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Friday, September 1, 2023

Eisteddfod welcomes six new trustees

* RAF chaplain Rebekah Canon can often be seen around Llangollen in her tuk tuk.

* Shea Ferron brought the house down at Llangollen 2023 with his surprise rendition of Bring Him Home with Alfie Boe.

* Bill Kong, new trustee Selana Kong, former chair Phil Davies and new trustee Allison Davies.

A churchwoman who doubles as a Squadron Leader in the RAF, a singer who unexpectedly shared the stage with Alfie Boe and a woman who moved 6,000 miles to be closer to the festival she loves are amongst the new trustees of Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

The Rev Rebekah Canon is an Anglican RAF chaplain who trained as a professional  actor and theatre director - and is often seen around Llangollen at the wheel of a gaily-coloured tuk tuk vehicle.  

She worked internationally in Thailand, Bali and Russia on multi-disciplinary, large-scale performance and events. She has now made Llangollen her home with her partner Gerallt.

She said:  “I am utterly thrilled to be involved in contributing towards the future of the International Eisteddfod.  

"It is a unique event that has directly contributed to making Llangollen such a special place.  

"The heartbeat of our town is synonymous with the diversity, inclusivity and artistry of the Eisteddfod and I’m focused on seeing that continue for generations to come. 

"To play a key role in safeguarding our peace festival that welcomes the world to Llangollen every year is an amazing privilege.”

Shea Ferron, at 20 is already a well-known figure in Llangollen.  

In May, he was a member of the John’s Boys Chorus who reached the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent.  

The drama student is a former Choir of the World winner and joined Alfie Boe on stage in July to rapturous applause.  

Shea is the youngest ever trustee of the Eisteddfod has been involved in the festival, in various guises, since childhood.  

He is combining his work as trustee with studying in his final year at The Institute for Contemporary Theatre in Manchester.

Shea said: “The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, like the arts, is in my blood. Since I was a youngster, it has been a major part of my life. 

"Some of my first memories are from this inspirational festival.  I am both honoured and grateful to be joining the board of trustees at such a critical point in the Eisteddfod’s 76-year history, ensuring the festival is here for generations to come.”

Another familiar face joining the board is Selana Kong, who loved the Llangollen Eisteddfod so much that she, her husband Bill and son Daniel relocated 6,000 miles just to be closer to it. 

For years, Selena and Bill travelled over from Hong Kong just to volunteer.   

Now they live within walking distance of Llangollen Pavilion and Selana wants to reach out across the world to continue the Eisteddfod’s peace tradition. 

Selana, a professional coach, mediator, and consultant, said: “The Llangollen Eisteddfod is an amazing festival and in a polarised world, our message of peace and unity is as vital today as it was in 1947.  

"I want to continue the tradition of our festival reaching out to the world.  Bill and I fell in love with the Llangollen Eisteddfod and frequently travelled back to volunteer.  In 2019, we decided to cut the commute and move here lock, stock and barrel.  

"When I was asked to stand for election to the Eisteddfod Board, I jumped at the chance.  It is an amazing opportunity to give something back to the festival that changed our lives and ensure it can continue to change others.”

The strengthened board has already held an open evening, bringing together the committees and new volunteers, that saw dozens of festival supporters brainstorming ideas to safeguard the future of the festival.  

The board has additionally already met several times as they put planning in place for next year’s festival.  

Fundraising plans are being finalised as the team work to ensure the future of the festival.

Eisteddfod chair Sarah Ecob said: “We are delighted to welcome our new board members who bring a range of new talents and deep knowledge of the Eisteddfod to our board.  

"This will be invaluable as we continue our programme of recovery and growth. We would like to thank the outgoing Board Members, all of whom will continue to be active within the Eisteddfod structures."

The trustees have joined the team as the Eisteddfod, which started in 1947 to promote peace, faces huge financial challenges.  

The new trustees were directly elected by company members and all bring different types of expertise.  Collectively, they will be stepping up to the breach left after what festival officials describe as the "difficult financial decision" to make executive producer Camilla King redundant in August. 

Other new members of the board include Allison Davies, a former teacher at Ysgol Dinas Bran who has been heavily involved in the festival for decades, and Karen Price who has been involved in the festival all her life – first helping with the famous flowers and more recently as chair of Competitors' Committee and was the UK competitor’s liaison officer.  

Communication’s professional David Hennigan has also been elected on to the board.  He first sang at the Llangollen Eisteddfod in 1985, met his wife at the festival and has now relocated to the town. 

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