St David’s Day

SThis year our St David’s Day Dinner was a bit different. There was no dinner!

On Friday 26th February, we were very fortunate to have Dr Rowan Williams, the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, address our St David’s Day gathering.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we were unable to meet in person. So, our meeting was the ‘Not St David’s Day Dinner’ as it wasn’t St David’s Day, and there was no dinner, but we had an excellent meeting anyway.

Janet John acted as technical host for our Zoom meeting and we met at 7:30pm with a welcome from our Chairman, followed by two 10-minute breakout sessions where we were able to chat to about half a dozen other members and catch up on local news.

At 8pm David Powell then introduced Dr. Williams and thanked his cousin Cathy Young for facilitating the talk. Cathy and Dr. Williams share an interest in Religious Icons, like the one shown above, which Cathy painted.

Dr. Williams spoke on the subject of ‘The Age of the Saints in Wales: Fact or Fiction?’, a very suitable subject for St David’s Day.

Dr. WilliamsDr. Williams told us about the early church in Wales and how there was a surprising amount of movement of people and ideas between Wales, Ireland, Cornwall and Brittany. The Christians of the time (500 to 700 AD) thought themselves the successors of the Roman tradition, as opposed to the largely pagan influx of Angles and Saxons. Gravestones of the time frequently contain complex Latin verses and Hebrew Christian names.

He spoke of Welsh saints such as St David, St Gildas, St Samson St Asaph and others.

Monasteries were centres of learning, but were not great stones built buildings but more like villages, and these were in touch with each other across Wales and to Scotland, Ireland and Brittany as a sort of Christian Celtic commonwealth around the Irish Sea.

Dr Williams 2There were very many Saints in Wales, and one of the reasons for this was that at the time, there was no central control from Rome and sainthood was determined locally in Celtic churches and was often given to the founder of an ecclesiastical settlement (llan). It wasn’t until the middles ages that there was a central role in determining sainthood.

We then had about 15 minutes of questions and answers, with mention of the Illustrated Manuscripts of St Chad’s Gospels and the pre-Roman druids.

David Powell led a vote of thanks for Dr. Williams, who then joined us in two further chat sessions in breakout rooms, which gave some of us a chance to talk to him on a personal level.

We finished off the evening with Jonathan Pegler playing the National Anthem and a selection of hymns.

Dr. Williams asked that instead of a fee, a donation should be made to Christian Aid.

A recording of much of the evening is available on YouTube, please click on the link below:

St David’s Day Dinner 2019

At Harewood Downs Golf Club – Friday March 1st 2019

And here we had the appearance of our own Rumpole of the Bailey in the form of Welshman, His Honour, Judge Tudor Wyn Owen FRAeS, now retired, He was educated at Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School and King’s College London (LLB). He was called to the bar at Gray’s Inn in 1974 and gained an excellent reputation in Aviation Law and Crime. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, Freeman of the City of London and Liveryman and past master of the Worshipful Company of Pilots. He served as a Recorder on the South Eastern Circuit from 1991 to 2007.
As a true Welshman, his anecdotes of his experiences as a pilot, his knowledge of technical jargon, his ready wit and delightful humour in accounts of his dealings with miscreants as a Judge were a delight to the ear. His experiences with Juries, his acknowledgement of learning most from cases which arrived at a wrong decision (in his estimation) were delivered with the rapidity of a Spitfire Browning Machine gun! He was very much thanked for his attendance and his ability to engage his audience in a most delightful and informative way!

His address, of course came at the end of the Dinner that started with a convivial reception at the excellent venue of the Harewood Downs Golf Club where national flags were prominently displayed. The sumptuous 3 course meal (finished with Coffee and Mints) was well sampled and enjoyed by all present where Mains were chosen from Lamb Rump, Roasted Salmon Fillet and Confit Duck Leg, Wine was in full flow, and conversations raged at each of the tables! (If ever you want to know how a social occasion is progressing, listen to the music of the conversations!!). No-one seemed to share any grief for the English who had been so roundly conquered by the Welsh Rugby Team in the International at the Millennium Stadium the previous week (poor dabs!)

Just before people were ready to depart, Pianist John Breeze struck up on the keyboard in true Canu o’r Galon (“singing from the heart”!!) vein with Calon Lân as a starter and then we progressed meritoriously through the usual classic full bodied and blooded Welsh Songs and Hymns that always adorn our functions, using “song sheets” provided by Gwyndaf, and augmented by the sonorous tones of a melodic tudor Judge. We finally ended up with a great rendering of Delilah! (I seem to remember the ground actually shaking in parts of the voluminous dramatic delivery done in fortississimo(FFF)!!!)

A marvellous convivial occasion that was enjoyed by everyone and we look forward to …yn dathlu Dydd Gŵyl Dewi eto y flwyddyn nesaf mewn arddull debyg! (…celebrating St Davids Day again next year in similar style!). Well done, David, Mr Chairman and to Kay & Gwyndaf for organising such a successful event.

Barrie Reece

Many more of Barrie’s pictures can be seen here!

St David’s Dinner 2018

After the snow reduced the number of attendees for our Christmas get-together, we had to postpone our St David’s Day Dinner as snow again threatened to prevent people attending, so we bravely chose Friday 13th April instead.

The Committee debated what to call our delayed event: CDWS Spring Dinner 2018, the Spring Dinner, the Postponed St David’s Day Dinner?  In the end we stayed with the St David’s Dinner.

While some of our members couldn’t make the new date, fortunately both our singer, Meilir Jones and Iain Ledingham, acting as accompanist, were able to attend. Others who couldn’t make the 1st March could attend for the new date. In the end we had a headcount of 70 – not bad.

Arriving at 6:30, it was a pleasure to see Harewood Downs in the daylight, as it was still light and we were able to admire the fine views over the Misbourne Valley.

The staff were very attentive and we were greeted with a glass of Prosecco or a non-alcoholic alternative while we assembled and met old friends and welcomed new members.

When we found our places at the tables, Gwyndaf John said grace in Welsh, but before he did so he explained the origin of the poem and the rules of the poetic style in which it was written (somewhat similar to a Japanese Haiku), giving it its unique style.

Our menu choices were cleverly printed out for each table, so that that would be no arguments about who had selected which dish – thanks to Graham Beavan.

The food was very good with main course choices of lamb shank, gammon or hake. Everyone was pleased with the quality and service.

After dinner, Kay introduced our entertainment for the evening, Meilir Jones (Baritone), accompanied by Iain Ledingham.

Meilir was originally from Llangefni on the Isle of Anglesey and is one of the first recipients of an award from the Bryn Terfel Foundation. He is currently engaged in postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Iain Ledingham is a Professor at The Royal Academy and also founded the Amersham Festival of music.

Meilir sang a variety of baritone works ranging from opera, to welsh folksongs and even a Shakespearean sonnet. These were all enthusiastically received by the members, who all called for an encore.


As the evening came to a close, Barrie Reece stepped up to the piano and played a series of welsh favourites with many of the society joining in.

At the end of the evening, we all thought that it was another successful St David’s Day – even if it had been delayed by six weeks!




St David’s Day 2017

On a dark but not quite stormy night, 77 members of the CDWS crowded into the premises of the Harewood Downs Golf Club to Celebrate St David’s Day on the 25th  February. The ladies dressed like brightly dressed birds and butterflies as usual outshone their dinner-suited companions. It is an interesting phenomenon that in the animal world it is the male who puts on his best plumage and prances around to attract the female of the species but in the human world, .the roles have somehow become reversed.

There was a flutter of anxiety amongst the assembled throng when as 7.00pm approached and there was no sign of the distinguished guest, Mt Huw Edwards. Our photographer, David Powell, hovered on the porch and it was with great relief when a tall, tanned figure appeared to be greeted by Kay Day, Chair of CDWS. It always a surprise to see a celebrity in person such as Mr Edwards, who  is usually seen on the BBC’s ‘News at 10’ sitting down, because one is not aware that he has quite long legs under the desk.

Huw Edwards with President Ann evans

Huw Edwards with President Ann evans

Jean Owen (left) – Welsh cakes baker!

The dining room was gaily decorated with Welsh flags and bunting, put up that morning by Maldwyn Pugh, who must have risked life and limb in doing so, and the very appropriate vases of daffodils dancing in vases on the tables. Gwyndaf John said the Grace in Welsh but prefaced it with an abbreviated English translation. The meal was served with great efficiency and accuracy by the golf club staff following the complicated menu choices of the guests which Graham Beavan, treasurer, who was the author of the table plan and spreadsheet of the meals to be provided. No-one therefore who had ordered the lava bread for the first course got the terrine, nor got the sea bass instead of the lamb nor the chocolate fondant (delicious, by the way) instead of the Bara Brith pudding. Everyone, however, got the Welsh cakes homemade that morning in Jean Owen’s kitchen.

Huw Edwards with Chairman Kay Day

Huw Edwards with Chairman Kay Day

Kay introduced Huw Edwards as the well-known broadcaster and journalist and also spare-time organist when rose to provide the post-prandial entertainment.





To the horror of the non-Welsh speakers in his audience he began in Welsh and continued in Welsh for long enough for them to begin shuffling their feet in dismay. However, this was just a ploy on the speaker’s part to remind everyone that the occasion was to celebrate a Welsh Saint’s Day and not to dwell on the collective sorrow as a result of that afternoon’s Six Nations Rugby game in Scotland.




Reverting mainly to English, Huw ranged over .a number of subjects beginning with the risks he faced from comments from a licence-paying audience, such as the person recently who had commented that the advent of wide screen television hadn’t paid Huw’s image any favours, or the listener who had remarked on Huw’s commentary for the broadcast of the Queen’s Jubilee Celebrations that he, Huw, had said very little but the listener stated ‘That’s how I like it!’

Huw enumerated the risks the present audience faced from him, that is, that he would go on far too  long because  with the subject of  Dewi Sant (St David) ,we would find him something of an ‘anorak’. He gave a brief history, necessarily so because little is known of the facts of St David’s life which included an excursion to Ceridigion (Cardigan for the uninitiated).

When he asked if there were any members of the Society present who confessed their allegiance to this part of Wales (one confirmed she belonged to the North London Ceredigion Society to gasps of amazement). He said that it was Edward Lhuyd (1660-1709) who stumbled across the earliest evidence of David when on a visit to the church at Llanddewi Brefi in Ceredigion.

After a diversion describing the beauties of Cardigan Bay, the speaker related the simple way of life followed by St David, on a diet mainly of vegetables and water (as someone remarked, the original 5-a-day man) and quoted a saying of his as follows:

‘If you want to live a virtuous life, it is the simple things that matter.’

At which point, many in his audience must have been regretting the amount of food and fine wine that they had already been consumed that evening.

Huw Edwards with Anne Thomas

Huw Edwards with Anne Thomas

Huw continued with his regret that the many of the societies which maintained their links with Wales were disappearing which is why the CDWS should be cherished. He highlighted the London Welsh Society of which he was the current president saying he was delighted that young people were becoming members with the introduction of large screen television and the cheapest’ booze’ in London.

He praised the CDWS website which he had visited when he had accepted the invitation to speak and had been impressed with the range of activities which its members were  involved in

He ended his talk with remarks about the changing way that news is consumed now compared with the past with the introduction of smart phones, etc. Inevitably this means that watching television or listening to the radio is not a communal activity any longer but nevertheless, the BBC News at 10 programme still commands a sizable audience. He cited the mistake that ITN had made in changing its time slot for its evening news and warned that ITV was trying once more to invade the BBC programming space. He compared the BBC with the bias of newspapers in certain directions and the tendency for people to buy the one paper whose opinions they most agreed with, the term ‘fake news’ hovered on his lips with an indirect reference to current events in the USA.

He ended on this serious note but responded to a questioner to relate the most memorable experiences for him in his career. These featured Afghanistan and Iraq during the respective wars, the 2012 Olympics in sport, and in politics, the departure of Mrs Thatcher from Downing Street and the Blairs arriving after the landslide Labour victory in the election in 1997.

Kay Day wound up the evening with thanks to the staff at Harewood Downs who had worked hard to provide us with a delicious meal in a welcoming environment, the committee ladies who had arranged the flowers, Maldwyn for the decorations and Jean Owen for the Welsh cakes, and in particular, Steve Rowsell for being instrumental in inviting Huw as guest speaker.

A rousing rendition of the National Anthem was sung with John Breeze on the piano which I noticed Huw Edwards didn’t sing (he must know the words!).

Huw spent some time chatting to many members of the society, but finally goodbyes were said and the final photographs taken before our distinguish guest drove away into the night.



Later, song sheets were handed out and, with John again at the keyboard, many a rousing song was sung out.


Elan Preston-Whyte.

P.S. There are more photographs of the night here.

St David’s Day Dinner 2016

Saint David’s Day Dinner
On 1st March we held our annual St David’s Day dinner at the Gerrards Cross Golf Club.
We met at 6:30 to give us a chance for members to catch up with friends both old and new and chat over a glass of bubbly or orange juice.










At about 7:15 we went into the dining room and Chairman Kay Day greeted a record turnout of 84 people and welcomed 5 new members.






P1060058There was then a chance to chat to our neighbours at the table. At our table we wished Eilwen Turner a happy birthday as she was born on St David’s Day.
The food was excellent featuring Welsh Lamb Rump (of course) or Haddock as an alternative.
Liz Seely, who was sitting next to me, said that her food was the best she’d ever had in any golf club – up to gourmet standards!


I went round and took some pictures of people sitting at their tables.P1060060


There are more pictures on the ‘gallery’ page of the web site.










Kay then introduced our soprano, Alys Roberts, accompanied by Iain Ledingham at the piano.P1060071


Iain, who lives locally, is a professor in the piano, vocal and opera faculties at the Royal Academy of Music. He coaches many young Academy singers and pianists in preparation for operatic and concert work, and also trains and conducts choirs. Alys is one of his most promising young students.




Alys studied music at Durham University and is now at the Royal Academy. She has been a solo soprano at Durham Cathedral and has sung at many other locations.


Alys entertained us, starting with some Welsh folk songs, and then moving on to a selection of operatic arias including pieces from La Boheme, Romeo and Juliette.

I particularly liked her version of Summertime in Welsh. Alys finished with some more Welsh folk songs, this time as arranged by Benjamin Britten.


Kay then thanked our musicians and presented them with small tokens of our appreciation.

Alys and Iain stayed on for a while to chat to people before they left.










Meanwhile, our stalwart singers prepared themselves.P1060085

I’m afraid that my party were feeling a little tired, and needed to leave at this point, so I am unable to report back on the quality or quantity of the singing, but based on previous years, I’m sure that a great time was had by one and all.

St David’s Day Dinner 28th February 2015

Our annual Dinner to celebrate our patron saint was held at the Gerrards Cross Golf Club.

We all met at about 6:30pm, with a few stragglers coming in a few minutes late, flushed with the news that Wales had defeated France in the Six Nations 20-13 in Paris.

Chairman Jonathan Pegler and President Ann Evans

Chairman Jonathan Pegler and President Ann Evans

We were greeted with a glass of bubbly, which gave us time to chat to old friends, catch up on news and find out where we’d be sitting.

Over 70 people attended, a very good turnout and we filed into the dining room at about 7:15 to find our places among the 8 tables.

Our President, Ann Evans said grace and we sat down to dinner.

The menu was a little different this year with a choice of Ham Hock Terrine or Stuffed Mushrooms, Welsh Cawl or Salmon en croute, Crème Brulee or Welsh Cake Bread and Butter pudding followed by Coffee and mints. The food and service were excellent, as usual at the Golf Club.

Jonathan Pegler introduced our guest speaker, the Right Honourable David Jones, MP for Clwyd West and until last year, Secretary of State for Wales.P1050649

David Jones gave us an entertaining talk, starting by telling stories about his hero, Winston Churchill. Entering parliament had been David’s ambition since he was a child. His Ministerial and parliamentary career had led to travels around the world, giving rise to some unexpected experiences and amusing anecdotes for his appreciative audience. He finished his speech by saying how proud he was of his Welsh antecedents and revealing his passion for keeping the United Kingdom together.

He mentioned that, with the election coming up he was looking forward to the canvassing, especially as it gave the opportunity of going out and meeting people outside the political circle.

Rob Britton, who himself had been a parliamentary candidate, gave our thanks for such an entertaining and enlightening talk and we then all sang the Welsh National anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.

Later, we gathered around the piano with our song sheets to sing along whilst John Breese played many of our old favourites.

Click on the link below to download a video of the singing:
We’ll keep a welcome

John Breese at the piano

Or just listen to us sing I bob un sy’n fyddlon here:

See more photographs of the evening

Comments about the evening included Muriel Knight “A very successful evening with an interesting and entertaining speech” and Frank Birbeck said ”Good food, good company, nice wine – I’ve never had a bad evening with the Welsh Society”.

Our thanks go to the staff at the Golf Club and to Gwyn and Jean Owen for arranging the evening.

St David’s Day 2014

P1040638This year’s St David’s Day dinner was the best attended yet, and what an enjoyable evening!

Eighty four people attended our event on 1st March at Gerrards Cross Golf Club. We all gathered about 6:30 for a glass of bubbly and this year Gwyndaf provided name badges, which were particularly helpful for our newer members (or people like me who can always remember a face, but not always the name to go with it).

P1040644The meal included a really delicious Welsh lamb steak, preceded by a prawn tart and finished off with a good old fashioned sponge pudding with custard.

After the meal we were entertained by the lovely Rhiannon Llewellyn accompanied at the piano by Peter Foggit.

Rhiannon told us tales about her background (including Wales & Chalfont St Peter) and the fact that she used to be taught by Jayne Pegler.

P1040654A wonderful operatic soprano, Rhiannon will this year be the guest soloist for the London Welsh Festival of Male Choirs at the Royal Albert Hall. She gave a charming and captivating performance covering a varied programme, ranging from Puccini’s La Boheme to Gershwin’s Summertime. I think that most of the men in the audience liked the pieces where she played the ‘vamp’ and teased various gentlemen in the room singing amorously at them (soprano/lap dancer she says in a recent tweet).


P1040660Jonathan Pegler thanked the pair, Rhiannon was presented with a bouquet of flowers, and Peter with a bottle of wine.



Afterwards everyone gathered around the piano where song sheets were distributed and Jonathan played many of our old favourites.

Overall – an excellent evening of singing!



St David’s Day Dinner Notice 2014

Our St David’s Day Dinner on Saturday 1st March will be held at Gerrards Cross Golf Club.

The entertainment will be provided by Rhiannon Llewellyn, a prize-winning young Soprano with local connections.84201_orig
Though born in Swansea, she was brought up and went to school in Chalfont St Peter, where members of her family still live. After obtaining a degree at The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and an MA at the Royal Academy of Music, she is currently on the Opera Course at the Royal Academy. She will be guest soloist at the London Welsh Festival of Male Voice Choirs in October. A Welcome drink will be served from 18.30pm with Dinner from 19.15pm.

As for last year tickets are £40 per person. A three course meal will be served, with tea/coffee & mints to finish. Wine with the meal is not included in the ticket price but can be purchased on the night from an excellent selection available.

Song-sheets and a piano will be ready for our usual rousing finale, so all we need is for plenty of members and guests to turn up in good voice!
Cheques should be made out to the Chiltern District Welsh Society, and sent to: Mr Graham Beavan, The Wicket, Keepers Lane, Hyde Heath, AMERSHAM HP6 5RJ.

To book or for any queries call Gwyndaf on 01753 884490.