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Diwrnod Santes Dwynwen: The story behind the Welsh Saint of lovers

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Today (25 January) is Diwrnod Santes Dwynwen – the day of the Welsh Saint of lovers. But what’s the story behind Santes Dwynwen? Dr Rhiannon Ifans explains more.

Dr Rhiannon Ifans

When Cupid’s sharp arrows pierce the heart, to whom should we turn for advice and comfort? To the patron saint of lovers of course – Saint Dwynwen, whose church is on Llanddwyn, a tidal island off the west coast of Anglesey.

Dwynwen is the patron saint of Welsh lovers and her festival day is celebrated on 25 January. Over the centuries many have requested her help, including Dafydd ap Gwilym when he found it difficult to attract the married Morfudd as his sweetheart.

Dwynwen was brought up in Brecknockshire and was the daughter of an early medieval king, Brychan Brycheiniog; some say that he had at least a dozen children, others say as many as 36, and that all his daughters were beautiful. Dwynwen was particularly pretty and had a remarkably attractive personality – little wonder that Maelon Dafodrull fell in love with her. But her father Brychan refused to allow her to marry Maelon. Dwynwen was in a difficult situation: should she follow her heart, marry Maelon, and in so doing disobey and rebel against her father? Or should she accept his guidance?

She did not disobey her father. Dwynwen rejected Maelon, and as a consequence, some versions of the story say that Maelon raped her. Certainly, Maelon returned to his home in the north. Dwynwen was so sad that she asked God to make her forget Maelon and to freeze their love, and so it happened that Maelon was transformed into a block of ice.

Dwynwen prayed once more to God, and he granted her three wishes, that Maelon might be his usual self again; that she be inaugurated as the patron saint of lovers; and that she be allowed to live a single life (and to become a nun).

Because she had suffered in this way, Dwynwen was the ideal person to offer advice to lovers throughout the ages concerning their romantic problems. And so it was that lovers with a downcast heart would travel to Llanddwyn to be restored.

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Mediaeval Welsh bards have made reference in their poetry to those who crossed from the mainland to Anglesey in flimsy boats in mid-winter, the wind whipping up the waves, to consult with Dwynwen. On Llanddwyn island there is a small church dedicated to her, as well as a holy well, and the pilgrims of old would light a candle, offer a prayer and leave a gift in recognition of the help they had received from the saint. Little wonder that the prebendaries of Llanddwyn during the Middle Ages were so very rich!

Eglwys Santes Dwynwen, Llanddwyn Island (Image: Wikimedia / TuK Bassler)

Dr Rhiannon Ifans was a Dyson Fellow in the Faculty of Humanities and Performing Arts at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David until 2019, specialising in medieval literature and folk studies. She is now a full-time author. She has twice won the Tir na n-Og prize, and in 2019 won the Prose Medal at the Conwy County Eisteddfod for her novel Ingrid, a novel set in the German city of Stuttgart

(Lead image: Jess Bailey Designs / Pexels.com)

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Carmarthen

Carmarthen set-design student replicates 1980s British Rail cup for Michael Sheen film

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A student and a lecturer from The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) BA Set Design & Production course were involved in Sky Cinema’s recent production ‘Last Train To Christmas’.

The film ‘Last Train To Christmas,’ which was recently produced in Bay Studios, Swansea required as part of their production design a difficult to source and very specific prop, a 1980’s British Rail ‘MaxPax’ coffee cup.

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York Museum hold an original but could not release it in time for filming, therefore,  Art Director Gemma Clancy reached out to UWTSD’s Creative Industries degree programme Set & Production in Carmarthen to see if one could be modelled and 3D printed.  

Lecturer in Props and Scenic Construction, Dave Atkinson offered to take up the invaluable offer and generated a 3D CAD model of the desired cup but was limited by doing so just from photos. This was then 3D printed in-house and fully finished ready to be used as an action prop by Michael Sheen.  

On delivery of the prop cup, a collaborative industry link was established, and Dave continued to work on the set as a prop and scenery maker.  

Dave said, “There are so many films and TV series now being made in West Wales, I am really enjoying connecting the industry with the provisions we have at UWTSD. We have revalidated the provisions in Carmarthen and are launching them in September this year, this will open up more exciting opportunities to forge industry connections.”

Also during production, a paid student placement was offered, for a Second Year Set Design & Production student. Kayla Pratt was lucky enough to be invited to work within the art department across all skill areas from dressing, props, standby and construction throughout her summer break. 

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She adds, “When choosing a university, I wanted to study at a place that could help me get work experience. Despite all odds from the global pandemic, the university course BA Set Design and Production, helped me make my steps into the industry.

“With the support from my university tutors, they helped prepare me for my first day within the art department through to the end of Julian Kemp’s production, Last Train to Christmas.

“Every day within the feature film’s art department was a great day and they supported my learning in a range of on and off set roles throughout the 6 weeks in Swansea’s Bay studios.

“The experience, not only helped me develop as an artist but has also reassured me that this is the industry, I want to be in. Thanks all to the BA Set Design and Production tutors, I am more confident to take my next step as an industry artist.”

The University says that this collaboration is just one of many examples between themselves and a production company , and is a prime example of the importance for teaching, developing and promoting the digital capabilities within the creative industries on Carmarthen Campus.

They say that continual investment will only strengthen and further develop connections, and such support and growth will enable students and graduates from UWTSD to exceed the expectations of the industry. 

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Art Director Gemma Clancy said, “The whole production team would like to extend a huge thank you to UWTSD Carmarthen for their help in the production of The Last Train To Christmas. Kayla Pratt and Dave Atkinson joined the Art Department team and bought some fantastic skills with them. We were so happy to have them on board and incredibly appreciative of their local knowledge and 3D printing capabilities!

“Kayla was one of the most positive members of our team and always tackled the day’s tasks with enthusiasm and determination. Next time we’re shooting in Wales we’ll be calling on UWTSD Carmarthen again!”

(Lead image: Sky)

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Health

Professor Medwin Hughes appointed Chair of Citizen Voice Body

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The Vice-Chancellor of University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), Professor Medwin Hughes has been appointed Chair of a new body established by Welsh Government to represent the interests of the public in respect to health and social care.

The Citizen Voice Board for Health and Social Care is independent of Government, the NHS and local authorities but will work with them to support the continued improvement of person-centred services.

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It will be responsible for establishing a national body and infrastructure to engage in health and social care reform in Wales.

In a written statement issued by Welsh Government, Eluned Morgan, MS, Minister for Health and Social Services said: “Following my previous statement, published on 10 January 2022, I am pleased to announce, after a successful recruitment campaign, the appointment of Professor Medwin Hughes DL, as Chair of the Citizen Voice Body for Health and Social Care, Wales.

“This is an extremely important leadership role for the body responsible for representing the interests of the public in respect of health and social services from 1 April 2023.”

“I look forward to working with Professor Hughes. I am confident that his experience will enable him to establish the Citizen Voice Body for Health and Social Care, Wales as a leading organisation in representing the voices and opinions of the people in respect of health and social care services and support the continuous improvement of person-centred services”.

The next year will be spent building the required relationships, systems and foundations and the Minister will announce appointment of the remaining non-executive members in the next few weeks. Professor Hughes’ tenure will run for four years until 31 March 2026.

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Professor Hughes is the longest serving Vice-Chancellor in Wales and has played a significant role in the reconfiguration of Higher Education over the past 20 years. He is the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales and UWTSD Group, a dual sector group of higher and further education institutions.

On his appointment, Professor Medwin Hughes has said: “I very much value the opportunity to serve in this role and the chance to establish a new national body that focuses on what matters most to people and ensures that the views of individuals and communities are at the very centre of health and social services. I look forward to working with the many partners and people involved in engaging with citizens and delivering their care as we develop the new body.”

Lead image: Professor Medwin Hughes (Image: UWTSD)

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Business

Student sets up ‘Clothes Swishing’ event in Carmarthen

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A student from The University of Wales Trinity Saint David Carmarthen Business School is setting up a Clothes Swishing event in Carmarthen as a way to save the environment and for people to save money.

As a student, Christine Joy has become aware of environmental issues, circular economy, and the value of the local community whilst studying her Business and Management course at UWTSD.

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Student Christine Joy has set up a clothes swishing event in Carmarthen (Image: UWTSD)

During her first year, she became aware of fast fashion after undertaking the “Global Business Challenge” module. Whilst writing an essay, the research she uncovered shocked her – lakes were drained, a factory collapsed causing multiple deaths, ethical issues surrounding fair wage and working conditions and water pollution to name a few.

After this discovery, Christine became conscious of what she bought, even down to the material. However, it wasn’t until her 2nd year whilst studying “Technological Change and Innovation” when the lecturer asked the class what they all could be doing to help our environment, she reflected back to fast fashion and investigated ways that everyone can do their bit, this is when she came across clothes swishing.

Clothes swishing is a way to slow down fashion and help our environment. By keeping items of clothing, shoes, and accessories in life for longer, we can reduce the need to buy new, helping our environment and saving money.

The vision is simple. At a clothes swish event people will bring good quality, clean clothing, shoes and accessories which they no longer need and in return are provided with a unique validation number containing points per item (some such as brand new with tags or designer brands may be provided with extra points). All items collected are then inspected, sorted, and placed into the swishing event. During the day of the event people then redeem their points for replacement items of clothing, shoes, and accessories. Any items left over will be offered to sustainable, circular economy sectors such as fashion and design students or charity shops etc.

According to Christine, “The average person does not use 1/3 of their wardrobe with many items still having tags. Fast fashion is one of the biggest contributors to global emissions, and pollution and generates over 95 tons of waste a year, not to mention ethical exploitation.”

Before Christine came to UWTSD to study, she worked for the biggest company in Wales, where she had worked her way up the ladder to lead manager, running a small department. She always held a passion to start her own business and would always see opportunities, but through lack of knowledge, she never put them into motion. After moving back to her roots in west Wales, she decided to come and study at UWTSD as she wanted to study somewhere with a friendly and family feel environment.

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Christine has felt that the course has developed her both academically and personally and she feels that she has found herself again, however, says she is pushing herself to achieve more.

She adds, “The course really provokes thought regards to global business considerations, our planet and community. The course stimulates creativity as real-life scenarios are drawn upon with several opportunities for advancement made available to students.”

Creating an event like this on campus would according to Christine,“prevent clothing waste from entering landfills and keep it within a circular environment, saving students, family, and the community money. I would like UWTSD Carmarthen Business school to be recognized for sustainability and value creation, in addition, to strengthen relations within the local Community and UWTSD.”

Lecturer Jessica Shore is very proud of Christine’s vision. She said, “We are delighted to support Chrissie and her event, which will benefit both her fellow students, the wider community and the environment. The undergraduate business programmes here in Carmarthen aim to challenge traditional business behaviour and Chrissie’s desire to make a difference is a wonderful example of this. Personally, I shall be having a good sort out and encouraging the rest of the staff and students to do the same in order to make the event a success!”

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