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Chairman's Report 2018

Kettering & District Eisteddfod
Although there were fewer days and far less entries than usual there was a wonderful atmosphere throughout the 2018 Festival. The 109th Eisteddfod, at its various venues, had many very fine and even outstanding performances.

As always our aim was to “Celebrate the Arts” in style and at the Celebration Concert we were entertained by some of the best. Commenting at the end I said that I felt certain that our predecessors would approve and be pleased that their Eisteddfod has survived as long as it has.

Once again I thank the two churches, the Salvation Army and Toller URC, for making us so welcome and for affording us every facility.

Our three adjudicators were superb and it was a privilege for us to welcome them and to work alongside them. I know that their comments and encouragement were welcomed and valued by the competitors.

Every competition has its winners of course and some high marks were awarded. There were some wonderful young people - and those not so young (!) - who worked so hard in preparation and performance and learned a great deal. Here I pay tribute not only to their dedication but also to their families, who do so much to encourage them, and to their teachers who pass on the required skills so well.

On the days of the Festival, when all is ready, we rely heavily on an army of loyal friends – our officials, trophy carers, stewards, caterers and other helpers. Without them its smooth running would not be assured. I say thank you to them all and also to the accompanists at musical events.

Festivals such as ours do not just happen and careful planning has to be done well in advance. The committee I serve alongside is both dedicated to the Eisteddfod cause and is very hard working. To every member I express my sincere gratitude for all that they have done.

  • I make no apology for singling out certain individuals:
    • Dick our treasurer to whom we send our good wishes and hope that he gets the treatment he requires to get better very soon. Despite his condition he has made certain that all accounts are in order and have been independently examined for presentation at this AGM.
    • Linda and the late Margaret, the sectional secretaries, and their assistants who coped admirably once more but had a thankless job this year in the build up to the Festival dealing with withdrawals and having to chase up people for not providing the required information.
    • Roger our IT expert has done sterling work yet again and as well as maintaining our website has provided all stationery, presentations, schedules and programmes as well as updating records and making sure that new and continuing legislation has been followed. He has provided great support for us all and especially to his wife Penny our Festival Secretary.
    • Penny has worked so hard yet again to be certain that the Eisteddfod was able to function as well as it should. She has done this wonderfully and in her stride has coped with the added legislation, cancellations, criticism and questions that the role seems to demand. Her report has outlined the difficulties that have been encountered.

To all these I say a sincere and heartfelt “thank you”

A great shock to us all was the untimely and sudden death of our dear friend and colleague Margaret Read. Perhaps I should pause here so that we may remember her ………………………
Her Memorial Service was so well attended and surely was a measure of the high esteem in which she was held. Of course representatives of the Eisteddfod, school and other organisations she was associated with were in attendance. The choir was provided by the Seagrave Singers of which she was a member and the colours of the Rothwell Girls’ Brigade were trooped. Rothwell Methodist Church membership was acknowledged as was her involvement with the Church drama group and the playing of a piece of music entitled the “Rowell Fair March” reflected her local heritage.

A former headteacher of Rothwell Victoria Infants’ School, Christine Chittock, wrote to me and I use her words as they encapsulate so much about the person and teacher that Margaret had been:

“Margaret was a wonderful, devoted and conscientious governor at Rothwell Victoria Infants. She always took an interest in everything we did and as well as being a governor she volunteered in the school. Margaret introduced the Eisteddfod to us and because of her, our children entered the Speech and Drama sections and were successful in their individual entries. I too took an interest and also entered in the adult sections. Margaret made many visits to the school to support and encourage the children with their entries helping them to practise and perfect them. Margaret helped to bring out the best in the children and because of her they developed in confidence and learned how to recite poems from memory with appropriate diction. The children loved their time with Margaret and looked forward to her visits”

Indeed Margaret was a very special person, so generous with her time and expertise and totally dedicated to the Eisteddfod. (No doubt she inherited her love of speech and drama from her mother who had been involved for so long before her own death.) It was a most important part of her life and each year she thoroughly enjoyed the preparation for it, the choosing of pieces, the timetabling and the performances themselves. During the week she was in total control, so well organised and was self-sufficient as far as catering was concerned always being supported by her own Church friends from Rothwell.

I shall remember her with great affection. She was always the same towards me whenever we met. No matter what we discussed she steadfastly refused to be too bothered about the new-fangled electronic devices (computers, emails, word-processing and the like) and in the nicest possible way she frustrated me by choosing to ignore for the most part the introduction of safeguarding procedures and other legislative nonsense seeing them as totally irrelevant to her mission and her great interest in life, Kettering and District Eisteddfod.

On the service sheet was this translation of an ancient Chinese poem:

She took her light
And went into another room I cannot find;
And yet I know that she was here,
Because of all the happiness
She left behind.

The world is a poorer place with Margaret’s passing. May she rest in peace!

As you all know my great fear is for the future of this great organisation of which we are the custodians. For a long time now an agenda item at meetings has been “The Way Forward”. The discussion has been difficult at times when sentimentality and reality have been put into their contexts and been the foci of much debate.

The committee was told in no uncertain terms that all should be ashamed of themselves for even considering that closure could be a possibility. This I know is resented by the majority who have searched their hearts and know that with changing times, lack of entries, awkward legislation and other items already heard and those that may be discussed later, it has to be contemplated.

We began life with the Sunday School Movement in the 1900s – where is that movement today? Times have changed and it has to be accepted that what was conceived over a century ago, continued to develop greatly during a time when instrumental work, singing and the dramatic arts were well taught and valued may now no longer be relevant following such a major decline and changes in attitude. Closure is an option and cannot be ruled out. Although their enthusiasm and love for the Eisteddfod has never diminished the committee realise this and would rather it end well than suffer collapse.

As we left the last committee meeting Margaret Reed’s last words to me, in the hearing of others, were that what had been said about not letting the Eisteddfod flounder and, if needed, ending on a high was absolutely correct!

On everyone’s behalf I thank the head of St Peter’s School for allowing us to use the building here and acknowledge the constant support that has been given to us all.



Chris Jervis, Chairman
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