Use it or Lose it... - London Welsh Centre

Comments

Transcription

Use it or Lose it... - London Welsh Centre
From the London Welsh Trust and Association at Grays Inn Road
www.cymryllundain.org.uk
Chwefror/February 2009 • Rhif/Issue 50-24
£2.00
Use it or Lose it...
Let’s keep Wales alive in London… see page 3
TUD/PAGE 2 CHWEFROR/FEBRUARY 2009
Diary
Sunday 8 February Big
Screen rugby, bar – Scotland
v Wales
Saturday 14 February Big
Screen rugby, bar – Wales v
England
Friday 20 February 7.30
pm bar, Clwb comedi –
stand up comedy
Friday 27 February Big
Screen rugby, bar France v
Wales
Saturday 28 February St
David’s Day concert with the
London Welsh Chorale
Saturday 7 March Cwrs
Undydd Cymraeg – intensive
one day Welsh course for all
levels (see page 7 for details)
Saturday 7 March Twmpath
6.30 pm organised by the
London Welsh School
contact Eleri Brady 020
8455 2275 (following the
Cwrs Undydd)
Saturday 14 March Big
Screen rugby – Italy v Wales
Friday 20 March 7.30 pm
bar, Clwb Comedi – stand
up comedy
Saturday 21 March Big
Screen rugby, bar Wales v
Ireland
Saturday 28 March
afternoon, Eisteddfod y Plant
Saturday 28 March evening
Noson Lawen with the
London Welsh Male Voice
Choir
Monday 30 March Forum:
The Darwin Conspiracy –
Origins of a Scientific Crime,
illustrated talk
Friday 17 April 7.30 pm
bar, Clwb Comedi – stand
up comedy
Wednesday 22 April Literary
Event – Twentieth Century
Welsh Poetry – Library of
Wales series (see page 9 for
details)
Monday 27 April Forum:
‘Doing Extras or The
Adjutant is not Amused’
Friday 22 May 7.30 pm
bar, Clwb Comedi – stand
up comedy
O’R GANOLFAN/FROM THE CENTRE
Hell’s Angels in Kazakhstan –
music and words in London…
The Forum continues to entertain its audiences
with a variety of interesting evenings. In
December Ted Sellick delighted the audience
with a brief history of Jerome Kern and
performance of some of his great songs. Ted
was ably accompanied by Christopher Duckett
on piano and Geoff Rogers on guitar and
accordion.
In January Alex Meredith of the Gwalia choir
entertained a rapt audience with tales of the five
weeks he spent during the summer of 2008
cycling solo from Astrakhan in Russia to Almaty
in Kazakhstan.
It was a journey that covered the length and
breadth of Kazakhstan on a route he described
as the “Tour de Kaz”.
The ride took Alex 4000km across this
fascinating, unknown country, camping out
under the stars on the steppe and relying on the
hospitality of the locals, whom he described as
wonderfully warm and generous.
Alex’s only support was his bicycle (called
“the Duchess”) and his trailer (called “Bob”)
and together they faced and overcame great
CONGRATULATIONS
To the congregation of St Benet Church. For some weeks
in the second half of last year they were prevented from
using their historic church building by the Bishop of
London.
Various lines of enquiry and protest (including holding a
church service outside the locked building) have
persuaded the Bishop to change his mind and he has
committed himself to allowing services to take place in
the Wren church until Advent 2009 at least. Bendith
arnoch i gyd.
To Gary Hickinbottom (ex-LWMVC & past Hon.
Treasurer LWT) on his appointment as a High Court
Judge.
To Anna and Theo Brueton on the birth of grandson
Ossian James Brueton McAleece to daughter Rebecca
and partner Euan.
BEST WISHES
To a number of friends who have undergone hospital
treatment:
To Dewi Thomas (LWMVC) who has undergone
quadruple heart surgery successfully.
To John Sharky (LWMVC) who is making a speedy
Alex Meredith
challenges like hundreds of miles of unsignposted dirt tracks between water stops and
sharing their impromptu campsites with wild
wolves.
They were hosted in a former Soviet missile
test centre and dropped in on a Kazakh Hell’s
Angels festival to be welcomed like a brother
(despite the lycra). He did all this without
carrying a pump, and relyied on his Gwalia song
book for entertainment and his budget map (no
sat nav) for direction.
recovery after knee surgery;
To Mike Charlesworth (LWMVC) who is out of hospital
undergoing tests after a heart problem.
To Ian (Taxi) Young who has returned to hospital for
treatment.
To Rita Clark who was unlucky enough to break her right
arm for the second time.
To Hywel Thomas (Kings Cross) who has had a hip
replacement operation.
To Leis Lloyd Williams who spent a short time in
hospital because of breathing problems.
Belated get well wishes to Mary Richards (Reading) who
was hospitalised for several weeks following a hip
replacement operation after complications set in.
To you all Bysiwch Wella – Spring is coming!
SYMPATHY
We offer our sincere sympathy to the family of Enid
Francis who died recently, Enid was a member of the
youth choir and the Dylan singers.
To the family of Tudor Jones especially his wife Rose and
his son David. Tudor was a deacon at Eglwys Y Drindod
and long term loyal member of the London Welsh
Association and the London Cardiganshire Society.
Published by the London Welsh Association. 157 Grays Inn Road, London WCIX 8UE. Telephone: 020 7837 3722
www.cymryllundain.org.uk / www.londonwelsh.org.uk
EDITORIAL TEAM: Eirlys Bebb, Theo Brueton, Rita Clark, David Daniel, Gordon Roberts, Bob Trevor and Gethin Williams.
DESIGN SUPPORT: Taliesin Communications. ADVERTISING: Rita Clark. PRINTED BY: Y Lolfa
Editorial contributions may be sent to the address above or, preferably, emailed to [email protected] Advertisers may also contact Rita Clark
Views expressed in this publication must not be taken as necessarily representing those of the London Welsh Association.
The London Welsh Trust is a Registered Charity. This statement is given to support any advertisement which appears in the columns of London Welsh
Magazine from time to time in the name of the Trust and deemed, in terms of the Act, to be fundraising.
Copy from contributors and advertisers needed by 10 March 2009 for inclusion in next issue.
O’R GANOLFAN/FROM THE CENTRE
TUD/PAGE 3 CHWEFROR/FEBRUARY 2009
Rallying call to save the London Welsh Centre
Use it or Lose it...
The London Welsh Centre has existed in Gray’s Inn Road for
over seventy years. Its purpose has been to serve as the focal
point in London for promoting Welsh culture and language and
to provide a centre for social interaction in the Welsh
community.
In the post second world war years, there was a thriving
Welsh community in the Camden and surrounding areas and the
Centre was a hive of activity. Funding was never an issue. Many
of our older members will look back fondly to those days.
Indeed, it is common to hear that people met their spouses
there.
Demographic Changes
The demographics have changed. There is no longer the same
concentration of Welsh people in the area. This population shift
has effected other Welsh institutions, especially the chapels, and
it has taken its toll on the London Welsh Centre as well.
Over the years, membership figures have declined and so too
has attendance at events which in turn means there have been
fewer events and an ever increasing dependence on hiring
income from outside organisations to keep things going.
At the same time, funding has not been available to maintain
the Centre, making it less attractive as a venue for hirers.
Clearly, we can’t turn the clock back. Our way into the future
cannot mirror the past, but must adjust to our new environment.
Reversing the trend
Since becoming Chairman 18 months ago, I have tried, together
with my fellow officers and various other committed people, to
reverse the downward trend.
• We brought the Entertainments committee back into
existence, which has resulted in a number of events, such as
comedy evenings, quizzes, big screen reception of important
sporting events, etc.;
• The choirs have organised various events inside and outside
the Centre to raise money;
• Some people, but unfortunately not enough, have given their
time to help in maintenance tasks to give the Centre a face
lift.
But WE ALL need to do more – and we have to ask more of
you to help us. We desperately need volunteers to wield a
paintbrush or otherwise help with some of the facelifting tasks in
the Centre, or to join committees or organise events and help
that way.
We urgently need to know from YOU what activities you
want to see, since attendance at some of the events we organise
suggests that they aren’t what you want.
A critical time
Put very bluntly, if we take no steps to improve the situation, the
Centre will have to close its doors in about 18 months time. In
January, we called a meeting of the various groups using the
Centre to discuss measures to put us back in a viable situation.
Various ideas have come forward and we will be putting these
together into a cohesive business plan. One thing upon which
there was consensus is that a rescue can only succeed if the
workload is divided between enough shoulders.
A core group of people, our “Domesday Committee”, will be
meeting on a monthly basis to monitor progress and steer the
rescue process. Everybody is welcome at those meetings. In six
months time, we will call an extraordinary general meeting of all
members to decide whether we are on a viable path or whether
we have to start the winding up operation.
Your Centre needs you
The message then is a clear one: “YOUR CENTRE NEEDS
YOU!”
I hope you will agree that you also need your Centre.
Consider for a moment what will be lost in the event of our
closing:
• An important centre for learning the Welsh language would
be lost;
• There would be no rehearsal space for our ambassador
choirs;
• There would not be a proper heart in the centre of London
representing Wales.
• There would be no convenient home space for visiting groups
from Wales to find publicity in London (of which there have
been many, including literary events featuring Welsh
publishers and authors, and the excellent performance in
January of ten times Eisteddfod winners Côr Caerdydd);
• There would not be a home for the prestigious young Welsh
singer competition, which gives a valuable step up and
platforms for music students in London. To have to rent
space would probably make the event financially not viable;
• There would be no magazine to publicise Welsh events
taking place in London and general information to hold
together the London Welsh community;
• There would be no official website.
We need your ideas and offers of help. Enclosed with the
magazine is a form for you to tell us about any particular skills
you would be prepared to put at our disposal and how we can
contact you. If you prefer, you can also e-mail me at
[email protected]
If you don’t feel able to give practical help, you can make a
contribution either by way of a donation or at least by helping
more cash to flow into the pot by attending the events that
people put so much hard work into arranging.
To misquote the late John F. Kennedy, I am not asking you
not to ask what your Centre can do for you, but what you can do
for your Centre. I’m inviting you to ask both questions.
I hope that in 18 months time we will be able to look back
at a successful revival of this important institution. With YOUR
help we can do it.
Barrie Lloyd, Chairman
TUD/PAGE 4 CHWEFROR/FEBRUARY 2009
DIGWYDDIADAU/EVENTS
Who’s doing what, and where
ANRHYDEDDUS GYMEITHAS Y CYMMRODORION
President: Prys Morgan, DL, MA, DPhil, FSA, FRHistS
18 February
The June Gruffydd Memorial Lecture: by Arfon
Gwilym - The Plygain Carol Tradition in Wales,
with John Jones in the chair.
18 March
A lecture by Peter Stead - A Performance Culture:
Wales and its Stars with Jon Parry in the chair.
Professor Teresa Rees CBE, Cardiff University 16 April
Wales A small smart country? with Ceridwen
Roberts in the chair.
12 May
Annual General Meeting, followed by a lecture by
Miles Wynn Cato – 11th and 19th century Welsh
Art: with particular reference to William Parry
A.R.A (1743 1791) with Professor Prys Morgan
in the chair.
Lectures are delivered at 6.30 pm at the British Academy, 10,
Carlton House Terrace London SW1. Further and up-to-date
information on www.cymmrodorion1751.org.uk or from Jon Parry,
Hon. Secretary, 30, Eastcastle Street, London. W1W 8DJ
LONDON WELSH CHORALE
Musical Director: Gareth Hancock
28 February
St David’s Day Concert (London Welsh Centre,
7.30pm)
4 April
Spring Concert: Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle
(Duke’s Hall, Royal Academy of Music, 7.30pm)
18 July
Summer Concert: to inc. Vivaldi’s Gloria and
Magnificat (Duke’s Hall, Royal Academy of Music,
7.30pm)
Choir rehearsals are held from 7.30 – 9.30 pm every Tuesday at the
London Welsh Centre, 157, Gray’s Inn Road. All visitors and potential
new members are always welcome.
For more information, or if you are interested in joining the choir
please see our Website: www.londonwelshchorale.org.uk or e-mail:
[email protected]
The London Welsh Camerata, drawn from the main Chorale
membership, is a small group performing regularly at weddings, and
special occasions of all kinds. If you would like to find out more about
the Camerata, to discuss repertoire, or to make a booking, please
contact Rhiannon Hughes: [email protected]
LONDON BRANCH OF THE WELSH FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETIES
7 February
AGM & Members’ Interests
16 May
FHC speaker: Migration Records at the Family
History Centre
12 September
Jon Mein: The value of researching the records of
the Court of Great Sessions
21 November
Dr David Ben Rees: Howell Harris of Trefeca in
London (1739-1750)
Venue: Meetings are now held at the Family History Centre, 64-68
Exhibition Road, Kensington, London SW7, at 2pm. Anyone with an
interest in Welsh family history is very welcome to join us. Further
details from the Secretary, Anne Jones, on 0208 925 4000, e-mail
[email protected]
LONDON WELSH MALE VOICE CHOIR
Musical Director: Dr. Haydn James.
Accompanist: Annabel Thwaite
1 March
Millennium Centre, Cardiff.
7 March
St Albans Abbey Cathedral, Herts.
21 March
Wales v Ireland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.
18 April
Durham Cathedral, Co Durham.
Choir rehearsals are held from 7.30 – 9.30 every Thursday evening at
the London Welsh Centre, 157, Gray’s Inn Road. All visitors and
potential new choristers are always welcome.
For more information, please see our up-to-date website at:
www.londonwelshmvc.org
GWALIA MALE VOICE CHOIR
Musical Director: Janet Haney
Accompanist: Christopher Duckett
7 February
Wedding at RAF Church, St. Clement Danes, The
Strand.
1 March
St. David’s Day concert at Lansdowne Club,
Berkeley Square.
29 March
Charity concert in St. Mary’s Church, Horton Kirby,
Kent.
16 May
Charity concert in St. Mary’s Church, Barnes,
London
20 June
Fund-raising concert for LWA in London Welsh
Centre.
Choir rehearsals are held from 7.30 – 9.30 p.m. every Wednesday at
the London Welsh Centre, 157, Gray’s Inn Road. All visitors &
potential new members always welcome.
For more information, please see our website at:
www.gwaliamalevoicechoir.org.uk
LONDON WELSH TRUST FORUM
Joint Chairmen: Graeme Jones, Ted Sellick & Lodwick Davies
All meetings take place on Monday evenings at the London Welsh
Centre, 157 Gray’s Inn Road at 7.00pm for a 7.30 start.
30 March
Roy Davies – an illustrated talk on
‘The Darwin Conspiracy - Origins of a Scientific
Crime.’
27 April
Paul Gray – ‘Doing Extras or The Adjutant is not
Amused’
16 June
SUMMER VISIT – TBA
Should any member know anyone who would like to entertain us,
please feel free to let us know, there is a pigeonhole for the Forum, if
you wish to leave a message. The recommendation(s) will be
appreciated. Thank you.
LONDON WELSH RUGBY MALE VOICE CHOIR
Musical Director: Michael Wyn Jones.
Accompanist: Mari Williams
13 February
Concert, Llanharan RFC
14 February
City Hall, Cardiff, for London Welsh RFC
Supporters
DIGWYDDIADAU/EVENTS
TUD/PAGE 5 CHWEFROR/FEBRUARY 2009
Who did what, and where
Congratulations to our LWA member Owain Arwel Hughes
who has been appointed a CBE in the 2009 New Year
Honour's list for his contribution to music and charity.
Gareth Hancock, new Musical Director of the
London Welsh Chorale. See page 10.
Rehearsals for WNO’s spring season see David Soar as Figaro and Rosemary Joshua as
Susanna. The new production coincides with a special exhibition in the Coningsby Gallery,
Tottenham Street which features behind the scenes views of the company. (see page 11)
A night at the Forum (see page 2); Lod Davies, Ted Sellick, Graeme Jones,
Christopher Duckett (piano), Geoff Rogers (guitar and accordion).
Patrick Monahan headlined a recent comedy club evening.
See page 7.
Alex Meredith en route in Kazakhstan (see Forum report on page 2)
Côr Caerdydd.
See page 6.
TUD/PAGE 6 CHWEFROR/FEBRUARY 2009
Côr Caerdydd
Côr Caerdydd, the multi award winning mixed choir from
Cardiff, founded & conducted by Gwawr Owen paid a rare visit
to London to support the London Welsh Centre on Saturday
24th January.
The choir gave an ‘original & appropriate programme, to a
high musical standard with great vitality’ Kenneth Bowen was
particularly impressed that they performed the whole
programme, except when supporting a soloist, from memory.
Catrin Aur (Davies) shone in her renderings of Cymru Fach,
Ernani Involami, the Jewel Song from Gounod’s Faust, and the
programme was given variety by solo contributions from
Delwyn Siôn who accompanied himself singing his own
compositions. Abigail Sara and Ieuan Wyn also performed as
soloists and Nicola Rose accompanied all the singers with great
DIGWYDDIADAU/EVENTS
empathy and musicality.
Needless to say, the ‘star’ of the show was Gwawr herself,
who controlled the talented singers in front of her with
precision and vivacity. In introducing the choir, she emphasised
how important the Centre was to herself and other young
Welsh musicians who had lived in London at different times. It
was in the same hall that she had first conducted a choir and
exhibited her great talent.
In his closing remarks of appreciation, Lord Morris related
that several of his childhood contemporaries, such as William
Mathias, had been closely involved with both the Centre and
the development of British Music over the last 50 years, and
how good it was to be able to welcome Gwawr and her choir
back to the London Welsh Centre. Long may we be able to do
so!
The joyous atmosphere continued in the upstairs lounge
until long after the staff should have gone home…
David Johnson
Celebrate St David’s Day with finest Welsh produce
Foodies in London will be able to celebrate St David’s Day on 1
March 2009 in style thanks to the first dedicated Welsh produce
market ever to be held in London.
True Taste award-winning producers will be showcasing the
very best in Welsh food and drink on Friday 27 February 2009
allowing those who love good food and all things Welsh to stock
up for their St David’s Day celebrations that weekend.
The market will take place at St Christopher’s Place, just off
Oxford Street from 12.30pm – 7pm. Producers will be on hand to
talk visitors through the artisan products on offer.
For more information please contact Caroline, Holly or Georgie
at Focus PR on 020 7845 6600.
DIGWYDDIADAU/EVENTS
TUD/PAGE 7 CHWEFROR/FEBRUARY 2009
Your ‘aving a larf… and
now Comedy Club is packing ‘em in
Whisper it loudly but The Comedy Club, held on the third Friday
of every month in the bar of the London Welsh Centre, is taking
root and is beginning to pull in the audiences that it deserves.
That is largely due the quality of the comedians who have so
far appeared, and the fact that Londoners enjoy a good laugh and
a night of fun away from the trials and tribulations of the credit
crunch.
The Comedy Club, or Clwb Comedi to some, certainly provides
a few hours of fun and laughter, and the message has been taken
up by Time Out magazine to support the word-of-mouth publicity
it has so far relied on.
Since the last issue of this magazine there have been two
Comedy nights, in November and January (December was given
over to a less structured, impromptu evening where members of
the audience who felt brave enough could feel what it was like up
there on the stage with a mike in their hands). November’s gig
featured Cardiff’s Paul Harry Allen, newcomer Tom Goodliffe,
Eastender Natasha Donovan and Guest MC Marian Pashley who
has been described as Les Dawson’s grand-daughter (she’s not).
Headliner was James Nokise, who by his own admission looks
like Lionel Richie’s love child. It takes a brave man to stand in
front of a predominantly Welsh audience, on the eve of the Wales
v New Zealand Autumn International and in a Kiwi accent
proclaim an All Black victory the following day.
He was right of course, and he is actually half-Welsh, halfSamoan, but he got away with it because he was very, very funny
and the audience loved him.
January’s evening was headlined by Lloyd Langford, from Port
Talbot. Lloyd is a natural comedian who could get laughs in an
empty room. The bar however was full, and he had the audience
in stitches.
Sion James returned as MC for the evening. We welcomed
back Steve Parry, a commissioned writer for several BBC sketch
shows, and his particular take on politics and having ginger hair,
and Paul Harry Allen had scoured the country for new party
albums to introduce us to in a Richard Burton accent.
We also had the pleasure of having a hand puppet show,
featuring just his hands, by one of Australia’s up and coming
comedians.
Now the Comedy Club, Clwb Comedi, has comedians booked
for the next five months, on the third Friday night of each month.
Do yourselves a favour and come and see it. Even better, bring
your friends along and make a night of it.
David Daniel
cwrs dwys undydd
intensive one-day Welsh course
Dydd Sadwrn 7 Mawrth 2009 9yb-5.30yp
Saturday 7 March 2009 9am-5.30pm
Croeso i Ddysgwyr o Bob Safon
All Levels Welcome including
Complete Beginners
CANOLFAN CYMRY LLUNDAIN
THE LONDON WELSH CENTRE
Manylion a ffurflen cofrestri
Details and registration form:
www.anoeth.demon.co.uk/pdc.html
neu ebost - email: [email protected]
neu ffoniwch:
Theo Brueton 020 7923 0302
Twmpath Dawns in the evening – see page 8
Noson o Adloniant
Gyda aelodau a ffrindiau
Côr Meibion Cymry Llundain
Yr elw tuag at y Ganolfan
March 28 Mawrth 2009
Members and friends of the
London Welsh Male Voice Choir
Variety Evening
The proceeds in aid of the LW Centre
Clwb Comedi
London Welsh Centre, 157 Grays Inn Road.
February 20, March 20, April 17, May 22.
£10 entrance (£8 members) including 1st Pint.
Don’t miss it!
TUD/PAGE 8 CHWEFROR/FEBRUARY 2009
St David’s Day
Walk – and the
writers of Wales
Celebrate St David’s Day in London with a visit to more of the
haunts of Dylan Thomas and other Welsh writers and artists on
the 5th Annual St David’s Day Walk on Sunday 1 March.
Hear about drapers and haberdashers with Welsh connections
and a Welsh church as we stroll around Soho and along Oxford
Street to Oxford Circus. The walk will last one and a half to two
hours and will be led by professional guide Caroline James.
Meet 11.00am Tottenham Court Road Tube (outside The
Dominion Theatre).
Cost £6 per person
Contact: Caroline James, 07906 892337/
[email protected]
THE LONDON WELSH TRUST presents
at our
ST DAVID’S CELEBRATION
CONCERT
on
SATURDAY 28TH FEBRUARY 2009
at 7.30pm
(Doors open at 7.00pm)
at the London Welsh Centre, 159/163 Gray’s Inn Road,
London WC1X 8UE
Tickets - ǧ16.00
(Reserved and numbered—includes price of programme)
Available from the office (Tel: 020 7837 3722)
DIGWYDDIADAU/EVENTS
WHAT’S ON AND WHERE
Interested in artists from Wales performing across a wide range of
genres? Here are some dates for your diaries
February
5 – People in Planes alt rock from Porthcawl at the Water Rats
(7pm) 328 Grays Inn Road
7 – The Loves new wave from Cardiff at The Enterprise,
2 Haverstock Hill NW3
10 – Rebecca Jade & The TBC RDJ with her new group at
Barden’s Boudoir 38-44 Stoke Newington Rd
N16 7XJ
22 – Catrin Finch – at the Royal Academy of Music 4pm Box
Office 020 7873 7300
27 – Derwyddon Dr Gonzo, Truckers of Husk, Sibrydion,
Richard James, Sweet Baboo, Colorama (7.30pm) in another
extravaganza celebrating St David’s Day (and hopefully victory
against France); presented by Huw Stephens et al at The ICA
020 7930 3647 www.ica.org.uk
27, 28 – Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Four young dancers
perform to music by Charlie Barber, played by The Mavron
Quartet and choreographed by Jean Abreu. 8pm at The Place
020 7121 1100 www.theplace.org.uk
www.soundaffairs.co.uk
28 – The London Welsh Chorale - St David’s Day Concert
(7.30pm) with Carolyn Foulkes, Soprano, at the Centre
tickets 020 7837 3722
March
2 – St David’s Day Dinner with Guest Artist John Owen-Jones
The Guildhall (6.30 for 7.15)
details: www.stdavidsdayinlondon.com
7 – One-Day Welsh course at the Centre (9am for 9.30) see
page 7 or www.anoeth.demon.co.uk/pdc.html
7 – Twmpath Dawns for all the family, 6.30-10.30 at the
Centre, in support of The London Welsh School. Admission –
tickets £10 adults, under 16s free - including cawl and
bread. Contact Eleri Brady 020 8445 2275
10 – (to 4 April) The Sherman Theatre Cardiff presents
DEEP CUT by Philip Ralph. A Llangollen family strive to find
answers following the death of their daughter at Deepcut
Barracks. At the Tricycle Theatre 269 Kilburn High Road,
NW6 7JR 020 7328 1000.
www.shermancymru.co.uk/on-tour/ www.tricycle.co.uk
NB There will be discussion sessions following the
performances on the 12, 17 and 24.
12 – Amy Wadge 12 Bar Club 22-23 Denmark Place WC2
(7.30pm) tickets 020 7240 2622
28 – Funeral for a Friend at ULU, Malet St
April
24 – The Barriers – Indie group from Swansea at the Purple
Turtle – part of the Camden Crawl event.
www.myspace.com/thebarriers
Our Advertisers
Please mention this
magazine when contacting
our advertisers.If you know
of a potential advertiser
please contact Rita Clark:
[email protected]
WEB INFORMATION;
Don’t forget to visit the London Welsh
Centre’s bi-lingual web pages at
www.londonwelsh.org.uk for up to
date information on all events at the
Centre. Also included is a special
section for Wales in London events
and links to other in-house groups and
other related organisations.
DIGWYDDIADAU/EVENTS
TUD/PAGE 9 CHWEFROR/FEBRUARY 2009
Wales in words – a celebration of Welsh poetry
Eminent Welsh writer Meic Stephens – who is taking part in the
Fraser Cains Literary Lights Night on 22 April – celebrated his
70th birthday last year, but that hasn’t halted his writing. His new
anthology, A Hundred Poets of the 20th Century, uses his half
century of experience on the Welsh literary scene – and
acquaintance with almost all the contributors – to pull together
some of the best Welsh poetry in English in one cover.
So why another anthology? Well, Professor Dai Smith editor of
the Library of Wales was anxious to include poetry in his Library of
Wales and this seemed an appropriate way of doing it. The
University of Glamorgan - where I was Professor of Welsh Writing in
English - The Guild of Graduates of the University of Wales and the
Thomas Ellis Memorial Fund were prepared to contribute towards
the costs. It seemed like a good opportunity to look back over the
century that had just ended.
The anthology Poetry 1900-2000 that now takes its place in
Parthian’s Library of Wales includes the work of a hundred poets. It
begins with W. H. Davies, ‘the Tramp Poet’ from Newport, and
ends with Owen Sheers, the young writer brought up near
Abergavenny.
In between are the illustrious dead: David Jones, Idris Davies,
Vernon Watkins, Dylan Thomas, Alun Lewis, Glyn Jones, R. S.
Thomas, Leslie Norris, Harri Webb and John Ormond.
Among the poets still in the land of the living are Dannie Abse,
Ruth Bidgood, Gillian Clarke, John Davies, Paul Groves, Robert
Minhinnick, Gwyneth Lewis and Paul Henry.
Most were born in Wales but about twenty others, among them
the Americans Joseph. P. Clancy and Jon Dressel, are included
because they’ve been domiciled in Wales for long periods and, an
even more crucial qualification, have made significant contributions
to our country’s literature. They include Lynette Roberts, Jeremy
Hooker, Richard Poole, Christine Evans and Sheenagh Pugh.
With 554 poems and 870 pages the anthology is the most
capacious of its kind ever compiled. All parts of Wales are
represented – urban, industrial and rural. Our history is also
reflected, from Edwardian times to the age of global warming and
the internet.
As an old hand at anthologies – this is my ninth – I’m aware
that I am bound to surprise, baffle, disappoint or infuriate some
readers by my choice of poets and poems. But if I also stimulate
fresh thinking about the course of Welsh writing in English over the
last hundred years, I shall be content.
In short, I’ve tried to produce a comprehensive, authoritative and
lively anthology which still leaves room in the republic of letters for
dissent. I hope, too, the book will be used in the schools of Wales
where Welsh writing in English is still only patchily taught.
I hope my book will be seen as both a valedictory salute to old
friends and an avuncular nod in the direction of younger men and
women now making names for themselves.
Meic Stephens
A C e l e b r a t i o n o f We l s h Po e t r y
J o i n u s a t t h e L o n d o n We l s h C e n t r e o n
We d n e s d a y 2 2 n d o f A p r i l
f o r a Fr a s e r C a i n s L i t e r a r y L i g h t s N i g h t
w i t h t h e e d i t o r o f Poetry 1900–2000 M e i c S t e p h e n s
Poetry 1900–2000 brings together a vibrant expression of
the industrial, pastoral, rural, urban, religious, political
and linguistic experience of Wales in the twentieth
century world. The poetry collected here is as varied as
Wales itself, and ranges from the well known to the
startling, from the lyrical to the experimental, the
celebration of tradition to that of protest.
‘Poetry 1900-2000 is ... a cultural act, and a landmark in the English
language writing of Wales. It is by far the most comprehensive
collection of Welsh poetry in English in the Twentieth-century
which we have had – or are likely to have.’ Tony Brown, Cambria
For details of the whole Library of Wales series visit www.libraryofwales.org
TUD/PAGE 10 CHWEFROR/FEBRUARY 2009
CORAU/CHOIRS
London Welsh Chorale
Messiah – Ken’s 25 years
as choir leader ends on high note
The London Welsh Chorale finished 2008 on a high note with a
highly successful performance of Handel’s Messiah attended by
a large and enthusiastic audience. It was an event tinged with
sadness however as it marked the end of Kenneth Bowen’s
valedictory year before stepping down as Musical Director of the
Chorale.
Ken has led the choir for 25 years, bringing not only his
immense musical skills and knowledge but also a warmth and
humour which will be greatly missed. The admiration and
affection felt for him by present and past members alike was
demonstrated by a dinner held in his honour in January which
was attended by over 90 friends and family.
Ken’s departure means the Chorale has appointed a new
Musical Director to take on the daunting task of maintaining the
standards he has set. We have been fortunate enough to
persuade Gareth Hancock to accept the post. Gareth was a
choral scholar at Clare College, Cambridge, and studied at the
Royal Academy of Music (where he still coaches).
Since then he has worked as a coach, accompanist and
conductor with all Britain’s major opera companies, working
with such conductors as Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Andrew Davis and
Sir John Eliot Gardiner. The Chorale is lucky to have found such
an able replacement for Ken and the coming months promise to
be very exciting.
Gareth’s first concert in charge will be a celebration of St
David’s Day held on 28 February 2009 at the London Welsh
Centre at 7.30pm (tickets from The London Welsh Trust: 020
7837 3722 or www.cymryllundain.org). The programme will be
a mix of Welsh and English repertoire and also features soprano
Caroline Foulkes.
Following that, our Spring Concert will be at the Duke’s Hall,
Royal Academy of Music on 4 April 2009 (starting 7.30pm).
We will be performing Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle (a work
which Gareth ought to know well as he played one of the piano
parts at the Chorale’s last performance of it 10 years ago!)
Tickets are available from members of the Chorale, at the door
or online at [email protected]
Matthew Holt
Gwalia Male Voice Choir
From traditional hymns to up-beat
musicals – Gwalia sing the changes
From harvest suppers, to birthday treats – Christmas concerts
to memorials, the Gwalia has had a number of varied
engagements over the past few months.
In October we sang at the Annual Harvest Supper at
Eynsford in Kent with soprano soloist Victoria Stanyon.
Victoria sang several numbers including the solo part for “La
Vergine del Angeli” from “The Force of Destiny” with the choir
which received great applause.
At the end of November, we were at an Old People’s Home
in Sidcup, Kent, where we were the surprise guests at the 90th
birthday party of the father of one of our choristers – Laurence
Williams.
On 13 December, we participated in a joint Christmas
concert with a chamber choir called the Jubilate, that our
musical director Janet Haney also conducts. The concert was in
St. John’s Church, Crystal Palace, which was the church where
we recorded our CD two years ago.
We sang “I was glad when they said unto me” from Psalm
122 with the Jubilate choir and orchestra to an arrangement by
Janet. We also sang our usual varied programme of traditional
Welsh numbers intermixed with upbeat numbers from
musicals. For the finale, the audience joined the two choirs in
singing traditional Christmas carols. It was an extremely good
concert and a very enjoyable evening.
On 17 January we joined the Rugby Club Choir in a
memorial service at the London Welsh Centre for Mike Hynd, a
former member of both the choirs. This is described in more
detail elsewhere in the magazine, but the Gwalia would like to
thank the Rugby Club choir for their support in this celebration
of Mike Hynd’s life.
On a sad note, we will inform you of the recent deaths of
two members of the Gwalia – Mike Hynd and Ceri Evans. Mike
Hynd passed away on 7 December from pneumonia and Ceri
Evans passed away early in the New Year from cancer. We
extend our deepest sympathy to the families of Ceri Evans and
Mike Hynd.
For details of our forthcoming engagements over the next
few months, please see our website at:
www.gwaliamalevoicechoir.org.uk.
David Hurlbut
DIGWYDDIADAU/EVENTS
TUD/PAGE 11 CHWEFROR/FEBRUARY 2009
Memorial to Iolo Morganwg
Edward Williams – known as Iolo Morganwg organized the first
meeting of the ‘Gorsedd of the Bards of the Isles of Britain’ on
Primrose Hill in North London on the summer solstice 1792. This
is now an integral part of today’s ceremonies at the National
Eisteddfod. The Royal Parks have granted permission for a
Memorial to Iolo Morganwg to be placed on this delightful
location.
Renowned sculptor John Meirion Morris and calligrapher Ieuan
Rees have designed an attractive memorial made from Welsh
materials which, it is anticipated, will be completed for unveiling in
the Summer of 2009.
The project team is lead by Elfyn Llwyd MP and includes
Rhian Medi, Isabel Monnington-Taylor, Jon Parry and John Jones.
They are backed by a distinguished list of supporters.
Without voluntary funding this project will not be able to go
ahead. An appeal has been set
up, and if you are able to
contribute to this memorial or
would like to discuss it further,
please contact Rhian Medi on
0788 799 6547 or
[email protected]
Cheques may be sent direct
to Rhian at c/o 1 Vincent Terrace
London N1 8HJ and payable to
Iolo Morgannwg
‘Cyfrif Bryn y Briallu’.
All who pledge £100 or more will be guaranteed an invitation
to the ceremony. Celebrated chef and restauranteur Bryn Williams
has been appointed to provide a fitting feast of Welsh cuisine in
what will be a memorable occasion.
Look what’s cooking!
If you are interested in learning about cooking traditional Welsh
recipes the Coginio DVD is the perfect place to start. It shows
how to cook such delicacies as Welsh Cakes, Cawl, Welsh
Rarebit, Laverbread and Bara Brith.
Even those less experienced in the kitchen will be able to
follow the step-by-step guide. All the recipes and instructions are
in Welsh and English so it is very useful for anyone interested in
brushing up on Welsh cookery terms and for Welsh learners.
It would make an excellent gift for people who are interested
in food, the Welsh language and Wales.
TUD/PAGE 12 CHWEFROR/FEBRUARY 2009
CORAU/CHOIRS
Some of the LWMVC choristers who wore their medals for the Cenotaph engagement on 11 November. John Davies, Mark James, Mel Simmons, John Edwards, Denis MacCarthy,
Bill Rawlings, Iorwerth Pritchard, Mitch Jones, Mike Charlesworth, Peter Knock, Don May and John Downing. Photo: Clive Jones.
LWMVC
TV slots win LWMVC national celebrity status
The highlight of recent months for the London Welsh Male Voice
Choir was a prestigious engagement at the Cenotaph in Whitehall
to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the ending of WW1, that
was televised live on BBC on 11 November.
Many choristers considered it the most moving experience they
had been involved in their lives. As a result many choristers had the
distinction of featuring in Her Majesty’s Christmas Message on TV.
In December some members of the Choir joined the
congregation at Eastcastle Street Chapel for the recording of a
Gymanfa Ganu for S4C, conducted by Haydn James with Jane
Watts on the organ.
The Choir has also performed at two stunning large venues, to
capacity audiences, during the recent atrocious weather conditions
– wet and windy at Lancing College in December and a bitterly cold
Winchester Cathedral in January.
Haydn James has conducted the Choir with Annabel Thwaite as
accompanist. Whilst College students were the guest soloists at
Lancing, the soloist at Winchester was Elizabeth Donovan, runnerup at the last London Welsh Young Singer Competition.
Due to the global financial situation’s effect on potential
sponsors it is a disappointment that the Choir’s invitation to perform
in Qatar in January/February was withdrawn.
However, in some ways this is a blessing due to the huge Choir
commitment in March. There is a visit to Cardiff’s Millennium
Centre on St David’s Day (Sunday 1 March at 5pm) for a miniFestival to join those choirs from Wales that participated at the
Royal Albert Hall last October, for the benefit of the Teenage Cancer
Trust.
The Choir returns to a favourite venue, the Abbey Cathedral at
St Albans on 7 March. 21 March sees the Choir back in Cardiff - to
sing at the Millennium Stadium before the Wales and Ireland game,
the last match of this season’s Six Nations Rugby International
Championship – let’s hope it’s for the Triple Crown and another
Grand Slam.
On 28 March it’s the Noson Lawen by individual choristers and
supporters of the Choir at, and in aid of, the London Welsh Centre
in Grays Inn Road – this was a very successful evening last year to
a packed Hall.
In April the Choir will visit Durham Cathedral for the first time –
an eagerly awaited experience.
There are plans for a three-concert
tour of SW France at the end of May.
The main party will fly from London on
the 23 May, and return on the 30th
May, with many choristers and
supporters making other journeys. The
Choir will be staying in Bordeaux and
give concerts at Saintes and
Angouleme. We extend congratulations
to past chorister Gary Hickinbottom on
Gary Hickinbottom
his appointment as a High Court Judge.
(See page13 report)
Gethin Williams
London exhibition and exciting season for WNO
Life behind the scenes at Welsh National Opera will be the theme
of a new art exhibition opening in London’s Coningsby Gallery in
March.
Featured will be original illustrations by artist Jane Webster
who has portrayed singers and staff working behind the scenes on
a production of Verdi’s Otello. The exhibition opens on Monday,
30th March in the gallery at 20 Tottenham Street W1T 6RJ.
The London exhibition coincides with WNO’s spring season
which offers highlights including a new production of Mozart’s The
Marriage of Figaro. The production stars David Soar in his title
role debut as Figaro. Rebecca Evans returns to the WNO as the
Countess and Rosemary Joshua makes her debut as Susanna.
A visit to the Riviera is also on offer with a production of
Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love. A little love potion should go a long
way with Camilla Roberts as Adina and Dimitri Pittas as
Nemorino. The third production, Salome by Richard Strauss, will
be of particular interest as it will feature Erika Sunnegardh in her
UK debut in the title role and will be conducted by Lothar Koenigs
who becomes WNO’s Music Director in August.
Ray Howell
NEWYDDION/NEWS
TUD/PAGE 13 CHWEFROR/FEBRUARY 2009
Mr Justice Hickinbottom – Welsh speaking
Englishman appointed to the High Court
Sir Gary Hickinbottom has been sworn in as a Judge of the High
Court, following his appointment by HM The Queen, and assigned
to the Queen’s Bench Division as the Honourable Mr Justice
Hickinbottom.
He becomes only the fourth solicitor ever to have been
appointed to the High Court Bench, appointments usually being
made from the ranks of senior barristers.
Gary’s name will be immediately recognised by members and
friends of the London Welsh community. A Welsh-speaking
Englishman and keen supporter of all things Welsh, Gary was a
Trustee and the Treasurer of the London Welsh Trust (1994 –7),
and a member of the London Welsh Male Voice Choir (19822000, and 2004-5).
He was Choir Treasurer (1987-91), and was instrumental in
drafting the Choir’s constitution. He also toured New Zealand as a
member of the London Welsh Rugby Club Choir in 2005.
His legal career began in 1975 when he was employed as a
solicitor’s clerk in the Black Country. He won an Open Scholarship
to University College Oxford and graduated with 1st Class Honours
in Jurisprudence, receiving his MA in 1982. He joined a
prestigious London solicitors’ firm in 1978, where he became a
partner in 1986 until 2000, when he was appointed a Circuit
Judge in Wales.
In his judicial capacity, he has carried out most of his duties in
Wales, eventually becoming Designated Civil Judge for Wales,
Principal Judge of the Technology and Construction Court in Wales,
and Principal Judge of the Administrative Court in Wales.
He was a member of the Lord Chancellor’s Standing
Committee for the Welsh Language (2001-3), and is still a
member of “Legal Wales” (a Standing Committee of the National
Assembly) and “Reaching Justice Wales” (a charity with the object
of supporting voluntary organisations which provide legal
representation in Wales).
In 2003, he was appointed Chief Social Security & Child
Support Commissioner of Great Britain, and was the first Chief
Commissioner to sit in Wales in recent times.
In 2005, he was appointed Chief Pensions Appeal
Commissioner: and, in 2008, he was made Deputy Senior
President of Tribunals (with particular responsibility for leading
judicial input into the tribunal reform programme) and the
President of the Administrative Appeals Chamber of the new Upper
Tribunal.
Where to next for Mr Justice Hickinbottom? He is due to stay in
the tribunal system for now, but after Easter it is proposed that he
will spend half his time as a High Court Judge “on circuit”
anywhere in England and Wales (particularly hearing serious
criminal cases), and the rest sitting in the Royal Courts of Justice in
London.
Then, if we are to believe Joshua Rozenberg, Legal Editor of
“The Daily Telegraph”:
“It won’t be long before he is asked to take on more
administrative responsibilities. Then it will be the Court of
Appeal.” As they say in the High Court, “M’lud, I respectfully
agree with my learned friend.”
However, that is all in the future. For now we say,
“Llongyfarchiadau, Syr Gary, a phob lwc.”
John Edwards
MARWOLAETHOL/OBITUARIES
Celebrating the full and varied life of Mike Hynd
A celebration of the life of Mike Hynd was held at the Centre on
17 January and over 180 people attended from many walks of
Mike’s life:
His family came from Ammanford, Cardiff & Cork, Ireland;
Friends who were in the same class with him in primary
school in Ammanford; others who knew him at University or
worked with him at Hextall Erskine solicitors and elsewhere.
Representatives from the various organisations from the Welsh
community were also there, including those from Ammanford &
Lampeter Rugby clubs, the London Welsh Rugby club, the
supporters club he had developed over the last 30 years and of
which he was the current chair and the mid Surrey bowls club of
which he had been secretary for several years.
The most glorious vocal support came from the Gwalia Choir
of which he was a current member, supported by the London
Welsh Rugby club choir of which he had been a founder member.
His London Lodges, Carmarthenshire & Dewi Sant Gwalia
were well represented, as well as petitioners of a new Lodge,
Welsh Installed Masters, which he was in the process of forming.
The London Welsh Trust, on whose council he sat, and who
had made the facilities of the centre available for the function,
were there in force.
A most carefully chosen and appropriate reading was given by
Gaenor Howells, and tributes, each different but equally moving
were given by Martin Wynn Jones (a friend from Kew), Rhodri
Hynd (his nephew), Alan Hanford (from the supporters club) and
Derek Conway, who had worked with him for twenty years.
Robert Weekly, with whom he had developed the social life of the
London Welsh supporters, entertained the congregation until the
licensing laws demanded silence. For many, including the twenty
members of his family, it was their first visit to the LW centre,
who were both surprised and impressed to find such a beautiful
centre of Welsh Culture in the middle of London.
David Johnson
TUD/PAGE 14 CHWEFROR/FEBRUARY 2009
Mike Hynd
Mike Hynd died in December at the age of 65 following a
function at Old Deer Park. When discovered the following day
he was still in his evening suit and bow tie.
Mike will not easily be forgotten for he as a man of passion
about so many things. He was an ardent supporter of London
Welsh RFC, a passionate fundraiser for his charity for children
with terminal illness, a lover of choral singing and an almost
fanatical supporter of the national team.
In fact, he went through misery during the week before an
International. Would the tries come, would the kicks go over,
would the defence hold out? He’d go though the forthcoming
game over and over and worry. None more so than at Croke
Park last season when Wales went there for the Triple Crown.
“It’s all about history,” he said.
“We’ll never play there again, so a victory will be in the
books forever. A unique game.” Afterwards he calmly
announced: “There you are. I said we’d win” Mike was behind
the formation of the LWRFC Supporters Club. He was its
chairman and transport organiser.
Mike arranged the transport for away games and also for
the trips to Cardiff. Considering he lived a few minutes from the
ground, it is surprising he was always the last to arrive,
probably knowing no bus would dare leave him behind. At
Cardiff, he arranged the match day lunch and drinks party at
City Hall, often missing the game to ensure everything was in
place for the teatime celebrations. And anyone looking for a
ticket would always make Mike their first port of call. Usually
successfully.
Mike came from Ammanford to work as a solicitor’s
managing clerk. He sang with the Rugby choir before finding
his natural “home” with Cor Meibion Gwalia.
It was Mike who organised the “Red Book” of hymn and
arias, so important to all choristers in London and beyond. He
knew all the words and all the baritone notes.
Mike was as meticulous as he was passionate. Whereas he
had firm views of most subjects (he was always right, even
when not quite so), he rarely talked of himself.
It was not until someone found a citation under his bed that
we found out he was a Freeman of the City of London. More
than 200 turned up at the Welsh Club at Gray’s Inn Road for a
Night of Remembrance in January, organised by the Gwalia
and David Johnson.
Mike would have loved the performances of Gwahoddiad
and Ar Hyd Y Nos. He’d have also been impressed by the
evening lasting until three o’clock Sunday morning. Yes, he’d
have really enjoyed that!
Bob Trevor
Jean Pugh. 1929-2008
The death occurred on the 1 November in Bronglais Hospital,
Aberystwyth of Jean Pugh, daughter of the late Betty & Jack
Pugh of Oxford Express Dairy of Frith Street, Soho.
Her body was cremated at Aberystwyth Crematorium on 8
November, where the London Welsh Dairy community was well
MARWOLAETHOL/OBITUARIES
represented. Her ashes will be interred in Henfenwy Cemetery.
Jean attended Greycoat Hospital School immediately before
the Second World War and finished her secondary education at
Aberaeron County School during the war. Returning to London
in 1944 she joined her parents in running the shop until it
closed in 1985 on the death of her father.
She subsequently moved down to Aberaeron, to the house
she was evacuated to during the war years.
A member at Charing Cross Chapel during its existence after
the war, in Aberaeron she attended Tabernacle.
She was a member of the London Welsh Association for a
number of years and remembered helping out at the time it
was the Welsh Services Club.
She is survived by her brothers Maldwyn and Islwyn and
their respective families.
Maldwyn Pugh
John Ceredig Evans, ‘Ceri’
Our Dad, or ‘Ceri’ to most who knew him was in our eyes a
true ‘London-Welshman’. He was born in Hackney Road,
London, probably within the sound of Bow Bells, on 21
January 1932.
His father, a dairyman, was from Aberystwyth and his
mother was from Pont Llanio. His parents and older brother
Dai were faithful members of Jewin Chapel.
During the War, he was evacuated to Pont Llanio in
Ceredigion, where he forged many friendships with other
London Welsh evacuees. Later he returned to London, studying
at Parmiters School in Bethnal Green before going on to pursue
a career as an insurance broker with Lloyd’s of London.
In 1958 he passed his Chartered Insurance Institute exams
and he remained in the City until his retirement in 1997.
Ceri had a long involvement with the London Welsh
Association from his early youth, he was an active member of
the London Welsh Choir, and later the Gwalia Male Voice
Choir, of which he was a founder member.
He was also an active member of Borough Welsh
Congregational Chapel in Southwark Bridge Road, and a Past
Master of the Ceredigion Lodge.
Fate, and a mutual love of music, brought Ceri and wife
Ann, an opera singer, together on a coach trip to an Eisteddfod
in Towcester. They married in Old Colwyn, North Wales in the
spring of 1966 and were later blessed with two sons, Jonathan
and Christopher, who they brought up at their home in
Norbury, South London.
In true Welsh spirit, rugby was never far from his mind. He
was a dedicated and at times very passionate supporter of the
London Welsh Rugby Club, rarely missing a game, home or
away, sporting his red jacket and London Welsh RFC cap. The
rugby field was probably the only place where Ceri would ever
raise his voice for he was a quiet and reserved man loved
dearly by all of his family, friends and neighbours.
Dad died peacefully in hospital on 4 January 2009,
aged 76.
Jonathan and Christopher Evans
TUD/PAGE 16 CHWEFROR/FEBRUARY 2009
CHWARAEON/SPORTS
The Welsh Dream – joining
rugby’s elite
By Paul Beken
The face of rugby football has changed – and is continuing to
change – beyond all recognition. That much became clear when
the RFU rubber-stamped proposals to create a two-tier
professional structure, comprising a 12 team Premiership and a
12 team Championship, built around the leading clubs in what is
now National League One.
London Welsh, who still harbour dreams of joining the
game’s elite, have been smart enough to realise that these
dreams can only be achieved by sustaining a long-term, fully
professional operation.
And with twelve victories from their first twenty league game
the Welsh are now virtually assured of a place in next season’s
Championship.
The Welsh may have been smart, but they have also been
streetwise enough to know that professional rugby can be a cutthroat and unforgiving game, for the harsh reality remains that a
few clubs, even in the Premiership, are struggling to balance
their books, especially in the present economic climate.
The Welsh did flirt with professionalism a decade ago, but
that experiment was aborted after three years. Now, the Welsh
find themselves in a division that abounds with ambitious
professional clubs, of whom Leeds and Exeter are notable
examples, and they know fully well that to compete with such
clubs they will need to attract the players and coaching staff that
can help them climb to the top.
One consequence has been a subtle, but significant, change
in coaching and astute recruitment in playing personnel. Former
Head Coach felt unable to accept an important Developmental
role in the club and his place is taken by Danny Wilson.
Though only 31, the former London Welsh forwards coach
has extensive experience with Cardiff Blues and Cardiff RFC, and
significant involvement with Wales U18, U19, U20 and Sevens
squads.
It was nevertheless a baptism of fire for the new Head Coach.
Successive home defeats by Nottingham, Coventry and Cornish
Pirates, and an unrewarding trip to Doncaster, sent the Welsh
spinning down the table, but Wilson’s patience and clear vision is
now paying a dividend, for since Christmas the Welsh have
rattled up 185 points and 26 tries in winning four of their five
games. The only defeat was at Leeds, who still boast 100%
record.
Among the new recruits are full-back Mark Harris and flanker
Nic Strauss. Both have won honours in their native South Africa
and were highly influential at previous club, Bedford.
Another recent recruit is former Wales ‘A’, Ospreys and Sale
flanker Nathan Bonner- Evans, together with a host of loan
players from top Premiership clubs, all of whom ensure the team
changes week to week.
Tom Brown breaks to score a try against Sedgley Park.
Picture by Dave Jackson.
By the end of January Welsh had called on 51 different
players, 46 of them in league action, and while so many changes
disrupt continuity the experiments have largely been successful.
Consequently, Welsh will feel confident of settling on a side that
challenge for top position next season.
Finally the re-organisation of the league is not limited to the
two top divisions. Amidst a national restructure, next season will
see a new 16-team first division built around the five relegated
sides from this season’s National One and the bulk of what is
now National Two.