Discussing fond memories

Seion Chapel, Llandysul would be one of the most unlikely first topics of discussion when the Caernarfonshire FUW Senior County Executive Officer, Gwynedd Watkin, met Mabon ap Gwynfor, Dwyfor Meirionnydd Member of the Senedd recently on a farm. But that's exactly what happened.

During his conversation with Mabon, Gwynedd explained that his father, the late Reverend John Watkin, was the minister of Seion chapel between 1964 and 1972, where Mabon's father is now the current minister, the Reverend Guto Prys ap Gwynfor.

This is not the only coincidence in terms of both their backgrounds. When Gwynedd's family left Llandysul, they moved to Morriston in the Swansea Valley where his father became the minister of Tabernacle chapel. Years later Mabon's father became minister of Hebron chapel in Clydach, also in the Swansea Valley, before they moved to Llandysul.

Gwynedd said: “I was so pleased to meet Mabon and to have the opportunity to reminisce on so many fond memories of my time in Llandysul and the Swansea Valley. We have both been influenced by fond memories of our time in Llandysul and the Swansea Valley before our careers led us to other parts of Wales.


From education to agriculture

by Llinos Angharad Owen, Tir Dewi and FUW member

There is so much talk these days about the word "diversification" but what does that really mean? Well, it broadens experiences or it means changing from doing one thing to doing something completely different. This is exactly what I did two years ago and completely changed direction from education to agriculture.

I was in education for over twenty years as a teacher, Assistant Headteacher and then Head in Charge at a secondary school in Gwynedd. Then followed a period of working as a Children in Care Education Officer with Conwy Council, and then really deciding that I wanted to help on our family farm and diversify the business. We now have two holiday homes that offer a bilingual service and we educate our visitors about our history and culture here in rural Snowdonia. We, along with a group of friends, have also set up an international shears competition, "Cneifio Gelert" which is going from strength to strength.

Working at home on the farm with my husband Gareth in the heart of the Snowdonia countryside has been an eye opener for me in terms of not only the farming industry, but also the farming community. The pressure, paperwork and endless changes all come with their own challenges. During the past year we have all faced very unexpected challenges in our lives as a result of the pandemic. We have all had to adjust our daily lives and some of us are feeling more isolated than ever before.

Agriculture secures another professional international prop

by Angharad Evans, Welsh Language Communications Officer 

It’s always a pleasure to take pride in the achievements of our young people, and Cornel Clecs has a very special story for you this month, one that also has a very special connection with FUW. I'll explain more about this later.

Let's get to know one of the rugby pitch's newest stars. But it's not just the rugby field that interests a hill farm girl from Snowdonia, and the story starts on the farm yard.

Having experienced sheepdog trials international success, Gwenllian Pyrs is one of the first women to be selected to play rugby full-time professionally for Wales.

Gwenllian is one of 12 women recently awarded a full-time contract by the Welsh Rugby Union. It's a huge change for the girl from Padog near Ysbyty Ifan in the upper Conwy Valley who has now moved to Cardiff to be able to train daily with the Welsh squad.

One of ten children, Gwenllian grew up on Ty Mawr Eidda farm and has rugby in her blood.  All five of her brothers and four sisters have played for, or still play for Nant Conwy RFC. Two of her sisters, Elin and Non have played for the 'North Wales' team and Alaw, Ifan, Maredudd and Rhodri have played for 'Eryri'. They follow in the footsteps of their father Eryl, one of the founders and former captain of Nant Conwy RFC.

"'Nant Conwy' is much more than a rugby club," said Eryl. "It is an important social club, with the Welsh language being a natural medium for activities and training and a way for the area’s youth to have a completely natural social life through the medium of Welsh. A very high percentage - around 80% of the members come from an agricultural background and is an important medium for the country and town to come together.

Training opportunities exist for young farmers

by Rosie Davies

I’m a farmer’s daughter, born and bred on a beef and sheep farm near Llanelli in Carmarthenshire. Farming is an important part of my life, and goes back many generations of the family over the years. Being brought up on a farm in the countryside has helped me choose the kind of path I want to follow in the industry.

As part of my GCSE’s, I decided to study level 2 Agriculture at Coleg Sir Gâr, Gelli Aur. After finishing school, I went to Gelli Aur College to study level 3 in Agriculture full-time, and then finished by studying a Foundation Degree in Agriculture and Animal Science where I graduated during summer 2021.

During my time at college, I enjoyed every second of the learning and the social side. It was a privilege to visit the different farms and see the systems they operated, and also learned a lot of the practicalities, much of which I can use to improve the system and the way our farm is run. I enjoyed the social side by meeting and working with people across the county, and made lifelong friends in the process.

In 2019, I had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand with the college. We spent three weeks visiting different farms, agricultural businesses and also staying overnight on farms to help and learn about their lifestyle. During the three weeks we started our journey in Auckland and travelled down the 'North Island' and then crossed to the 'South Island' and finished in Queenstown. The highlight of the trip for me was visiting Mount Linton, the largest beef and sheep farm in the 'South Island'.

“We’re ready for a full year of competitions and socialising in 2022”


by Anna Jones, YFC Marketing and Communications Officer

After two strange years of virtual meetings and competitions for the Young Farmers' Clubs, it was lovely to see our members back again in a busy and packed programme towards the end of last year.  Looking back at the end of 2021, it’s clear that the YFC is ready for 2022 - a year full of competing, adventures and socialising.

There was talent galore on display at the YFC Eisteddfod on the 20th of November, at Bont Pavilion, Pontrhydfendigaid. The Eisteddfod was hosted by Brecknock YFC, Mr David Price was the Eisteddfod Chairman, and Mrs Lynne Griffin and Mrs Ceri Havard were the Eisteddfod Presidents. Pure entertainment from start to finish, with prizes being won by clubs from all over Wales.

The Chair was designed by Rhianwen Jones, a member of Sennybridge YFC, skilfully crafted by David Davies of Hay on Wye, and the Chair was won by Yr Adar Gleision, Ianto Jones of Ceredigion YFC. Carwyn Jones of Rhosybol YFC, Anglesey was the proud winner of the Crown, again designed by Rhianwen, and crafted by Brân Davies, Ysgol Calon Cymru, Builth Wells.

The Denbighshire FUW Trophy, for the winning Federation in the homework section, was awarded to Ceredigion and Montgomery as joint winners of the section, with Carmarthenshire Federation winning the Elonwy Phillips Shield for the stage competitions.

At the end of the event, many clubs had the opportunity to celebrate their victories, but only one federation was the overall winner. Carmarthenshire was in third position, Ceredigion in second position, just short of victory. The winners of the Mansel Charles Shield were Clwyd YFC.

Oinc Oink and the oink oinks going from strength to strength

by Angharad Evans, Welsh Language Communications Officer

Happy New Year, and welcome to the first Cornel Clecs column of 2022 - let’s hope that we’ll all have a full year of good health, success and happiness.  

One North Wales family enjoyed great success and happiness when competing at the first Royal Welsh Winter Fair held after Covid. Huw, Ela, Emyr and Anest Roberts of Pwllheli are enjoying considerable success in the pig world, with their company Oinc Oink now a well-known brand providing local Welsh pork and breaking new ground within the catering industry.  

Here’s Ela to explain a bit more about Oinc Oink's background: "The desire to keep pigs started after attending the Winter Fair in Builth Wells in 2006," explains Ela. "In March 2007, we bought two pregnant Welsh gilts, who had piglets in May, which we fattened and sold the meat to family and friends. During this time the idea of ​​establishing a company was developed and Oinc Oink came into existence.

"Although there was no intention initially to show pigs at shows, we did attend the Spring Fair in Builth Wells in 2008, with two gilts. We had great success and we caught the showing bug.

"Fast forward to today, we have won the main championship at the three shows held annually in Builth Wells (before Covid). In 2016 we had the privilege of winning Pedigree Pig Breeder of the Year, hosted by the British Pig Association (BPA), at a national awards evening in London. We have also had success with our produce receiving a Gold award for our sausages as well as winning Supreme Champion for our Welsh pork and cheese sausages throughout Britain and Ireland.  

“In 2014 we embarked on an initiative of pig roasting, which is now a very important part of Oink Oink. We have travelled as far as Coventry and Birmingham with our pork, but most events are local to North Wales, from weddings, birthdays, food fairs, and even funerals.”

“Countryside and agriculture are the beating hearts of our language, our culture and our communities”

by Gareth Thomas, Vice Chairman Anglesey FUW

The last two years have highlighted the importance of agriculture within our communities, as we all fight a new virus, and see significant changes to every aspect of our lives. There is no doubt that there needs to be a focus on the smaller and local supply chains, and continue to produce the highest quality food.

In these challenging, changing and unknown times, every farmer rolled up his sleeves to carry out the extra work that accompanied the fast demand for food in a productive and outstanding way, and I greatly admire those who work within this amazing industry.

But, although as an industry and as farmers, we are treated as the creators of the world's problems, the reality is quite the opposite. As farmers and as an industry, our roots are the bedrock of the guardianship of our natural resources, not the destroyers as others point out, and, indeed, the heartbeat of our language, culture and communities.