A New Bard - August 1970

During the Summer, Mary had a wonderful honour bestowed on her by her country, she was made a Bard of the Gorsedd. The ceremony took place at Ammanford Carmarthenshire, which was the host town for that year's Royal National Eisteddfod. The ceremony was held around the Gorsedd Circle, similar to the Druid Circle of old.

She stood on a rain swept mountainside to receive the honour which is reserved for Welsh men and Women who make an outstanding contribution to Welsh Cultural Life. She stepped into the centre of the Gorsedd Circle (Stonehenge type) made up of 13 stones, one for each Welsh County, she touched the huge sword of peace, and standing in front of the 'Logan Stone' was welcomed to the circle by the then Arch Druid Reverend Gwilym Tilsley.

She had taken the bardic name of 'Mari Hopcyn' (a name she used in school when taking part in Welsh plays etc.) She was initiated into the order as a "Welsh Girl who has won European fame as an interpreter of contemporary folk music".

Here is an extract from the 'Friendly Society Newsletter' written by Mrs Elizabeth Hopkin which gives an account of the ceremony.

"Only a Royal visit," said the papers, "could have exceeded the warm welcome accorded Mary." She flew from Blackpool after the last show on Wednesday night and arrived at Swansea airport at 12.30am, where after she had been interviewed for 'Good Morning Wales', the 8am radio programme, she gave press interviews and arrived home at 2.30am.

Hundreds passed the Gorsedd circle and its approaches and also upstairs windows long before the colourful procession for the weeks second Gorsedd Ceremony. Some children had taken up places near the circle soon after 8.00am. Mary was the first of a long list of 28 names to be called forward by Archdruid Tilsley who conferred on her the self-chosen bardic name of Mari Hopcyn.

The rain came down just after the last had been initiated, among them being the well known Wynford Vaughn Thomas, commentator and broadcaster, also Alun Williams of the BBC in Wales. Mary hopes to attend Gorsedd ceremonies in the future and would like to sing with the harp at the circle.

She was very thrilled to be made an honorary bard - to receive the tribute of Wales' own honours list. She chose the name Mari Hopcyn because her Welsh master, Mr Eic Davies at the Grammar School always called her by that name when she was taking part in the school Welsh plays.

Her Welsh records are being despatched in their hundreds to Japan, Germany, Austria, etc., where her fans are learning Welsh. I received several letters from Japanese teenagers this week, partly written in Welsh.

One boy wrote a post-script - 'Cofiwch fi at eich merch' which means "Remember me to your daughter"; and after all it means that Mary is helping to promote the Welsh language in countries that might never hear it, and this pleases her very much.

Many thanks to Pat Richmond for featuring this article on her original Mary Hopkin Friendly Society site.