Lockdown inspires Bannau Brycheiniog Welsh language writers

With our annual feast of Welsh culture at the Eisteddfod Amgen’ having just ended, the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority has also been celebrating the Park’s culture by organising its first Welsh language writing competition 

Officers have recently had the greatest enjoyment reading the entries in the National Park’s first Welsh language writing competition. This was an opportunity for people to express what’s special about their local patch under the title ‘The Beacons and me’. The setting was the lockdown and the importance of our local areas which this experience has highlighted to many. The pleasure of reading the entries came from the sheer variety of responses which were jammed full of fascinating information and passion. 

The Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority would like to thank everyone who competed because without them there would have been no competition. Every piece was of a very high standard but we had to decide who was going to be awarded first, second and third prize in each of the categories: over 25 years, learner, 11-18 years old and under 11 years old. 

Bethan Price’s essay, which won the first prize in the over 25 years old category, focusses on the ancient and famous yew tree at Defynnog churchyard. To her the place is holy and the tree has offered ‘shelter to the nation’. As a coincidence it was her brother Rhys Jones who came second with his ‘Ode to the Summits’ which weaves the wildlife and landscapes of the Bannau Brycheiniog in with his Christian beliefs. Third came Katie Jones from Llangynidr who composed a lively essay expressing her love for her area around Llangors Lake and the Black Mountains. 

The winner of the learner category was Rachel Bedwin of Orpington, Kent who in her essay yearned to be in the outdoors again climbing, ‘breathing the mountains’ and enjoying the views. In her piece Jane Ricketts Hein of Glasbury, who came second, described the horizons she can see, which spoke of her pleasure of living amongst the Beacons in terms of their history, legends, wildlife and geography. We received a poem comparing the experience of living on a housing estate on the outskirts of Abergavenny with the beauty of the National Park from Simon Jones, who won the third prize in this category. 

The judges particularly enjoyed reading the entries form the young people. A ‘vers libre’ full of beautiful imagery about the Canal composed by Elena Puw was judged to be the winner in the 11 – 18 years old age group. The second prize went to Beca Hiscocks who revealed her love for her valley, Cwm Senni in her essay. Two ‘englyns’ composed by Elena Puw again, celebrating Llyn y Fan Fach won the third prize. Her brother Iolo fully deserved the first prize in the under 11 category for his poem about a duck hitching a lift on the roof of a barge on the Brecon Canal. 

Councillor Edwin Roderick, Welsh Language champion for the Brecon beacons National Park Authority said: “I would like to thank everyone who competed and to congratulate the winners who each receive a gift voucher to be spent at the National Park Visitor Centre. We have so much to celebrate here in the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park in relation to the landscape, wildlife, history and culture and it’s excellent to do this in Welsh”. 

Siân Shakespear, the Authority’s Welsh Language Officer said: “It has been a source of pure pleasure adjudicating these entries and by doing so gathering a store of lively descriptions about the varied corners of the Park. We’re looking forward to reading the entries for the 2021 competition!”