First Minister's Special Award 2018 winner
Gerald Williams MBE, 83, of Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd has dedicated his life to preserving the memory of his uncle Hedd Wyn as custodian to Yr Ysgwrn, Hedd Wyn’s home.
He has maintained his promise to ‘always keep the door open’ since 1954, welcoming visitors from all over the world to Yr Ysgwrn, and doing so free of charge. Gerald’s tireless work has helped to keep the memory of Hedd Wyn alive and preserve the First World War poet’s legacy for future generations. The open door policy of his family’s home helps ensures a vital piece of Welsh history and heritage is not lost. He is happy to speak to anyone about ‘Yr Ysgwrn’ and is an expert in his own right on Hedd Wyn’s life. Yr Ysgwrn houses exhibitions about the life and poetic legacy of Hedd Wyn, together with themes of Welsh language and culture, the bardic tradition, social and rural history, and the First World War.
Although Gerald no longer works on the farm, he has ensured the buildings are preserved for future generations by transferring them to the Snowdonia National Park in 2012. He also continues to volunteer alongside the Park’s staff to support their work. Ellis Humphrey Evans who went by the Welsh bardic name of Hedd Wyn died at the Battle of Passchendaele 6 weeks before the National Eisteddfod in 1917, at which he was awarded the Black Chair for his poem Yr Arwr (The Hero). In 2017, Mr Williams played a key role in the centenary commemoration activities for the Battle of Passchendaele.