Eisteddfod Legend Takes Centre Stage

Welsh Books Council

Eisteddfod Legend Takes Centre Stage - 05 December 2008
Eisteddfod Legend Takes Centre Stage

Relaxing doesn’t come easy to Aled Lloyd Davies. This is a man who has devoted his life to eisteddfods large and small, cerdd dant, music shows and conducting male choirs. How he also found the time to hold down the time consuming and demanding job of Headmaster at Ysgol Maes Garmon, Mold, is a mystery! However, with the publication of his autobiography, Pwyso ar y Giât (Leaning on the Gate) (Gwasg y Bwthyn), this multi-talented man of learning and song takes a well-earned breather to reflect on his busy life.

From the theatres of Canada and Patagonia to meeting Margaret Thatcher in 1984, Aled Lloyd Davies has experienced a great deal, both as headmaster and conductor. His writing style in this book reflects his own nature, which is very much about ‘not taking life too seriously’.

However, the work of putting the autobiography together was no walk in the park, and particularly of researching the family tree, he said,

"Family  Algebra  is what I call it! I didn’t enjoy this part of the job at all! Mathematics and me do not get on, simple as that!" Despite this, seeing how everyone was related became a fascinating detective story.

There are two families; the Llwyds, and the Dafis. We are given an insight into these families and how his personal traits come to the fore as he explores the personal stories of individual family members. 

It was easy recalling the tales, "The stories kept coming!  It helped of course that I was related to characters such as Llwyd o’r Bryn and Tecwyn Lloyd. They certainly had the gift of the gab! They could grab your attention for hours as they recounted tale upon tale, and that’s why those stories have stuck with me all these years."

His childhood began in Brithdir, near Dolgellau, and then Corwen, his college days were spent in Aberystwyth, and he then spent two years in the armed forces, before starting his career as a teacher in Birkenhead. To keep his ‘hiraeth’ at bay he became involved in the local Urdd groups, but it wasn’t long before he returned to Wales to teach at Ysgol Brynhyfryd, Ruthin. Ten years later, he was offered the opportunity to become head of department in a new school in Mold, Ysgol Maes garmon, and eventually became headmaster. 

Throughout his busy life, music has been a constant; from cerdd dant to conducting Meibion Menlli, and the large number of songs and musical shows he composed alongside Rhys Jones. As if that wasn’t enough for one man, his tireless commitment to the local community is legendary, mostly through his work with the local ‘eisteddfodau’. 

2007 saw the National Eisteddfod visit Mold, his own square mile. Aled Lloyd Davies threw himself into the task of making this event a particularly special one, so much so that he felt a sense of loss when the whole thing was over!! And this, perhaps, was the catalyst for him to start on his autobiography.

"2007 was an incredibly busy year for me, and I felt guilty once the Eisteddfod was over, thinking I should be doing something! Writing this autobiography came out of the blue and in a way, it was great to have something concrete to get on with!"

"I don’t take life too seriously! Life’s too short to worry unduly about things and keeping things secret. I believe if you are worried about something it is better to share it but happiness should be shared too!"

He certainly shares a great deal of happiness in this autobiography; and while the author admits the emphasis is on happy memories this was never the plan.

"It’s quite odd, but I don’t remember many bad things happening. There must have been some, but I must have filed them in some dark corner somewhere as it is only those things that have made me laugh that stick with me, which is no bad thing I suppose!"

With his ability to turn his hand to most things, he finds it hard to pick one highlight from his life, but in the end he admits teaching was his main delight and it was during his time as headmaster of Ysgol Gyfun Maes Garmon that he and Margaret Thatcher’s paths crossed briefly,

"A fellow headmaster and I would often pull little pranks on each other and when I received a phone call in 1984 to say Margaret Thatcher would be visiting I took it as just another wind up. However, three days before the ‘visit’ the police came to the school to check everything was OK. I knew then this was no joke! I remember saying to her at one point, ‘Prime Minister I think we’re running a bit late’. She responded by telling the assembled children that I was bullying her and asked if I bullied them in the same way! She wrote a very complimentary letter after the visit which I have enclosed in the book. I may have left teaching way back in 1985 but I still miss the children to this day, and no I did not bully them!"

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