Grand Bard’s Speech at 2021 Gorsedh

How wonderful finally to be here celebrating our Bardic ceremony  in  Bude Stratton after 18 months of uncertainty. We have worked very hard in quite a short time to be here today. Last year we managed to hold a very reduced ceremony, but this year we are back with a full Bardic ceremony.  Once again we are live-streaming today so that all those Bards unable to be here can join us online. Welcome to you all, especially those in the Diaspora.

We had a lovely adult awards evening last night. So many deserving winners and wonderful achievements, among them  The Blanchminster Trust. This year they celebrate the 600 years which have passed since ‘Popys Place’ was granted in trust in 1421.  Land and buildings on that site (Lansdown Road, Bude) are still held by the Blanchminster Trust today, with the profits from rents raised from residents and businesses used to make grants to people and organisations in Stratton, Bude and Poughill.  It is Cornwall’s oldest grant-giving charity – and likely one of the oldest in Britain

Bude Stratton is a long way from our 2019 venue of St Just in Penwith. We are very close to the Devon border but proudly Cornish.  The Castle where we are today was the home of Goldsworthy Gurney the inventor, who invented many things including the Bude Light.  Here we are beside the only canal in Cornwall built to transport sand to farms inland and as we look towards the sea we are reminded that the first Surf Lifesaving Association in Britain was started here in 1953.

Stratton has an interesting history. The only saltworks in Cornwall mentioned in Domesday were in the ‘manor’ of Stratton, ten of them. Even earlier, Stratton is mentioned in the will of Alfred, King of the West Saxons, dated to around 880AD (‘Straetneat in Triconscire’ – Stratton in Triggshire).  This is important for it was the ONLY land in Cornwall mentioned in Alfred’s will. Stratton later gave its name to a ‘hundred’ or division of land (like Penwith, Kerrier, Pydar etc.).  It was granted a fair charter in 1207, and hosted the area’s market.  It was also home to the Courthouse, prison and later Police Station.  It also had several banks and shops, before the growth of Bude.

We have had to change our ways of working because of the restrictions over the last 18 months. It has been challenging, but it has enhanced our links with the diaspora. Bards across the world were able to join our Zoom AGM this year. Our online Cornish classes are accessible to learners from the diaspora as well as those living away from Cornwall. This has meant many more people – and young people – learning Cornish. Cornish associations have held online talks, reaching a wider audience. Meetings have been held online bringing together different Cornish organisations around the world. All of these things are a positive result of lockdown.

This summer has been challenging, trying to avoid the Covid-19 virus, with so many more visitors than usual meaning many local people have been unable to find or afford a home. With so many people coming to Cornwall to live, we need to promote Cornish culture more than ever. We are not just a beautiful place to live and holiday, we are a proud Cornish nation. Visitors see the views, the beaches, the sea. That is not the real Cornwall. The real Cornwall is made up of our history, our heritage, our culture.  We have national minority status; our language is recognised as one of the minority languages of the UK. Indeed it is older than English. It needs proper funding. Let us all continue our work and stand up  for Cornwall, our culture, our heritage and our language. Kernow Bys Vykken!