A national women’s organisation that began in the Bala area will be celebrating its golden anniversary in style thanks to a trailer company.
Merched y Wawr marks its 50th birthday this year and a series of exhibitions is planned to mark the event.
But transporting the panels which form the exhibition around the country posed a problem for organisers until Ifor Williams Trailers stepped in to loan them a large enough trailer.
It was a fitting contribution to the celebrations as Merched y Wawr was born in the village of Parc, near Bala, just a few miles away from the company’s headquarters in Cynwyd, near Corwen.
To mark the anniversary each of the movement’s 13 regions was asked to create a handmade panel depicting their areas, all in specific colours. Other panels depict the national organization, the magazine Y Wawr, and the Clybiau Gwawr.
The exhibition will be launched by the Welsh Assembly’s presiding officer Elin Jones in Machynlleth on May 20 and will then go on tour, visiting the Urdd and National Eisteddfodau, Royal Welsh Show, National Library of Wales and other venues across the country.
On June 19 it will open in Parc, where it all began, and the final showing will be in the Pierhead, Cardiff in October.
But National Director Tegwen Morris faced a dilemma as the panels all A1 and the purpose built frames all six feet tall, had to be stored and transported in secure frames – so turned to Ifor Williams Trailers for help.
The company was happy to oblige, and duly agreed to loan a 10-feet long twin-axled trailer which has been decorated with Merched y Wawr’s logo and in the movement’s livery.
The movement has owned an Ifor Williams trailer for many years which is used to take materials to shows and other events, and, having been brought up on a farm in Carmarthenshire, Tegwen is very familiar with the world-famous trailers.
“I have been towing their trailers for as long as I can remember and am delighted that the company has agreed to help us in this way. It will make such a big difference to the staging of the exhibition and I cannot thank them enough,” she said. “The trailer looks very attractive.”
The local connection has also been particularly pleasing to members of the Parc branch of Merched y Wawr, seven of whose current members were among those who helped to establish the branch 50 years ago.
Sulwen Lloyd Davies, who is the branch president and Honorary President of the national organization, recalls the circumstances which led to the birth of the movement.
It came about following the launching of a WI branch in the village in 1966. Though most of the members were Welsh-speakers the national organization refused to provide material in the language, prompting them to come up with the idea of setting up their own parallel movement.
As word spread, a second branch soon opened in Ganllwyd, near Dolgellau, and that summer, with the National Eisteddfod being held in Bala, the campaign spread like wildfire. Today there are 234 branches and 42 clubs across the country.
Sulwen, 83, now lives in Bala and is a member of both the Bala and Parc branches.
Though her mobility is restricted she is looking forward to seeing the colourful panels when they visit Parc, and is pleased that the event has been facilitated by Ifor Williams Trailers.
“My three sons are now farming in the area and they all have Ifor Williams Trailers,” she said. “The company puts a lot back into the local community and I am very grateful to them for helping us.”
Another of Parc’s founder members is farmer’s wife Lona Puw, currently serving her third term as branch president. She, too, is appreciative of the company’s support and its willingness to assist local groups and charities.
“The 50th anniversary is a big thing for Parc and I think it’s great that a local firm is involved in helping to make the exhibition possible. The company’s name is already well-known throughout Wales and beyond and Merched y Wawr is happy to be associated with it,” she said.
Andrew Reece-Jones, the Design Engineering Manager at Ifor Williams Trailers, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Merched y Wawr in this very special year in their history.
“From small beginnings in Parc, it has grown into an important national organisation of real significance that plays an important role in communities across Wales. We wish them well for the next 50 years.”