A reverend who doubles as a Squadron Leader in the RAF, a singer who unexpectedly shared the stage with Alfie Boe and a woman who moved 6000 miles to be closer to the festival she loves are just a few of the new trustees of the internationally renowned Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
Chair of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod Sarah Ecob said, “We are delighted to welcome our new Board Members who bring a range of new talents and deep knowledge of the Eisteddfod to our Board. This will be invaluable as we continue our programme of recovery and growth. We would like to thank the outgoing Board Members, all of whom will continue to be active within the Eisteddfod structures”
The trustees have joined the team as the Eisteddfod, which started in 1947 to promote peace, faces huge financial challenges. The new trustees were directly elected by company members and all bring different types of expertise. Collectively, they will be stepping up to the breach left after the difficult financial decision to make the Executive Producer role redundant, previously held by Camilla King.
No nonsense Reverend, Rebekah Canon is no stranger to the arts. The ‘tuk tuk’ driving RAF Chaplain trained as a professional Actor and Theatre Director. She worked internationally in Thailand, Bali and Russia on multi-disciplinary, large-scale performance and events. She is now an RAF (Anglican) Chaplain who has made Llangollen her home with her partner Gerallt.
Rebekah, who loves gardening and jumps out of planes for fun said, “I am utterly thrilled to be involved in contributing towards the future of the International Eisteddfod. It is a unique event that has directly contributed to making Llangollen such a special place. The heartbeat of our town is synonymous with the diversity, inclusivity and artistry of the Eisteddfod and I’m focused on seeing that continue for generations to come. To play a key role in safeguarding our peace festival that welcomes the world to Llangollen every year is an amazing privilege.”
Shea Ferron, at 20 is already a well-known figure in Llangollen. In May, he was a member of the John’s Boys Chorus who reached the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent. The drama student is a former Choir of the World winner and joined Alfie Boe on stage in July to rapturous applause. Shea is the youngest ever Trustee at the Festival and has been involved in the festival, in various guises, since childhood. Shea is combining his work as trustee with studying in his final year at The Institute for Contemporary Theatre in Manchester.
Shea said, “The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, like the arts, is in my blood. Since I was a youngster, it has been a major part of my life. Some of my first memories are from this inspirational festival. I am both honoured and grateful to be joining the board of trustees at such a critical point in the Eisteddfod’s 76-year history, ensuring the festival is here for generations to come.”
The strengthened board have already held a huge open evening, bringing together the committees and volunteers (many new to the Eisteddfod); that saw dozens of supporters brainstorming ideas to safeguard the future of the festival. The board have additionally already met several times as they put planning in place for next year’s festival. Fundraising plans are being finalised as the team work to ensure the future of the festival.
Another familiar face joining the board is Selana Kong, who loved the Llangollen Eisteddfod so much that herself, her husband Bill and son Daniel relocated 6000 miles just to be closer to it. For years, Selena and Bill travelled over from Hong Kong to volunteer. Now they live within walking distance of Llangollen’s Royal International Pavilion and Selana wants to reach out across the world to continue the Eisteddfod’s peace tradition.
Selana, a professional coach, mediator, and consultant said, “The Llangollen Eisteddfod is an amazing festival and in a polarised world, our message of peace and unity is as vital today as it was in 1947. I want to continue the tradition of our festival reaching out to the world. Bill and I fell in love with the Llangollen Eisteddfod and frequently travelled back to volunteer. In 2019, we decided to cut the commute and move here lock, stock and barrel. When I was asked to stand for election to the Eisteddfod Board, I jumped at the chance. It is an amazing opportunity to give something back to the festival that changed our lives and ensure it can continue to change others.”
Other new members of the board include Allison Davies, a former teacher at Ysgol Dinas Bran who has been heavily involved in the festival for decades, and Karen Price; who has been involved in the festival all her life – first helping with the famous flowers and more recently as Chair of Competitor’s Committee and the UK Competitor’s Liaison Officer. Communications professional David Hennigan has also been elected on to the board. He first sang at the Llangollen Eisteddfod in 1985, met his wife at the festival and has now relocated to the beautiful town.