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Friday, December 15, 2023

Teenage Eisteddfod winner from 1956 still returns as volunteer

* Myron Lloyd at the Pavilion with her mementos of the time she became the face of north Wales after her 1956 competition win.

·    A woman who became “the face of north Wales” after winning a singing competition at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod nearly 70 years ago still returns there each year as a volunteer.

As a teenager Myron Lloyd travelled from her home in Pembrokeshire to compete in and eventually win the Folk Song Solo category at the 1956 eisteddfod.

As a result of her victory Myron – then known by her maiden name of Williams – was snapped by a number of cameramen as she celebrated out on the field.

Then sometime later and back in south Wales the farmer’s daughter, who is now in her 80s, was quite shocked to see that a picture of her taken on the day wearing the traditional Welsh costume of high hat and ornate shawl had gone viral 1950s style and started to appear on a wide variety of merchandise promoting north Wales.

Myron, who now lives in Ruthin, recalled: “After I won the competition there was quite a clamour on the maes for people to take my picture, which I thought was fine.

“It was then pointed out to me about a year later that my picture and others similar ones taken at Llangollen, were appearing in guide books on north Wales and other merchandise such as coasters, place-mats and even compasses and egg-timers mounted on little pieces of wood.

“People seemed to like them and my mother bought two of everything, so I still have some of the stuff years later.

Myron Williams, as she then was, in Welsh costume for the picture which went viral 1950s style.

“Everybody used to say that I must have been paid for the use of my picture but I never made a penny out of it. In fact, I didn’t even know the names of the photographers involved.”

Myron went on to marry a police officer and the couple spent 53 happy years together before he passed away eight years ago.

Because of his job they moved quite regularly to police accommodation in various parts of Wales, in later years living in Corwen and then Ruthin.

In the 1970s Myron decided she would like to compete at Llangollen again and whereas back in the 1950s her winning entry consisted of two traditional Welsh folk songs sung in Welsh, this time she chose to perform an old Welsh carol and another entitled The Mother-in-Law’s Complaint in the Adult Folk Song category.

But the result was the same as a couple of decades earlier – another victory.

By the 1990s, with her competition days over, Myron returned to Llangollen in a different role, as a volunteer member of the publicity committee then later the marketing committee.

And she still returns each year to be part of the Croeso Team which provides a welcome to sponsors of the festival during Eisteddfod week.

Myron says she understands and agrees with the changes that are being made to the Eisteddfod to help it survive and thrive in the wake of last summer’s financial crisis.

“Something had to be done. The changes being made, including the concerts now being announced with so many stars such as Tom Jones, Madness, The Manic Street Preachers and others, are necessary to help improve the financial position situation,” she said.

“But it’s also very important to keep some of the traditions such as the folk competitions which are very essence of the Llangollen Eisteddfod.”

Over the years Myron has seen – and often met – some of the big names who have headlined at the festival, including Welsh icon Shirley Bassey, Spanish soprano Montserrat CaballĂ© and the Red Army Choir.

In 2024 she says she’s looking forward very much to seeing, and perhaps meeting, Sir Tom Jones. But she added: “I just don’t know if that’s going to be possible but I certainly hope so.”  

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