Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative 2021 Awards
Friday 2 July 2021 saw the first ever virtual awards ceremony in the history of the Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative (WHSI). It was uncertain how many entries would be received in such a climate but the WHSI was delighted to have received over 30 entries from over 3,300 young people who participated in this year’s competition and set out to research on the topic of “My Heritage”.
In her welcome address, Ms Angharad Williams, WHSI Chairperson and awards ceremony host, said that this last year has been a year like no other with schools working remotely with their learners for much of the time, battling with the inevitable difficulties this involved. She thanked committee members and WHSI officials for their hard work to organise and arrange this 2021 annual competition and also gave a big thank you to all judges and to the generous sponsors for their continued support.
Before the prize winners were revealed, Ms Williams was delighted to present a personal video message from award winning actor Michael Sheen. In his message to the winners he said:
“It’s a pleasure for me to support the work of the Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative and be part of this year’s awards ceremony to celebrate the achievements of the young people of Wales.
The annual competition held by the WHSI for almost thirty years provides a wonderful mechanism for young people of all ages and abilities across Wales to take a greater interest in their heritage / cynefin, and the contribution made to it by their own communities.
I would like to congratulate all who have taken part and those who have worked so hard to make it possible.”
After Michael Sheen’s video message, other messages followed. These came from actors who provided an entertaining quiz: They played historical characters, such as a famous pirate, a soldier who fought in the First World War but all he wanted to do was write poetry, an entrepreneur who lived in Wales during the Industrial Revolution and owned many coal mines, and a lady from East Anglia who fought against the Romans. How many of these historical figures did they recognise, asked Ms Williams before showing the solution on the screen.
Ms Williams commented again on the superb effort teachers and pupils made to engage with the competition resulting yet again in a high standard of entry. All deserve congratulations, and can indeed feel proud of their achievements.
Projects submitted covered a wide range of subjects – multi-culturalism, the Welsh language, individual towns/cities in Wales, World Wars, Sport, Industry, famous Welsh people, local buildings and churches, women in Wales.
Then the winners of each category were announced.
In each educational sector there was an overall winner receiving a shield presented by the Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum of Wales) and £1000 donated by the Hodge/Moondance Foundations.
In the Foundation phase (3-7 year olds) this was won by Penboyr School, Carmarthenshire for their study of Drefach Felindre, concentrating on business past and present.
The winner of the Special Education and Alternative Provision (3-19 year olds) shield was Ysgol Heol Goffa, Carmarthenshire whose subject was ‘Traditional Foods of Wales’ – where pupils researched, made and tasted different foods with great enthusiasm – Masterchef in the making!
Ysgol Bryn Y Mȏr, Swansea and Ysgol Casmael, Pembrokeshire were joint winners of the Primary/Junior phase (7-11 year olds) with their projects – ‘Things will Get Better’- comparing the difficult times of WW2 and the pandemic, and ‘Casmael Remembers’- the contribution of the village to WW1 and the impact of the war on the locality.
The Secondary Schools (11-19 year olds) sector shield was won by Ysgol Bro Pedr, Ceredigion for their project – ‘In and Out of Wales’ – an ambitious and enriching project dealing with migration and emigration.
In addition the Initiative celebrated the winner of the prestigious EUSTORY competition. This year the competition has taken on a new format – students in Years 12 and 13 were invited to submit an individual project linked to Welsh Heritage and based on research, analysis and evaluation. The winners receive a monetary prize and an opportunity to apply to participate in the annual EUSTORY Summit, which this year will be in virtual format.
The four WHSI EUSTORY 2021 prizewinners were presented by one of the judges, Dr Elin Jones.
The WHSI winner 2021 is Molly Cook of Bryntirion Comprehensive School, Bridgend whose research into a disused historic building with her peer group (“The Salvation of St John’s: Saving the Soul of Bridgend”) led to her publication of an extremely impressive analysis and evaluation in ‘The Historian’. Molly also won this year’s Historical Association Young Historian Local History Award for this work.
The runners up are:
Rosie Honey, Ysgol Gyfun Dyffryn Tâf: To what extent should we commemorate the Rebecca Riots?
Anest Williams, Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr: How have recent political events affected the support for the YesCymru campaign?
Klaudia Kalinowska, Ysgol Bro Pedr: The story of Polish Migration into Wales
All four winners have qualified to apply for this year’s EUSTORY youth encounters. Ms Katja Fausser, Managing Director of EUSTORY, congratulated the winners on behalf of Körber-Stiftung and EUSTORY and invited them to apply for these encounters and share and discuss issues and ideas with other young people from Europe.
At the end of the virtual ceremony Ms Williams said that hopefully next year the WHSI will be able to welcome everybody to their ceremony in Cardiff and to celebrate 30 years since the first competition was held in 1992.