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Children and former slate quarrymen share a story to launch World Book Day 2020

Myrddin ap Dafydd and pupils from Ysgol Gwaun Gynfi launching his new book Stori Cymru Iaith a Gwaith for World Book Day 2020

CHILDREN from a north Wales school took part in a traditional story-sharing afternoon with the Archdruid of Wales Myrddin ap Dafydd and a group of local former quarrymen, as part of a special launch event for World Book Day 2020.

The group of Year 6 pupils from Ysgol Gwaun Gynfi in Deiniolen joined the writer and publisher on Monday, 2 December, for a fireside reading from his new book Stori Cymru – Iaith a Gwaith at the National Slate Museum in Llanberis.

The book is the first of the £1 World Book Day 2020 Welsh-language books to be announced and tells the history of Wales and the work of its people through story and song.

Ysgol Gwaun Gynfi sits at the heart of the historic slate quarrying and mining region, an industry which has roots in the area since Roman times, growing incredibly quickly during the Industrial Revolution, with nearby Dinorwig and Penrhyn quarries becoming the largest slate quarries in the world.

At its peak, slate accounted for half of north Wales’ income, but the industry began to decline in the early 20th century, and strikes and unrest followed. The impact of the industry on Wales’ culture and heritage has been recognised with a nomination for Unesco World Heritage status by the UK Government in 2018.

Myrddin ap Dafydd launching his new book Stori Cymru Iaith a Gwaith for World Book Day 2020

Stori Cymru – Iaith a Gwaith celebrates Wales’ past as the first industrialised nation in the world, while the stories also recognise the cost to its people, often of hard labour, suffering and accidents.

Former quarrymen from the Dinorwig site, many now in their late eighties and nineties, joined the children and Myrddin ap Dafydd at the event, to share their stories and experiences of working at the centre of Gwynedd’s industrial past.

Former quarry worker Gwynfor Williams, 90, said: “I started working in the quarry in 1945 when I was just 16 years old. It was tough work, but I have a lot of fond memories of my time there. I’ve enjoyed sharing my stories with the children today and through doing so it means the tales of working in the quarries will live on with the next generation.”

Speaking about the event, Myrddin ap Dafydd, who was elected Archdruid of Wales in 2018, said: “Landscape, language, heritage and history are all intertwined in Wales and this book is a celebration of that. The dramatic landscape here and the story it tells of our past is a daily reminder of our unique, sometimes difficult, history. ‘Mewn undeb mae nerth’ (In unity is strength) is one of the most passionate Welsh sayings because of what we have endured together as a nation.

“I’m often asked by people of my generation why we weren’t taught these stories at school, so it’s great to see children here at the National Slate Museum today engaging in the stories of their past and understanding how it has made their area what it is today.”

World Book Day is a worldwide celebration marked in over 100 countries across the globe to promote the benefits of reading for people of all ages. Research reveals that reading can have a substantial impact on children’s educational success and it has never been more important to encourage children and young people to read.

The second Welsh-language £1 book written and published in Wales and through the medium of Welsh for World Book Day 2020 is Darllen gyda Cyw by Anni Llŷn, which follows the tales of popular S4C favourites Cyw and her friends.

Angharad Sinclair, Reading Promotions Project Manager at the Books Council of Wales, said: “Story sharing is part of our unique tradition in Wales and we were delighted to be able to see this in action with the children at the National Slate Museum and launch the first of the Welsh-language £1 books for World Book Day 2020.”