Ifan ab Owen Edwards’ life story, the founding of Urdd Gobaith Cymru and the movement’s motto.
Teachers’ Notes The pictures should be shown in PowerPoint as the story is told. The ( ) shows when the slide should be changed. To attract pupils’ attention, we recommend the first slide is already on display as they enter.
The Main Text (Picture 1) Ifan ab Owen Edwards was born in Llanuwchllyn near Bala in 1895, the son of Owen M. Edwards, the highly respected teacher and the man who founded the Welsh children’s magazine, Cymru’r Plant, in 1892.
(Picture 2) As a young man, Ifan studied history at Aberystwyth University College. He served as a soldier in the First World War and later graduated in history from Lincoln College in Oxford. He worked as a teacher and lecturer from 1920 to 1948. In that year he left his job to concentrate on his work for Urdd Gobaith Cymru.
His father before him had tried to start a youth movement for Wales’ children and young people. Urdd y Delyn was formed in 1896 and Byddin Cymru in 1911, but both of these failed. Owen M Edwards died in 1920 but his life and his ideas inspired his son to develop a successful new movement.
(Picture 4) In 1922, in the magazine started by his father, Cymru’r Plant, Sir Ifan made an unusual request. “What shall we do Children of Wales, to keep the language alive? We shall form a new Order and try to get every child under eighteen to join,” he wrote. This was the start of Urdd Gobaith Cymru. Sir Ifan spent the rest of his life promoting the movement.
Because of this movement he opened a holiday village in Llanuwchllyn in 1928; more permanent locations in Llangrannog (1932) and Glan-llyn (1950) were opened later. The annual Urdd National Eisteddfod started in 1929.
Ifan ab Owen Edwards and his family settled in Aberystwyth and in 1939 he opened the first Welsh medium primary school there. There were only seven children on the register on the first day, but by the end of the war there were 81 children and four teachers at Ysgol Lluest. Even though it was a private school, it is recognised as the starting point for the founding of Welsh medium schools all over Wales.
A statue of Sir Ifan, and his father Owen M Edwards has been erected in Llanuwchllyn and can be seen by the main road from Bala as you pass the turning into the village.
The Urdd’s motto from the start was; Byddaf ffyddlon i Gymru, i gyd-ddyn ac i Grist. (I shall be faithful to Wales, to my fellow man and to Christ.) It was suggested recently that the ‘Christ’ should be deleted so as not to alienate children from other religions who wished to join. The suggestion has been refused so far.
The full motto is:
(Picture 7) I shall be faithful to Wales and worthy of her; I shall be faithful to my fellow man, whoever he may be; I shall be faithful to Christ and his love. (Byddaf yn ffyddlon i Gymru a theilwng ohoni; Byddaf ffyddlon i'm cyd-ddyn, pwy bynnag y bo; Byddaf ffyddlon i Grist a'i gariad ef.) The Urdd’s triangular badge was created in 1944 and reflects the motto. The badge has three colours, green, red and white. Every colour covers the same area so that each element of the motto is as important as the other. The green represents Wales, the red represents fellow man and the white, the top corner, represents Christ.
PRAYER: Thank you for a movement like Urdd Gobaith Cymru which was founded to protect the language and culture of Wales. Help us to live like the motto – to be faithful to Wales, to our fellow man and to Christ. Amen.