On Friday 10 August at 11:00am on the Eisteddfod Maes in Cardiff Bay two of the pioneers and mainstays of the early days of the Welsh-medium pre-school organisation that evolved into Mudiad Meithrin will be honoured by the Gorsedd of The Bards for their contribution to promote the language and culture of Wales during the last 50 years.
Amongst those becoming Honorary Druids – Blue robes - for their services to the nation is Margarette Hughes, of Whitland, Carmarthenshire and Carole Willis, Y Groesfan, Pontyclun, Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Margarette has worked tirelessly on behalf of the pre-school sector in the area since she set up an Ysgol Feithrin (Welsh-medium playgroup) in her home in 1970 after she had stopped teaching to raise a family.
Margarette, said: “I was inspired to open an Ysgol Feithrin by Margaret Rosser, who started one in Church Village, near Pontypridd in 1964 when I was working at the local primary school.”
“After moving to Whitland I decided to start an Ysgol Feithrin in my home because there wasn’t any provision for the children of Whitland at that time. We charged ten pence for the children to come for two hours every morning to play with toys in the parlour, paint in the kitchen, play with sand in the conservatory and listen during story time in the lounge. Of course, I and the other volunteers had to spend every afternoon clearing up the mess, not to mention the efforts we made to keep the Ysgol Feithrin going by manning a second-hand clothes stall at Carmarthen market amongst other fund-raising activities."
“At the time only 7 children attended our Ysgol Feithrin but in time we had to move to the town’s Memorial Hall because of increasing attendance numbers.”
It was during this period that Margarette was elected as Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin’s (the precursor of Mudiad Meithrin) Carmarthenshire president. It was Margarette who also organised the first Welsh speaking crèche on the National Eisteddfod when the cultural festival visited Carmarthen in 1974.
“At the time the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) ran the crèche annually at the National Eisteddfod. Of course I wanted the service to be in Welsh. Following discussions with the WRVS we managed to persuade them to share responsibility for the crèche during the Eisteddfod at Carmarthen,” said Margarette.
“We were given a helping hand by a toy manufacturer and Trinity College, Carmarthen was kind enough to lend us a slide and other equipment for the crèche,” she added.
That same year, Margarette started working as a Welsh for Adults tutor in the evenings after identifying a lack of Welsh lessons locally, and she continues to teach three classes per week at the Hywel Dda Centre in Whitland.
Margarette returned to work as a primary school teacher in 1976 before retiring as headteacher of Llanboidy Primary School in 2002. She was also the president of Merched y Wawr between 1988 and 1990.
Margarette’s bardic name will be Marged Gwyn o’r Cwerchyr. Cwerchyr being the name of the river and home where Margarette was raised at Aberbanc, near Llandysul, Ceredigion.
Carole Willis, is an integral part of her community in Pontyclun. After learning Welsh and graduating in the language, she spent decades working with others to raise awareness and promote the language locally with a wide range of groups and Welsh organisations, over the years, including Mudiad Meithrin.
Carole, who taught at Cylch Meithrin Pontyclun during the 1980s, said: “Sending your children to Cylchoedd Ti a Fi and Cylchoedd Meithrin is the ideal way of giving them the best start on their journey to a Welsh-medium education.”
Mudiad Meithrin’s Chief Executive, Gwenllïan Lansdown Davies, said:
“We owe a great debt to individuals such as Margarette Hughes and Carole Willis that have worked so hard to ensure the growth of the provision of Welsh-medium care and education by laying the foundations for our work today. It is completely appropriate they have received this deserved recognition for their work by the Gorsedd of the Bards.”