Welsh Award Ceremony 2018

Presentation of Welsh winners’ work 2018 | Photo: Körber-Stiftung
Presentation of Welsh winners’ work 2018 | Photo: Körber-Stiftung

On 6 July 2018, the prizewinners of the Welsh history competition received their awards at the Glyntaff Upper Campus of the University of South Wales in Pontypridd. About 5,400 young people participated in this year’s competition and set out to research on the topic of “My Heritage”.

Since 28 years, the competition has been organised by “The Welsh Heritage School Initiative” (WHSI).

Presentation of Welsh winners’ work 2018 | Photo: Körber-Stiftung
Presentation of Welsh winners’ work 2018 | Photo: Körber-Stiftung

One of this year’s prizes went to the “Hafod Primary School” in Rhondda for their work “A Class in Time”. Finding original school logbooks from 1878 inspired the whole school to research and study the school’s history. Each class studied a particular 30 year period. The children compiled questions and initially concentrated on their own family’s experiences connected to the school. The major impact of two World Wars on the local community and the devastating floods of 1960s were central to the project. Logbooks and registers were used together with books, old newspaper reports, online resources and visits to the nearby local heritage museum. Families and friends in this close-knit community shared memories including a former pupil of the school now in her 90s and a local historian. A coffee morning brought the community together and an online local history Facebook group brought together the memories of a wider audience. The pupils shared their work with the community during a second coffee morning.

The Welsh competition defines heritage in a wide sense: They include people and their social history, religion, traditions and culture, the world of work, agriculture, industry, finance, commerce, science, technology, arts and sport.  The topics chosen by the participants are as varied as the chronological periods researched by them. They range from looking at an individual, a building or a local event to much broader social and political themes and developments.

In a message to the Welsh Heritage School Initiative, HRH The Prince of Wales, stated: »Heritage is not just a relic of the past. It evolves and involves the continuation of activities of people at their place of education, employment and workshop; in the fields of arts, entertainment and sport and in the pursuit of their hobbies. An awareness of heritage can create an awareness of community and, for young people looking to the future, what could be more appropriate than an understanding of their past.« Source (http://www.whsi.org.uk/thehistoryofwhsi.html) This quote pointedly sums up the mission of the WHSI.

WHSI was established in 1990 as a body that is entirely funded by donations and run by a committee of unpaid volunteers. Benefactors range from large companies and charity foundations to local history societies and individuals. Since its foundation, WHSI has organised the history competition for schools that culminates in an award ceremony every year in July. Today, the project is among the biggest competition projects within the EUSTORY Network concerning the number of participants and the participants’ age range.

In times of Euroscepticism and the Brexit, projects that reflect perspectives on local, regional, national or European identity in Britain might be more important than ever. Alun Morgan, one of the competition organisers at WHSI, explains: “All of us involved with WHSI are aware that our young people are growing up in both an ever-changing Wales and a rapidly changing world. We aim at encouraging teachers and pupils to get involved in exciting projects: We have no “hidden” agenda to promote any specific local or national sense of identity at the expense of another. We firmly believe that the activities and projects WHSI promote are a means for young people to develop a sense of place and perspective for themselves and to understand Wales in the wider world.”

The Welsh competition is open to all learners aged 3-19, regardless of their academic ability. There are four categories: Infants (3-7 years), juniors (7-11 years), secondary (11-18 years) and special schools (3-19 years). The details of the competition are sent out to schools in early autumn. In late spring, each school is visited by a judge who speaks to the teachers and pupils involved in the project and thoroughly looks at at the work carried out. Increasingly, much of the work is presented in digital format, but contributions can also be in the form of a drama,  musical representation or an exhibition. The jury awards marks out of a 100 on the presentation of the results.

Find out more about WHSI here

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