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1925 Opening Ceremony

Sir Geraint Evans

1925 - Opening Ceremony

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Sir Geraint Evans
Portrait unveiling speech
by Huw Evans

Mr Huw Edwards, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf on my brother Alun, and our families, I should like to endorse the warm welcome extended to you by Robert Thomas, but also to thank you all personally for coming to the Memorial Hall tonight to witness the unveiling of our father’s portrait.

We are very proud that the Memorial Hall Committee had decided to honour our father, by displaying his portrait, in the Hall he thought so much of, in the town he loved and called home; and to have it unveiled by Huw Edwards, I think Dad would have called that a full house.

Huw, we are aware you know Aberaeron very well, with your family’s strong connections with the area, in particular Aberarth, nonetheless, we all welcome you here tonight but especially Alun and I, who thank you for doing us the honour of unveiling Dad’s portrait, it is very much appreciated.

As we have heard, the Hall has made great strides forward in recent years and Robert Thomas, our illustrious Chairman, has rightly thanked the people who have been instrumental in ensuring the survival of the Hall and bringing it to where it is today. But while I have the opportunity it would be remiss of me not to mention the enormous contribution to the Hall that Robert himself has made. He has been a marvellous Chairman over the past 10 years and a huge driving force in improving and promoting the Hall. It is difficult to quantify just how much he has achieved as Chair but suffice to say the Hall owes him a great deal.

Although our father sang all over the world in all the major opera houses and concert halls, it is true to say that he did have a very special fondness for this Hall. He sang here and I remember many years ago, he was delighted to arrange a fund raising concert for the Hall, with principal singers he brought from Covent Garden. He was so very anxious that the evening should be a success, so much so that Alun and I were firmly put in our place when we reminded him that this was Aberaeron Memorial Hall and not the Albert Hall. I am pleased to say the evening was a resounding success.

When asked why he had been so prepared to give up his time to arrange this concert in the Hall, he said, “because it is a necessary and important place in the community for social and cultural events”. How true that is.

The closing of the chapels and community halls in his birthplace of Cilfynydd deeply saddened him. To him these buildings were not just a place of worship but a venue for recitals, concerts, and lectures. A place where he and others had started to hone their singing and acting skills in front of an audience, and certainly part of Welsh culture especially when hosting Eisteddfods. He once joked that the demise of these venues had a detrimental effect on the singing at Cardiff Arms Park, and had failed to put the fear of God into the English team, and that’s why Wales had lost the rugby match. He was however always mindful, as we all should be, that once these buildings have gone, they have gone forever, and that is why he was so keen for this hall to survive and prosper for future generations.

Around the world our father was very often recognised and regularly referred to by journalists as ‘Evans the Voice’, due to his distinctive, rich Welsh base baritone voice. Well here tonight we have ‘Edwards the Voice’, the most recognised face on British television and also with his distinctive Welsh tone. You can sing later if you want to Huw.

I remember my mother telling me of an interview my father gave to a journalist and how very impressed he had been with this professional, well-informed and very charming young Welshman. Unfortunately it was to be the last interview my father gave before he passed away, and the journalist, a certain Mr Huw Edwards.

In the world of journalism, it is widely accepted that Huw Edwards is one of the finest, most respected broadcasters and TV presenters, having hosted most of the BBC flagship programmes. He has presented Panorama, Newsnight, General Election Specials, the Festival of Remembrance, Trooping the Colour, the State Opening of Parliament and the 2012 Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies to name but a few, not forgetting his BAFTA award winning historical programmes. When Huw presented the 6 o’clock news it was the most watched news programme on TV. When he moved to present the prestigious, BBC 10 o’clock news, that became the most watched news programme on TV. In 2012 he presented the BBC live coverage of the wedding of Prince Williams and Kate Middleton to a TV audience, at its peak, in excess of 20 million, in the UK alone. There is no doubt - this man really does speak to a lot of people.

Huw, as I have said, it is of course a privilege for us to have you here tonight to unveil our father’s portrait, but I am equally delighted to announce on behalf of the Committee that Huw has very kindly accepted the Committee’s invitation, to become Aberaeron Memorial Hall’s first ever patron.

We consider Huw’s acceptance as patron a great coup for the Hall, because now every time we have a function, he can advertise it at the end of News at 10.

Ladies and gentlemen, before I finish, a little self-indulgence on my behalf as I have always wanted to say this……. and now over to Huw Edwards in Aberaeron.

Thank you, diolch yn fawr.