The Eisteddfod is coming to an end but today I still got time to meet our last visitors of the week. I found them in the “Learning Sosban Fach session” at Maes D, and although they came from England, they were completely integrated in the celebration from the moment they stepped onto the maes.
Their names are Brian & Brenda Wareham and Terri Freeman. Brian is the Chairman of Hampshire police male voice choir and Terri is its Musical Director. They came to the National Eisteddfod because they want to hear the Welsh voices within the Male Voice Choir competition at the pavilion this afternoon. “We came for the music, but we’re really enjoying all aspects of the celebration”, says Brian.
They have a very positive attitude about experiencing Welsh culture, so they didn’t want to miss the Chairing ceremony yesterday afternoon. “It was absolutely spectacular, I burst into tears when the bard was chaired because it was so emotional”, says Terri. They also say that they were surprised to see that just a few people needed the simultaneous translation and that everybody else could speak Welsh. For them this has been a revealing experience, because they got to see that “people aren’t just giving lip service to it but they’re actually using Welsh”.
They think the festival is wonderful but they find the emphasis on Welsh language a bit challenging. “I haven’t got a clue of what half of the stalls are because I can’t understand what’s written on them; I understand the importance of preserving the language, but it would be very helpful to have just a couple of words in English, no more, to know what everything is”, says Brian.
But it is amazing to see how positive they feel about Welsh culture when they say “we can’t really complain because, in fairness, we’re the minority here”.
These three friends from Hampshire came to the National Eisteddfod for a very specific competition but they admit they have learnt a lot just during these few days. They are not Welsh, but they certainly share the attitude and respect needed to enjoy the National Eisteddfod of Wales. They are the proof that everybody is welcome in this annual celebration of Welsh culture and identity.