As part of Volunteer Week, we are featuring a story each day from a volunteer, where they share their experiences of Llangollen International Eisteddfod.
So, this year would have been my 24th year at the Llangollen Eisteddfod. Not missed a single year, coming here as a punter, performer and volunteer.
The first few years of my life it is honest to say that I can’t actually remember attending.
My years through primary school I can remember very well. In primary school the Eisteddfod meant to me 2 days off school. It wasn’t until I was in my final year that my school made the trip to the field, despite being so close in Garth. I would spend time with Mum at the Eisteddfod watching the competitions, browsing the stalls, watching the evening concerts or just being a mini tag-along steward to Mum.
When I was eight I was honoured with the role of presenting flowers to Rhys Meirion. I can still remember that role – a white rose for him, a red rose for his pianist followed by a curtsy to the audience. It is the curtsy part I remember so well as after doing it the audience “awwwd” – the embarrassment hit me and still remains etched in my memory.
When I was 9 (Year 4), my school was part of the Peace Message. I was in the choir. I can remember learning Make Me a Channel of Your Peace in Welsh and being so chuffed when we performed it on stage having learnt all the words. In addition our school had a drum part which we performed, consisting of numerous international percussion instruments.
Entering Dinas Brân meant I was assigned to the role of Usher. Ushering was great fun – especially when you got assigned a door with my mates or some of the more “interesting” stewards.
In 2009, I spent the Eisteddfod weekdays helping out in the Friends’ Tent, making tea, coffee and serving biscuits to anyone who visited. This was the year I perfected making a good brew.
Since 2010, I have been volunteering backstage in the Pavilion with the sound crew Wigwam Acoustics. The role doesn’t just involve walking on and off stage with a mic or two but there is much more that goes on behind the scenes that you don’t see. The week starts the weekend prior to the Eisteddfod kicking off. I’m part of the crew setting up all the audio equipment in the Pavilion and the system that relays the main broadcast around the site. Then as the week begins I am on-site for long days – from the competitions at 9am through to the get-out of an orchestra after the concerts are over in the evening. Working backstage has meant I am able to say I have worked with well-known performers from Mcfly and Status Quo to Karl Jenkins and Jools Holland.
Working so closely with the sound and backstage crew for the last 9 years has created great friendships which I have carried forward into my professional life as I now work as a sound engineer in Manchester.
The skills learnt from my many years at the Eisteddfod have opened up work opportunities touring the UK with orchestras, music festivals, TV productions and with the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. As busy as I am especially during the summer months, the Llangollen Eisteddfod is still the week I look forward to most in my calendar.
Eluned Ashwood, Volunteer
Sound and Backstage Crew
Did you know it takes 800 volunteers to put on a successful Eisteddfod?
United in their dedication to the festival and all the good that it stands for, volunteers give up their time and talent during the year and many travel long distances to help during Eisteddfod week. Would you like to join them?