The Singing Director, the Druid and the Crown Maker

Abergavenny and the surrounding area gearing up for 150,000 plus visitors at this year's National Eisteddfod

30 June 2016

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The National Eisteddfod of Wales is to be held this year in Castle Meadows in Abergavenny from 29 July to 6 August. A showcase for music, dance, visual arts, literature and original performances, and encompassing all aspects of the arts and culture in Wales, it attracts over 6,000 competitors and 150,000 visitors every year. Some Cooke & Arkwright staff members have an involvement, including our very own ‘Singing Director’ and a secretary who is a Druid, while the Eisteddfod Crown has been designed and crafted by the silversmith sibling of an Associate Director.

Huw Thomas, Director of Retail & Leisure, will be singing baritone at this year’s Eisteddfod once again with Cordydd, one of Wales’ main mixed choirs which has toured widely and appeared on television and radio.  Cordydd has won the Choir of the Festival award at the National Eisteddfod four times, more than any other choir. This year, Cordydd will appear on Friday 5th August. Huw comments, “I’m more used to visiting Abergavenny in a business capacity to advise landlords and retailers on the strengths of this attractive, historic market town and I’m sure they will all enjoy a good boost to their respective businesses during the event.  One of the many benefits of the National Eisteddofd is that its location changes annually thereby bringing local economies an influx of visitors and this year, Abergavenny and the surrounding area will be the beneficiary of this.  I’m looking forward to performing with the choir at the National Eisteddfod once again.”

Deborah Edwards is a jewellery maker with a workshop near Usk, who was commissioned to design and create this year’s Eisteddfod Crown which will be awarded to the winning entrant in the competition for the Pryddest – poetry written in free verse. She is sister to Elizabeth Hill, Associate Director with our Valuation team and has a BA in jewellery and silversmithing. The crown comprises a series of windows based on a window at Tintern Abbey, each of which depict views including castles at Abergavenny, Raglan, Caldicot and Usk, as well as the peaks of the Skirrid, Sugarloaf and Blorenge, and a number of cultural landmarks important in the history and landscape of Monmouthshire. The Crown was presented to the festival’s Executive Committee at a special televised ceremony in Monmouth on 14th June.

Our honorary Druid at the festival is Lynne Davies, who is Secretary to our Lease Advisory team. As a Druid, she is involved in up to five official Eisteddfod ceremonies: two in the ‘bardic circle’ (Cylch yr Orsedd), when new members are accepted into the group, and three involving the Crowning Ceremony on the Monday, the Literature Medal on the Wednesday and the Chairing of the Bard on the Friday. Lynne became a Druid after graduating in Welsh with an external degree from Aberystwyth in 2003.

The eight day cultural festival provides a national stage for music and dance, over 300 tradestands, an Exhibition Hall with crafts, jewellery and art, and a Maes with a large colourful pavilion hosting the ceremonies. Work on this year’s Maes is already well under way. The Eisteddfod has much to offer to both Welsh and English speakers, and is a vibrant festival with numerous events and activities for all families to enjoy.