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Plans for next Twm Sbaen Festival underway as organisers promise “bigger and better event”

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Sunday, Apr 21st, 2019.

The success of a recent festival in Wrexham has spurred organisers to start planning for next year’s event, stating it will be “bigger and better than this year’s”.

Twm Sbaen Festival was held earlier this month to commemorate the life and politics of Rhosllannerchrugog collier Tom Jones – or Twm Sbaen as he was nicknamed.

It was organised by a group of local trade unionists with the support of Unite the Union.

Vic Grout, speaking on behalf of the organisers, said: “We put together the festival in a matter of a few months because we wanted to celebrate the life of Twm Sbaen, who went out to fight Franco’s fascists in the Spanish Civil War.

“At a time when fascism is still very much alive, we wanted to remember his bravery along with that of his fellow International Brigade volunteers.

“About 300 Welsh people volunteered along with 35,000 others from around the world to fight in defence of the democratic republic against a military coup by General Franco in 1936.

“The event started with a rally in Queen Square addressed by a local MP and trade union activists. We then marched behind the excellent Cambria Band through the town and into Ty Pawb, where we were greeted by Wrexham’s Community Choir.

“The event brought many visitors to the town for the first time and they were delighted to be a part of this new event. I was also delighted that members of Twm’s family were able to attend and we hope to strengthen those links before the next festival.

“During the afternoon there were a series of talks and discussions about various aspects of the Spanish Civil War and lessons for today. We were delighted to welcome speakers about their experiences in Chile, Brazil and Catalonia as well as films.

“The day was rounded off with some excellent poetry by local poet David Subacchi, who wrote five poems about Twm Sbaen especially for the event, and then an evening of music featuring Joe Solo, Nick Ellis and some of the best local bands. Again, we were delighted that Andy Hickie and his new band Paint your Guru had written a song specially about Twm Sbaen.”

Mr Grout paid tribute to the organising committee, who put the event together in just 12 weeks, adding: “We didn’t have long and it was a frantic effort at times but we got there in the end. We now have some time to plan and build for the next festival – we’re very grateful for the support we’ve had from Unite the Union and will be hoping for other groups and organisations to support us for next year.

“We’ve already had pledges of support from some union branches, which is great, and we will be holding a specific event in Rhosllannerchrugog in the coming months to raise awareness among a new generation in his home village.”

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