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Appeal to find competitors who took part in the first Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in 1947

A music loving 92-year-old great-grandmother is spearheading an appeal to find veterans of the first ever Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in 1947.

Llangollen Eisteddfod Pictured is Eisteddfod volunteer Moira Humphreys
Llangollen Eisteddfod Pictured is Eisteddfod volunteer Moira Humphreys

Retired teacher Moira Humphreys was a member of the Coedpoeth Youth Choir who took to the stage at the inaugural festival which was established to promote peace in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Moira, who lives near Wrexham, was just a teenager when she attended the first festival in 1947 and since then has spent the following seven decades as a volunteer at eisteddfod – working with the hospitality team.

Now, preparations are underway for this year's festival which starts on Thursday, July 7, and culminates with Llanfest on Sunday, July 10, when the eisteddfod will be joining forces with the Llangollen Fringe Festival.

And organisers are planning to present Moira and surviving fellow competitors from the historic first eisteddfod with commemorative medals to mark the 75th anniversary of the event.

Eisteddfod volunteer Moira Humphreys, 92

Moira, who has two daughters, grandchildren and a great-grand child said: “It would be nice to know there are veterans like me still out there. It is a such gracious idea to recognise them in this anniversary year.

“The first festival was held in 1947 but in the couple of years leading up to that there was a lot of hard work put in, fund-raising locally and logistical planning, all of which helped to make it the success it has become today.”

Moira Humphreys with some of the many cuttings she has from a lifetime’s involvement with the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

Performers from seven overseas countries braved the journey to Llangollen for the inaugural festival, with about 27 choirs from Wales, England, and Scotland.

Moira has a large collection of memorabilia including past programmes and newspaper cuttings which she often looks at to refresh her memory of past eisteddfods.

One of Moira's cuttings, pictured: Hilda Edwards Choir Conductor, Francis Mon Harpest and Louie Parry accompanist, 1947

She was overjoyed to have seen the late opera icon Pavarotti walking round the eisteddfod field as if it was a home from home when he returned as a superstar in 1995.

During the four-day event this year there will be a host of attractions and activities on the outdoor site, including music, dance, talks, comedy, food, drink, shopping, workshops and pop-up entertainment.

In the evenings there will be concerts featuring the singing duo of Aled Jones and Russell Watson and Anoushka Shankar, the British-Indian-American sitar player, producer, film composer and activist.

On the Saturday night there will be a performance from Choir of the World and the contest for the Pendine International Voice of the Future featuring young singers from around the world.

Camilla King, the eisteddfod’s executive producer, said: "We are hugely grateful to Moira for helping in our bid to track down people who competed at the very first festival in 1947.

The Coedpoeth Choir which competed in 1947 – and went on to win at the National Eisteddfod in Colwyn Bay that year.
The Coedpoeth Choir which competed in 1947 – and went on to win at the National Eisteddfod in Colwyn Bay that year 1947

“Clearly, their numbers will have dwindled over the years but, as we are celebrating such a momentous milestone, we would like to celebrate the important part they played in creating history and generating new hope at a time when the world was still reeling.

“One thing that has been steadfast is the ethos of harmony and friendship which was at the heart of the very first eisteddfod, with the aim of promoting peace and healing the wounds of World War II.

“Our philosophy is as important now as ever given the invasion of Ukraine and other troubling issues affecting the world today.

“That’s why we are thrilled to be able to welcome international competitors back to Llangollen so we can bring people together in a spirit of friendship and harmony in every sense of the word.”

Vocal Waves Maseru Lesotho in 1995 who stayed at Moira's home in Coedpoeth

Organisers have appealed to anyone who thinks they know someone who competed at the first Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in 1947 to contact Ceidiog Hughes on ceidiog@ceidiog.com.

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