwyd Llansilin, of organising weekly folk dances and spending Urdd weekends at Pantyfedwen. He was responsible for leading Aelwyd Llansilin every Friday night between the 1950s and the beginning of the 1980s and organised a variety of activities for the children and young people of the area – from competing at eisteddfodau to sports and walking trips to the Wyddfa summit.

Originally from Rhydycroesau, Carys competed with the Urdd since her school days, and having qualified as a teacher and spent three years teaching in England, she returned home to help Emyr run Aelwyd Llansilin. She was busy as Chair and Secretary of the local ‘Cylch’ Eisteddfod, teaching children for the Urdd Eisteddfodau, and today helps Aelwyd Sycharth as needed.

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Delma Thomas, Caersws

Originally from Glandwr, near Crymych in Pembrokeshire, Delma’s experiences of being a member of the Urdd includes competing in the Eisteddfod and spending weeks of her summer holidays in the Llangrannog residential centre during college days.

She moved to Maldwyn having qualified as a teacher, and taught at schools in Clatter and Caersws, and later in the Newtown and Welshpool areas. In the 1970s, she was secretary of Cylch Bro Ddyfi, then secretary of the Maldwyn region for 40 years, and organised the Primary, Secondary and Aelwyd Eisteddfodau annually. She was elected Secretary of the Urdd Eisteddfod when it visited Newtown in 1988.

Heulwen Davies, Dolanog

Originally from Llanerfyl, Heulwen has lived in Dolanog for many years now. She was an ardent competitor at the Urdd’s Eisteddfodau (Solo, Duet, Cerdd Dant, and Parties and Choirs and with Aelwyd Dyffryn Banw) and she won twice in the open solo in her 20s.

Having graduated as a music teacher, she taught children to compete in the Urdd Eisteddfodau for 37 years as well as teaching Aelwyd Penllys for 30 years. She was honoured with the John and Ceridwen Hughes Award at the 2004 Urdd Eisteddfod.

Hywel Glyn Jones, Newtown

The Urdd has always been close to Hywel’s heart. His father was involved with the first ever Urdd Eisteddfod in Corwen, his brother was a Development Officer with the organisation, and his late wife Ann used to teach Second Language recitation to Urdd members at the comprehensive school in Newtown, and their children (like himself) used to compete in Eisteddfodau too.

As he moved from area to area with his work, Hywel would always remain loyal to the Urdd. He was a member of the Meirionnydd Regional committee, leader of Aelwyd Penrhyndeudraeth and regional treasurer before becoming a member of the Urdd’s Regional Committee in Maldwyn and treasurer for over twenty years. He’s a member of the 2024 Maldwyn Eisteddfod Executive Committee and Secretary of the Finance Committee.

Menna Blake, Cwmllinau

Menna had experience of being a member of the Urdd through the village branch, as a pupil in Ysgol Uwchradd Machynlleth and a member of Aelwyd Cwmllinau. She spent nearly forty years as a teacher in Ysgol Llanbrynmair and then Ysgol Glantwymyn, teaching children to sing, folk dance and ensuring opportunities for children and young people in the area to experience all of the Urdd’s activities – from sporting competitions to residential centres in Llangrannog and Glan-llyn. She was chair of the Bro Ddyfi local committee and secretary for many years.

Llio Maddocks, Eisteddfod yr Urdd Director said: “For the children and young people of Maldwyn and beyond, for Welsh speakers and learners, these seven have been the faces of the Urdd for decades. They are true benefactors of the Urdd – between them, they have given over 220 years of support to the organisation. We are extremely grateful for their invaluable dedication, and it will be a privilege and a pleasure to honour them at this year’s festival.”

Eisteddfod yr Urdd Maldwyn will be held in Meifod between 27 May and 1 June. Tickets for the Urdd Eisteddfod, including Gŵyl Triban Festival, which will be held on the Eisteddfod field on 31 May and 1 June, will be available at here.