The infamous Welsh lady’s organisation, Merched y Wawr, has been providing women in Wales with a fantastic opportunity to socialise, share skills and experiences from the early days, and this year marks the organisation’s 50th birthday. In every corner of Wales, thousands of women regularly attend the 280 Merched y Wawr clubs that exist today, the majority of members are Mothers and grandmothers, and the majority are also amazing at making the perfect cup of tea, cake and homemade jam – I’m serious, I’ve been a guest speaker at several clubs over the years and it’s been a privilege meeting the members and sampling they’re homemade treats!
The lady who’s in charge of all the enthusiastic and hardworking members is the National Director, Tegwen Morris, a Mum of two from Aberystwyth. Mam Cymru was fortunate to have an interview with this busy lady to learn more about her hopes for the future of Merched y Wawr and to learn how she juggles her job and her life as a Mum.
First of all, what part of Wales were you brought up?
I was raised at Alltgoch Farm near Ffaldybrenin, Carmarthenshire, but I’ve been living in Aberystwyth since the late 90’s. I’m married to Richard and have two sons; Ioan who’s 14 and Aled who’s 12, both attend Ysgol Penweddig in Aberystwyth.
Where did you work before becoming the Director of Merched y Wawr?
I worked with Menter Iaith Maldwyn, the Welsh language initiative and before that I worked with Menter Bro Ddyfi and was based at the high school in Machynlleth, where you were a pupil Heulwen! I also worked at Dolaucothi Gold Mines during the school holidays.
What inspired you to take this role within Merched y Wawr?
My friend had seen the job advert and she sent it on to me. I had many friends in Aberystwyth and at the time, I was single and child free and ready for a new challenge!
How many members do you have in Merched y Wawr and who are they?
We have over 6,000 members and they are enthusiastic ladies who value Welsh society, who want to contribute to their local community by being part of the local Merched y Wawr club. We welcome women of all ages and backgrounds, and we offer a very warm welcome to those ladies who are learning Welsh. If there’s no local Merched y Wawr club, ladies can join as an individual or set up their own Merched y Wawr group.
For those who have been living in a cave/ have never heard of Merched y Wawr, explain what it is..
Merched y Wawr is an organisation for women in Wales, a place to socialise and enjoy each other’s company through the medium of Welsh, it offers unique opportunities and we organise over 3,000 events every year.
What do you love and hate about the job?
I love the friendships, the socialising and the way we work together in a happy environment to organise and stage events in all corners of the country. The only thing I dislike about the job is the fact that I can’t complete everything on my ‘to do’ list, I often state that there just aren’t enough hours in the day!
How have you been celebrating the 50th birthday this year?
Celebrating our golden birthday has been amazing, it’s hard to believe that Merched y Wawr was set up in 1967 in y Parc near Bala, North Wales. We’ve organised dozens of events and projects from a heritage project to presenting the crown at the National Eisteddfod, as well as regional celebrations, Party in the Parc to name only a few and we’ve had so much publicity on the TV and the radio. There’s much more to come too, as we prepare to celebrate the 200th publication of Y Wawr, our Merched y Wawr magazine, in 2018.
What are your hopes for the future of Merched y Wawr?
I hope to see new members joining, and hope to see women in all corners of our country realising the importance of being a member of this Welsh society, and experiencing the benefits of a voluntary organisation, and learning how we can all help others.
Is it a challenge to attract new members and young mothers?
I guess that all societies face this challenge, as it’s difficult for women to make time to go out and socialise, but women know that Merched y Wawr has a powerful voice, and they know that we are friendly and welcoming and we offer new and exciting opportunities, whilst also being the perfect way to socialise. There’s a warm welcome awaiting you. Join us and be part of the heart of your community. ❤
How do you juggle the demands of this national role with your life as a Mum and wife?
Richard is a fantastic husband and I have parents and friends and neighbours who are always at hand to help. Forward planning is the key – I try to organise a week at a time to ensure that we can work out an organised family routine which encompasses where, when, who and how! I officially work 22 hours a week for Merched y Wawr, which allows me to take the boys to school most days and I try to collect them in the afternoon, and we try to ensure that we have dinner together most nights.
Give us a snapshot of your weekly routine
This year has been bonkers, working late and away at least one or two nights a week, working every other Saturday at various events across the country and juggling that with the twice weekly after school food shop and trying to plan what we’re having for dinner.
When you do have some holiday time/ break, what do you enjoy doing as a family?
We all love Pembrokshire, we usually rent a cottage and visit various attractions depending on the weather of course! This year, after a busy week at the Eisteddfod we went to Benidorm for the week and enjoyed the lovely warm sunshine on the beach!
What would be Tegwen’s ideal day?
On a Friday morning, a gang of Mums meet for coffee and a catch up in the town, and it’s a really good laugh. Occasionally we take a walk around the local charity shops, we like supporting local charities, and then we head off to work by 10 o clock. Now that our children are older, we have less time and opportunities to socialise as Mums, so this weekly catch up is important. I would then work until 3:20, have afternoon tea and then take the boys to rugby training. After this, we would visit our neighbours before sitting down for dinner around 7:30 – 8, sometimes a Chinese. The day would end with a visit from friends and we’d enjoy some wine. I’d have an early, as I have to get up to work!
Mam Cymru would like to thank Tegwen for taking time out of her busy routine and the birthday celebrations to chat to Mam Cymru – a very happy birthday and long may you continue Merched y Wawr Cymru.
By Heulwen Davies, Mam Cymru.