The annual St. David’s Day Gathering of the Welsh Society of Western New England was held on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at the Nutmeg restaurant in East Windsor, CT.
WSWNE president Tom Bernard welcomed the largest attendance ever. He then asked for a moment of recognition in memory of several members who died in the past year (including Arthur Norwood, Sarah Dreher, Sallie Hughes Pitt, Kathleen Steece) and for Bronwyn Gosselin, whose son, Jim Gosselin, attending for the first time along with other family members, spoke of how much his mother would have enjoyed being part of this gathering. A St. David’s Day proclamation from Susan Kitchens, British Consul General to New England, and greetings from Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, were acknowledged. An opening prayer was read by founding chaplain, the Rev. Arvel M Steece.
Following a delicious luncheon, WSWNE president Tom Bernard chaired the Annual General Meeting at which the proposed slate was unanimously elected to serve on the 2013-14 Board of Directors.
Susan Davies Sit (CT)- President
Sherry Williams (CT) – Vice-President
Susan Jenkins Meers (CT) – Secretary/Clerk
Bob Bolgard (CT) – Treasurer
Nancy Bolgard (CT)
Beth Roberts Brown (MA)
Ed Brown (MA)
Glyn Dowden (CT)
Magdalen Dowden (CT)
Shirley Gilmartin (CT)
Tom Bernard presented a fascinating program on the topic of “Welsh Family Names: Origins, Meanings, and Significance”. After explaining the four major categories of last name derivations (Place, Occupational, Descriptive and Patronymic), he went on to give a wealth of examples and to illustrate the many influences on the form of the name. For example, the last name “Welsh” would likely be spelled “Welch” where French is spoken, become “Walsh” in Ireland, and “Wallace” in Scotland.
After pointing out that classic Welsh surnames (like Williams, Jones, and Davis/Davies) are among the most common in the U.S. population, he explained that these are actually English names. The English names were adopted at a time when people calling themselves by real Welsh names (like Lloyd, Maddox, and Rhys) were at a disadvantage; they were considered a threat by the English who occupied and dominated Wales in the early middle ages and wanted no uprisings by the likes of an Owain Glyndwr. Even the name “Wales” itself is English (meaning foreign – not English) vs. the original name of “Cymru”.
Upon conclusion of his talk, outgoing president Tom Bernard turned the meeting over to the newly elected president, Susan Davies Sit.
Susan and others praised Tom for his ten years of outstanding service as WSWNE president. Treasurer Bob Bolgard presented Tom with a card of thanks signed by all present and a presentation desk set with a plaque that reads, “To Thomas Bernard with great appreciation for ten years service as president of the Welsh Society of Western New England. Diolch o galon.”
After several announcements of upcoming events, Tina Davies was given an enthusiastic round of applause for organizing another splendid St. David’s Day Gathering (her eleventh or twelfth?!); she thanked everyone who helped with the
The gathering ended with the singing of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (the Welsh National Anthem) accompanied by Tina Davies on piano.
The pots of daffodils that had graced the tables were given to ladies attending a WSWNE event for the first time.