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Love is in the air at Aber

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Eurig Salisbury and Rhiannon Parry: On their wedding day in 2013,
they returned to the lecture room where they’d met as undergraduates

ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY recently set a mission for alumni to get in touch and share their romantic stories to celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day.

Couples who met and came together during their time at Aberystwyth University now have the chance, until St Valentine’s Day, to share their stories and photos on social media by using the #loveaber hashtag.

This is a unique and wonderful task created by Aberystwyth University, which has the aim of forming a visual record of the shared stories and memories from over the years.

Of course, there are no limits to the stories, which can include anything from walks along the promenade or even meeting by chance in one of the many lecture halls.

UMCA President Rhun Dafydd said in a recent statement: “Aberystwyth University attracts students from all over the world and not everyone is familiar with Welsh traditions.

“The legend of Dwynwen is ingrained in our folklore so today’s another great opportunity to celebrate our culture and share this special love story with our wider student community.”

Louise Jagger, Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Aberystwyth University, said: “Aberystwyth is an exceptional place to learn and live. Students not only have access to an excellent, research-led education, they also live in a very special place and are part of a very special community.

“It’s not surprising, therefore, that so many long-term partnerships are forged between our students.

“We have alumni all over the world who met here and who look back with very fond memories at their Aber days.

“We look forward now to hearing more stories about how they met and to see some of their memorable photos either from their time as students or their wedding day.”

St Dwynwen’s Day, also known as Dydd Santes Dwynwen, bases itself on the fifth century folk story of the Welsh maiden Dwynwen, one of the 24 daughters of Welsh king Brychan Brycheiniog.

Her life was seen to be a very tragic one as she fell in love with a man named Maelon Dafodrill at the same time her father planned for her to marry someone else she did not love.

As a result, Dwynwen was forbidden to see Maelon.

Because of this, she decided to turn to God in her hour of need and prayed for help to forget about Maelon. Then, an angel visited her in her sleep and gave her a potion to erase her feelings for Maelon and to turn him into a block of ice.

From then on, Dwynwen devoted her life to God and she was granted three wishes, which she used to ask for Maelon to be thawed, for God to meet the needs of all lovers and for her to never marry.

Dwynwen set up a convent on the island of Llanddwyn, off the Anglesey coast. The remains of the church can still be seen on the island, along with her well which is believed to be the home to sacred fish who can predict whether couple’s relationships will succeed.

A sign of a faithful husband is shown if the fish are seen to be active when visiting the well and has since become a place of pilgrimage for young Welsh lovers since Dwynwen’s death in the fifth century.

Eurig and Rhiannon Salisbury also met at Aberystwyth and recently celebrated the first birthday of their son, Llew. On their wedding day in 2013, they made sure their wedding photos also included the lecture room where they were first introduced.

Talking to The Herald, Eurig told us about his time at Aberystwyth University: “I came to Aber to study Welsh and Film and Television Studies, and stayed on at the Department of Welsh for an MPhil degree.

“After a brief spell as a translator for the Welsh Assembly, I spent nine years as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, and I’m now back in the university working as a lecturer in the Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies.”

Describing how they met, Eurig said: “Rhiannon and I met at the Old College when we were both students in the Department of Welsh. I remember arriving late to a lecture more than once and having to ask someone for paper and a pen, and it was Rhiannon (who’s much more conscientious than me) more often than not who helped me out!

“Rhiannon and I aren’t unique in this sense – I know of many, many other couples who first met in Aber, not only during their time at university, but both before and after.

“My younger brother included, who’ll be marrying later this year after meeting his wife-to-be, Alwen, when they were both students here!

“There’s something about Aber – maybe its apparent remoteness, coupled with the stunning views on the front – that’s uniquely romantic.”

“In your opinion, how important do you feel it is to celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day and to promote it to others?” we asked Eurig, to which he responded: “St Dwynwen’s Day can be, like all other ‘days’ for this and that, a bit gimmicky, but its unique Welshness is something to celebrate, I think. As well as the fact it’s always worth celebrating anything that’s to do with love!”

The Herald also interviewed James January-McCann, who met his wife during their student days at Aberystwyth University.

James said: “I’m currently in my second year working as a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Welsh at the uni, responsible for Welsh for Beginners and Modern Irish, following the completion of my PhD in the department.”

On his time studying at Aberystwyth University, James said: “I loved pretty much everything about studying in Aber: the friendliness of the town, the fact that the Welsh department has always felt like an extended family, the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Welsh language, and the fact that the unusually high number of Irish speakers means that you can actually spend a surprising amount of time speaking Irish in the area.”

James then described to us how he met Kate: “The story of how I met Kate is actually somewhat unromantic. It was during the first term of my first year, and I’d been to a lecture by Jordi Pujol, ex-president of Catalonia, run by the politics department, and was so tired that I’d actually fallen asleep in the lecture and started snoring loudly!

“I just wanted to go home afterwards and go to bed, but my friends Rick and John insisted that I go to Pier Pressure for the birthday party of one Rick’s girlfriend’s housemates.

“I refused, so they ended up physically carrying me into the club. I’m still not sure why the bouncers let us in. We met up with the girls and, as luck would have it, I ended up sitting next to the prettiest one, Kate.

“We got talking, and after a while she asked me to dance. I politely refused, explaining that I wasn’t drunk enough yet. Unfortunately, whilst what I meant was that, being a middle-class white man, I am completely unable to dance whilst even remotely sober, what she took from this was that I thought she was too ugly to dance with sober.

“Kate, understandably, flounced off, and as I watched her go, I thought to myself ‘what are you doing? She’s gorgeous’, downed my pint and ran out onto the dance floor after her.

“The rest, as they say, is history. We went back to her room in Pantycelyn and only noticed that we’d spent the whole night talking when the sun came up.

“After three weeks of impeccably teenage ‘oh my god do you think s/he really likes me?’, whilst our friends tore their hair out and shouted ‘of course s/ he does, you idiot – it’s obvious’, we got together and have been ever since.

“We got married in Aber four years ago and have a three-year-old son called Osian.”

On Aberystwyth University’s aim to create a visual record of the romantic stories of Aberystwyth couples, James said: “I like the idea of the university’s pictorial record of couples who met whilst studying here.

“I’m just somewhat jealous of couples who did it romantically, like my colleague, Eurig Salisbury, and his wife, who had their wedding photos in the lecture hall in which they met.

“Understandably, Kate and I didn’t want to have our wedding photos taken in the pier…”

Concluding the interview, The Herald asked James how important he felt it is to celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day and to promote it to others, to which he answered: “St Dwynwen’s Day is very important to us, because neither of us can stand St Valentine’s Day as it’s far too commercialised and ridiculous.

“We’ve celebrated St Dwynwen’s Day in the same way every year that we’ve been together, with a packet of Tregroes Waffles. One of the dinnerladies in Pantycelyn gave Kate a packet for us when they found out that we’d just got together, and we’ve kept up the tradition ever since.

“I think that we, as a society, should do more to promote St Dwynwen’s Day as something intrinsically Welsh, and considerably less rubbish than St Valentine’s Day.”

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Urdd Gobaith Cymru honoured at Young Peacemakers Awards Ceremony

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URDD GOBAITH CYMRU and its members have been crowned ‘Young Peace Activists of the Year’ at this year’s Young Peacemakers Awards ceremony, which was held at the Llangollen International Musical Festival today (7 July), for the organisation’s Peace and Goodwill Message.

Without fail for a century, the young people of Wales have sent a Message of Peace and Goodwill to the world. It is unique – Wales and its young people are the only country in the world that have communicated a global message of peace annually.

In celebration of the Urdd’s centenary year, the 2022 Peace and Goodwill Message was launched on 18 May in a dedicated event at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway in the company of the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford along with the Aberystwyth University students who helped write the message. After being released in video form, it was shared all corners of the world, from Peru to Zimbabwe, Vietnam to New Zealand and Moldova and was available in more languages than ever before – 101.

It was also revealed that the winner of the Young International Peacemaker category of this year’s Young Peacemakers Awards was Mah Zari Kakar, an Afghan refugee who resided at the Urdd’s Residential Centre in Cardiff last year. The Urdd nominated Mah for the award as acknowledgement for her tireless work campaigning for women’s rights in Afghanistan and her willingness to continue with these efforts in Wales.

Originally from Helmand Province in Afghanistan, Mah (who was 20 at the time) was forced to flee the country last August along with her brother. She had been working with USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development), holding sessions for women so that they understood their rights.

This year marks the seventh year of the Wales Young Peacemakers Awards, which is jointly organised by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA), Size of Wales, CWVYS and the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. Young people from all over Wales are celebrated for their positive contributions to peace and global citizenship, and winners receive prizes for artwork, creative writing, and film as well as their positive work as local and global citizens.

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Aberystwyth University’s 150th anniversary celebrations begin

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THE EISTEDDFOD chair awarded to a soldier who died in the First World War, together with other historical objects, will be central to Aberystwyth University’s activities at this year’s National Eisteddfod as it marks the start of its 150th anniversary celebrations.

The University was founded in 1872 following efforts to raise money locally and nationally to establish the first university in Wales, and this August marks the beginning of its 150th academic year.

On the Tuesday (2 August) of the Eisteddfod the University will launch a year of special anniversary celebrations. During the event on the University stand, there will be an opportunity to see a collection of items of historical importance to Aberystwyth University, including a statuette of the first Vice-Chancellor, Thomas Charles Edwards, and the prison badge of the former lecturer, poet and conscientious objector Gwenallt.

On the Thursday of the Eisteddfod (4 August), an event will be held to remember the stories of two students who won the chair at the College’s Eisteddfod in 1912 and 1914 – Gwilym Williams who was killed in France in 1916 during the First World War, and Dorothy Bonarjee, the first woman of colour to win it.

The eisteddfod chair won by Gwilym Williams will be on display at the University’s stand throughout the week. It is among 150 objects that will appear in a special volume called Ceinogau’r Werin / The Pennies of the People which is to be published in October as part of the anniversary celebrations.

Aberystwyth University Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure said: “The National Eisteddfod is a very important event for us at Aberystwyth University, and especially so this year: returning to Ceredigion for the first time in over a quarter of a century and being held in-person for the first time in three years. It is even more significant for us this year as we begin to celebrate our 150th anniversary – it’s an extremely exciting time.”

On the Sunday of the festival (31 July), an open day will be held at Pantycelyn Hall, offering the public and former students the first opportunity to visit the iconic student accommodation since it re-opened in its new guise in 2020 during the pandemic.

Professor Treasure added:

“Beginning our 150th anniversary celebrations is a unique opportunity to discuss the University’s rich history, as well as to look forward. We have seen many exciting developments here over the past few years. The re-opening of Neuadd Pantycelyn in particular, is one that stands out as exceptionally important – it’s such an important space for the language locally and nationally.

“As an institution, we have been growing, with the first and only School of Veterinary Science in Wales opening here last year, and nursing education starting for the first time in September this year. We have a great deal to celebrate at this year’s Eisteddfod.”

As well as the events on its stand, Aberystwyth University will host several events in the Learners’ Village and as the main sponsor of the Science Village on the Maes. The University’s Arts Centre will also host a ‘Salon de Refuses’ exhibition including art from the Eisteddfod.

Aberystwyth University events at the Eisteddfod (Stand M05)

On Sunday 31 July at 11:15am in the Pabell Lên, an event will be held by the University’s Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies to remember the life and contribution of Dr Tedi Millward with speakers including Bleddyn Owen Huws, Llio Millward, Cynog Dafis, Mark Lewis Jones and BBC broadcaster Huw Edwards.

From 2pm on the same day, there will be an open day at the refurbished Welsh-medium student accommodation, Pantycelyn Hall, in Aberystwyth.

On Monday 1 August at 2pm, a discussion ‘Education, time and place: Recent research on current issues in the world of education in Wales’ will be led by researchers from the School of Education on a range of research projects, including the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the education system, and the new curriculum.

On Tuesday 2 August at 11am in Pabell y Cymdeithas 1, a panel discussion will be held about reforming the Senedd with speakers including Siân Gwenllian MS, chaired by Dr Elin Royles.

An awards ceremony for the best Welsh learners in mid Wales will be held at 11:30am on Tuesday 2 August at the University’s stand.

At 15:30 on Tuesday 2 August on the University’s stand, in an event called ‘Hawlio Heddwch’, the Chair of Wales’ Peace Academy, Dr Rowan Williams, will give a summary of its work.

Later the same day an event will be held to launch a year of 150th anniversary celebrations, chaired by Dr Rhodri Llwyd Morgan in the company of Vice Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Anwen Jones and Professor Mererid Hopwood.

Dr Charnell-White, Rebecca Roberts, Professor Wini Davies and Rosanne Reeves will discuss women’s literature in Ceredigion at 12pm on Wednesday in the Pabell y Cymdeithasau 1 in an event entitled “Following Cranogwen: Publishing Women’s Literature in Ceredigion” held in conjunction with Honno Gwasg Menywod Cymru.

At 13:00 the same day, Dr Anwen Elias and Dr Elin Royles discuss the conclusions of a project about “The constitutional demands of European nationalist parties” in the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol Tent

On Thursday 4 August at 11am, a discussion will be held about the history of the two student poets who won the chair at the College’s Eisteddfod in 1912 and 1914 – Gwilym Williams who was killed in France in 1916 and Dorothy Bonarjee, the first woman of colour to win it. Dr Cathryn Charnell-White, Faeeza Jasdanwalla-Williams, Eurig Salisbury and Iestyn Tyne will speak at the event.

On Friday 5 August at 11am, Dr Elin Royles will hold a discussion with Mali Thomas from the Urdd, and a group of students who wrote the 2022 Peace Message on the theme of the climate crisis which was launched in Norway earlier this year.

A discussion between Dafydd Rhys, Eddie Ladd, Gethin Scourfield will be hosted by the University’s Theatre, Film and Television Department about the history of the Welsh music video, focusing on the history of Fideo 9, at 2:30pm on Friday 5 August in Pabell y Cymdeithasau 2.

On Saturday at 11am a discussion will be held entitled “Wales: Sanctuary Nation?” in Pabell y Cymdeithasau 1.

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Supporting Ceredigion’s small businesses at the Eisteddfod

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THE NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD OF WALES visiting Ceredigion will be an excellent opportunity to promote local businesses and boost the local economy.

In addition to the surge in visitors to the county, a number of Ceredigion businesses have taken advantage of the opportunity to sell their products at trade stands at the Eisteddfod.

Ceredigion County Council supports local/small businesses, and we are pleased that some have accepted the invitation to showcase their products in wooden huts at Pentre’ Ceredigion’s stand on the Maes.

We welcome the opportunity to show that Ceredigion is a good place to do business, and it will be an opportunity for the businesses to promote and sell their products.

Around 15 companies from Ceredigion will take advantage of the wooden huts during the week. These include Pethau Melys, Galeri Gwyn, Bay Coffee Roasters, CreatEmAber, Yoga Essentials, Canfas, Tonnau Surf, U Melt Me, Gwella, L P-D, Atebol, Coffi & Bara, In the Welsh Wind, Recover Eden, and Aberdabbadoo.

There will also be an opportunity for people to learn more about food and drink companies in the county during the daily cooking demonstrations at 11:30am in Pentre’ Ceredigion. Pop by for a treat for your tastebuds.

One local company who has taken advantage of this is the craft business L P-D. Lowri Pugh-Davies from Llangybi said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for my small business. I’m extremely grateful for the privilege and the chance to trade along with other businesses from Ceredigion, and only a stone throws away from my home. The experience will be even more special for me as this will be the first Eisteddfod where I’ll be taking a stand, and the biggest event for my small business. Thank you very much for the invaluable opportunity.”

Why not visit other areas in Ceredigion during the Eisteddfod period. You can get a glimpse of what the county has to offer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBFvGg23UqA

Councillor Clive Davies, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member for the Economy and Regeneration, said: “Ceredigion businesses have so much to offer and the National Eisteddfod’s visit to the county is a truly fantastic opportunity to celebrate and promote that. It will be lovely to see visitors venturing to every part of Ceredigion to get a taste and support local businesses, as well as finding interesting companies on the Maes itself. Ceredigion County Council is proud to support small businesses too by offering slots in the wooden trading huts during the week. Remember to drop by.”

You can see Pentre’ Ceredigion’s full timetable on our website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/eisteddfod

You can also download the Eisteddfod app and find more Information on the Eisteddfod’s website, www.eisteddfod.cymru, and follow us on social media:

Facebook: @CeredigionCountyCouncil

Twitter: @CeredigionCC

Instagram: @CaruCeredigion

Remember to share your photos too by using the hashtags #Steddfod2022 and #EisteddfodCeredigion.

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