Wednesday 11 September 2013

Gwobrau Dewi Sant - St David Awards

Few things are guaranteed to get some of us more worked up than the ludicrous British honours system with its arcane and ridiculous titles and hierarchy of gongs and baubles. Every year hundreds of these things are handed out to political cronies, financiers, civil servants, sports personalities, soap actors and the rest. Buried in this deluge of Establishment froth are the names of people who really do deserve recognition, but as a rule the primary school teachers, village postmistresses and others who have spent a lifetime of service to the community will pick up only the most junior honours.

Then there are those who deserve recognition, but will never get it because they have been a thorn in the side of the powers-that-be or are just not welcome in the club. Quite a few of those would in any case join the growing list of refuseniks who have told Downing Street and the palace flunkies to get lost.

It is pleasing to know, for example, that the actor Alastair Sim turned down a knighthood, and that more recently Jim Broadbent, one of the best of the current crop of British character actors, turned down an OBE.

In Wales the best-loved poet of recent times, Dic Jones, was never honoured, and the response of Gerallt Lloyd Owen, for Cneifiwr's money the greatest living poet, to any letter from the Cabinet Office is easy to imagine.

For those who do accept and find themselves rubbing shoulders with the likes of "Sir" Fred Goodwin, Lord Jeffrey Archer and swarms of party hacks and donors, career civil servants and other Establishment insiders who pick up a gong for just being there, these are dubious honours indeed.

For these reasons we should all welcome the launch yesterday by First Minister Carwyn Jones of the St David Awards, or Gwobrau Dewi Sant. Nominations for the different categories, which include bravery, citizenship, culture and sport, are open to the public, and the new awards could develop into a genuine and much more democratic honours system than the discredited British version.

Rather pointedly, the Welsh Government's official website for the awards notes right at the beginning of its explanation that,

The awards will be given to people who are not simply doing their jobs, but rather those who do make a real difference to the quality of life in Wales.

For those settling down to watch today's webcast of the September meeting of Carmarthenshire County Council where the top brass regularly nominate each other for MBEs, OBEs and CBEs, this is welcome news indeed.


glynbeddau said...

Back in 2007 after the death of Ray Gravel. I had a letter published in the Wasting Mule calling for such an award and for Grav to be given the first one posthumously .

It is believed that the greatest Lions Coach Carwyn James turned down a OBE or MBE .

Today of course he would have been offered a Knighthood ( He would have still refused though.

Anonymous said...

Gwobrau'r sefydliad Prydeining -

"Wylit, wylit Llewelyn.

Wylit waed pe gwelit hyn"

Richard Powell said...

It all looks like a glorified school speech day, though without any prizes for the pure sciences or maths. I'd be amazed if any awards went to people who were a thorn in the side of the establishment - all prizes since the dawn of civilisation have essentially rewarded conformity, except perhaps those in maths and the pure sciences.

Doubtless most of the winners will be worthy, to a greater or lesser degree. But some will not. It will be hard to avoid cronyism, even if the participants want to. Those on the inside will know how to draft appealing nominations and which strings to pull. The Towy Community Church is about a hundred trillion times more likely than Caebrwyn to be the recipient of a St David.

Anonymous said...

Well if people like angharad mair, stifyn parri and Sian Lloyd were present at the launch of these awards, I weep to think who recpipents will be.. talk about the usual hollow rent a mob, troiedig