Eirlys Britton from Cardiff, is the winner of this year’s Sir T.H. Parry-Williams Memorial Medal, and she receives the medal for her tireless work in the Pontypridd area for over thirty years. Originally from Cardiff, Eirlys was one of the first pupils at Ysgol Rhydfelen in Pontypridd before graduating in Drama from Trinity College, Carmarthen. She was an enthusiastic and influential teacher at Ysgol Heol y Celyn near Pontypridd before joining the cast of Pobol y Cwm portraying Beth Leyshon for a number of years.
Eirlys is probably best known for her work within the folk dancing world, and her interest stems from her period as a young teacher at Heol y Celyn, where she was also a successful recitation coach (first and second language Welsh), dancing and action songs. This interest led to the creation of Dawnswyr Nantgarw in 1980 with her work colleagues and parents from the school.
Eirlys’ aim in creating Dawnswyr Nantgarw was to resurrect some of the old traditions and dances of the Taff Valley and Glamorgan, and to include young people, both Welsh speakers and non- Welsh speakers. Dance proved the perfect medium to bridge across language and social barriers, and was also an opportunity to nurture young musicians, encouraging them to join the experienced musicians at Dawnswyr Nantgarw, offering opportunities and memorable experiences, whilst promoting traditions and representing their country.
Eirlys was also responsible for creating the dance now seen during one of the main ceremonies on the National Eisteddfod Pavilion stage. The dance seen on Wednesday afternoon during the Prose Medal ceremony is an opportunity for young people from the catchment area to showcase their talents on the Pavilion stage and to attend the Eisteddfod. Eirlys will receive the Medal during a special ceremony on the Pavilion stage.