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Welsh duo’s poetry helps those facing loneliness

17 June 2016

A grandmother and grandson from Swansea have won the first cross-generational poetry competition at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival.

Poetry Together invited young people to pair up with a mentor to create poetry as part of a campaign to combat loneliness run by The Co-op Group and the British Red Cross.

Over 500 people entered the competition with entries from England, Scotland, Wales and abroad.

Putting pen to paper

The winners Carole Ann Smith and Joshua Huw Smith, from Loughor, impressed judges Dame Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke and Martin Kratz at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Their poem entitled ‘Ellis Evans of Trawsfynydd’ was an elegy for those who died in the First World War, including Welsh poet Hedd Wyn, which the judges described as “simple, direct and affecting.”

Carole Ann Smith said:

“We couldn’t be happier that we’ve won the Poetry Together competition – Josh and I are over the moon.

“The poem was inspired by a book 'The Black Chair' written by Phil Carradice.

“It’s a poignant story and, with the centenary of Hedd Wyn's death next year, one that we hope will reach a wider audience.”

The winning entry


Ellis Evans of Trawsfynydd (1887-1917)


Known as Hedd Wyn, his bardic name,

a shepherd on his father’s farm,

he wrote poems, entered eisteddfodau,

won bardic chairs.


Called to war in 1917,

to join 15th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

In Belgium he finished eisteddfod entry:

Yr Arwr – The Hero,

signed it Fleur de Lis

and marched to Passchendaele.


The battlefield, a swamp, where Hedd Wyn fell,

hit by a German shell at Pilckem Ridge.

Dying, he lay in the mud with his comrades.


At the National Eisteddfod,

Chairing of the Bard took place.

Trumpets sounded. Winner announced:

Fleur de Lis.


Trumpets sounded again. Silence fell.

The Archdruid stepped forward –

winner killed in action six weeks ago.’

The bard’s chair stood empty,

draped in a black sheet.

The festival in tears,

And the poet in his grave.’ said the Archdruid.


Speaking about the competition winners, Red Cross chief executive Mike Adamson said:

“Congratulations to Carole and Joshua for their winning entry.

“Ellis Evans of Trawsfynydd will provide an inspiration to everyone at the Red Cross as we continue our work with The Co-op to highlight and tackle loneliness and social isolation in communities across the UK.” 

£2 million raised

The announcement of the competition winner comes in the same week that The Co-op reached the £2 million mark in their bid to raise £3.5 million for the Red Cross to tackle loneliness and social isolation in UK communities.  

The money raised will help the Red Cross to provide vital care and support for thousands of isolated and lonely people nationwide.

Research by The Co-op indicates millions of people find it difficult to admit they feel lonely, and the partnership will enable thousands of vulnerable people to be reached.

These findings build on the experiences of Red Cross staff and volunteers already delivering over 200 local independent living schemes giving practical and emotional support to vulnerable people across the UK.

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