Mary and her brother Maldwyn, at their Nain's house at Holyhead near Porth Dafarch
Last summer, we launched a competition which enabled thousands of people to share their memories of the Welsh Coast.
The competition judge, our Wales Director Justin Albert was kept busy reading the recollections, which were posted into our Facebook site and into special ‘message in a bottle’ signs at our most popular coastal places.
The winner was Mary Attwell, whose recollections of our beach on Anglesey, Porth Dafarch, are made all the more poignant since she is one of the Cymry oddicartref (Welsh abroad) living thousands of miles away in Tennessee, USA. Her prize, a guided kayaking expedition at our Pembrokeshire Stackpole Centre, will be claimed by her niece and family.
We were so captivated by Mary’s winning comment, we asked her to send us a bit more of the story, which I would like to share with you here:
“Hiraeth mawr a hiraeth creulon! [a great and cruel longing]. How I dream and long to return to the beach of my childhood when I would visit Nain [gran] in Holyhead during the summer holidays.”
“Most days would start with great activity in the kitchen, with cakes and biscuits in the oven and sandwiches in the tin. Off we would go in the Austin 7 to Porthdafarch where we seemed to have a special place to claim for the afternoon. It was an idyllic place for children, set in a cove with cliffs on either side, a good setting for adventures, and rock pools with seaweed and fish to fill our buckets. Parking was no problem, as not many came by car those days. Come rain, it was just as exciting to watch the rough seas while sitting in the car eating our sandwiches and biscuits.”
It’s hearing humble memories such as these that remind me how priceless our work is, as custodians of so much of the Welsh coast. Caring for “places of historic interest and natural beauty” is important enough; but looking after the source of a nation’s cherished memories? Well, that’s a responsibility beyond all else.