In line with the advice from the Scottish Government, we have decided to cancel the AGM which was to have been held on Thursday 23 April. Not all our members have internet access, so please do pass on the message.
However, this doesn’t mean that we have stopped planning and preparing for our next season, when we will celebrate the Society’s centenary. Particularly as there will be no meeting, we need you to share your ideas, though this will have to be done by phone or e-mail. Please don’t be shy about this, but phone Jennifer or any other member of the committee!
Sunday 1 March 2020
Thirty members and friends responded to the invitation to come and sing hymns at our mini Gymanfa Ganu, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Huw and Janet Thomas again performed their ‘double act’, with Janet introducing the items and Huw presiding on the piano, once he’d reminisced about the Easter Gymanfa tradition among Llanelli Baptist Churches!
This year the focus was on hymns that hadn’t been sung during the previous two years. Though this removed many favourite tunes one might have expected to hear, such as Rachie and Calon Lân, the choice didn’t disappoint, and even included Trewen and Bryn Calfaria, these having previously slipped through the net.
As always, we learned new things about the creative people responsible for “the web of Welsh hymn-writing”, and this year we were introduced to the unusual numbering system used in the Society’s (Welsh Presbyterian) hymn books, with different numbers for the words and the tunes. So we sang one of Elfed’s hymns twice to different tunes – Huw playing a third tune that also fitted – and both (thankfully short) hymns to another tune. Harmony was achieved when we had sung twelve hymns and twelve tunes!
We also learned that “Love divine, all loves excelling” had been sung at Huw and Janet’s wedding but, while she remembered the words, he remembered the tune! This was of course Blaenwern, a tune by William Penfro Rowlands that dates from the Welsh revival of 1904–05, the name referring to the farm in Pembrokeshire where the composer convalesced in his youth. We sang Charles Wesley’s words in English, but this was the only exception, and we were even able to sing Stuart Townend’s “How deep the Father’s love for us” in a Welsh translation – it went remarkably well.
Jennifer Welsher made an appearance to thank everyone, and to make a plea for members to bring to the AGM their ideas for celebrating the Society’s Centenary year, and a most enjoyable occasion was suitably concluded around the tea trolley, which gave an opportunity to welcome some new and younger faces. Thank you to everyone who came, and to all the organisers, but especially to Huw and Janet.
Saturday 29 February 2020
This was the year that the wall came down! The Mortonhall Golf Club had to remove a partition to make room for our 50 members and friends, and the spaciousness was very welcome after the crush at the bar. Part of the reason for the larger numbers was that we were delighted to welcome family supporters from all over the country – as our President, David Hughes, reminded us at the start of the proceedings, during 2019 we had lost three Society stalwarts, Arthur Phillips, Stephanie Ledger and Keith Welsher.
After Grace (said by Margaret Brandie) and an excellent meal, David Hughes introduced our Gwr Gwadd, Professor Wayne Powell, who is Principal and Chief Executive of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). We learned of Wayne’s early days in the mining community at Abercraf, of his studies in Aberystwyth (where he played a lot of rugby!), and his first career teaching PE and maths in Reading (plus playing for London Welsh), before a switch of discipline to work with the Welsh Plant Breeding Station back in Aberystwyth.
Thereafter Wayne’s new career took off, with “memories of a great time” in 1980s Edinburgh, followed by a seminal year in Delaware, at the cutting edge of molecular biology and experiencing the open culture of US science at DuPont’s Wilmington facility. His moves thereafter gave him time in Cambridge and Adelaide, experience in managing change both personally and in institutions, and an enduring sense of the importance of food and of the great privilege of being able to use science to deliver practical benefits for agriculture and for rural economies throughout the world.
In his vote of thanks, Colin Mumford asked how any of us could match a life experience that included responsibility for a School of Wine (known enviously as the ‘School of the Good Life’) and offered mischievous suggestions as how improvements to grasses might aid our players!
David Hughes then thanked everyone for their contribution to the evening, and presented flowers to Jennifer Welsher, our Secretary and dinner organiser. Finally, as always, Jim Hughes and his friends led us in singing some favourite hymns and songs before “Mae hen wlad fy nhadau” concluded the evening.
Just in case you miss other mentions, our St David’s Day dinner is on Saturday 29 February at 7 for 7.30 – details at this link, and you need to have booked by Monday 24 February at the absolute latest – and our Mini Gymanfa Ganu led by Huw Thomas is at 3.00pm on Sunday 1 March. For the latter, you don’t need to book – just bring your best singing voice as well as a daffodil or leek!
Our St David’s Day dinner will be held at 7.00 for 7.30pm on Saturday 29 February at Mortonhall Golf Club, 231 Braid Rd, Edinburgh EH10 6PB.
We are delighted that our Gwr Gwadd this year will be Professor Wayne Powell, Principal of SRUC. “Wayne Powell is a native of Abercraf, Sir Frycheiniog and is a passionate follower of rugby. His personal research interests are at the interface of plant genetics, genome science, plant breeding and conservation of genetic resources, with a strong emphasis on the delivery of ‘public good’ outcomes.”
The cost is £27 a head and we need numbers and menu choices as soon as possible, but by Monday 24 February at the absolute latest. Contact us at moc.liamgnull@dccswe, or phone Jennifer Welsher on 0131 335 3161.
The menu choices are:
Smoked salmon with oatcakes or
Melon with orange coulis
Roast lamb with mint sauce or
Sea bass with lemon and herb butter or
Carrot and cashew nut Wellington (to be confirmed!)
all served with roast and dauphinoise potatoes and seasonal vegetables
Rhubarb crumble with custard or
Fruit salad and cream or
Tea or coffee and mints