St David’s Day Tour of Melbourne by Rhys Meirion, President of Wales International
The relationship between the Welsh Chapel in Melbourne and the National Eisteddfod here in Wales is something we need to celebrate and praise. It’s a great example of how establishments here in Wales and international festivals can work together, and I’m sure it’s a great role model to follow and it would be fantastic to see more partnerships like this.
As Steffan is a tenor, we went out as the three tenors and we were looking forward to the warm welcome in Melbourne. I’d had the opportunity to perform there in 2016 and I knew that the Welsh in Melbourne were extremely welcoming and friendly.
When we arrived, two very special people came to meet us, Christine and Fred Boomsna, they had organised everything and we went with them to our temporary home in Melbourne, an apartment in Findlers Lane.
Ilyd Ann and Dewi her husband had arrived two weeks before us, Ilyd was there to lead the Gymanfa and lead the Melbourne Male Voice Choir in a special St David’s Day concert in the Melbourne Recital Center. Dewi was there to carry all her music copies!
In order to get to know everyone, the chapel members took the five of us for a trip to the beach and for a barbecue, of course! We had lots of fun and sang a few songs together with our new friends. We had the opportunity to go into the sea too, but not too far in as Aled is scared of sharks!!
Eating!! Waw, a major part of our welcome was feeding us, at every opportunity! A real welsh trait that made us all feel very at home.
We had a very special sermon to celebrate St Davids Day at the Welsh Chapel, led by Minister Siôn Gough Hughes. The flag was raised by Ilyd Ann and the three of us sang together and individually.
The Gymanfa was the highlight of the trip, with about 1,000 welsh expats in the audience. Some had travelled from all corners of Australia and New Zeland and some form Wales too. The singing was amazing, this type of Gymanfa only happens at the National Eisteddfod here in Wales now, but it’s really special.
A huge thanks to the Welsh Chapel in Melbourne for the warmest welcome, I’m sure I can speak on behalf of the three of us and Ilyd and Dewi as I say that we had an unforgettable time in your company, and I’m sure we would all jump on a plane again if the opportunity arises in the future.