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Europa Nostra Awards - 7 November 2019

Five years ago when I started at Yr Ysgwrn I should have started a diary, I am not the only one who regrets not doing so. With every unique experience that comes with working at this remarkable home another one comes along to trump it.

Last week, over three days is Paris, came more incredible experiences for Yr Ysgwrn’s history. On Monday the 28th of October in the Hôtel de Ville (Paris’s elegant City Hall) Yr Ysgwrn shared the stage with 26 other award winning heritage projects in Europe. We were the only UK representatives. Each project had 5 minutes to introduce themselves, and Yr Ysgwrn was last.  After listening to the successes of projects such as the conservation works on carvings at the ‘Portal of Glory’ in Santiago de Compostella Cathedral in Spain, and reparation works after a fire in the Chapel of the Holy Shroud in Italy, it was our turn. So how did Naomi, the Head of Cultural Heritage at the Park, go about keeping people’s attention when they were really ready to go home? Well, she talked about wallpaper of course. From the audience’s reaction it was obvious that there was a place for a small heritage project from the middle of Snowdonia amongst the heavy weights of European heritage. The commonality between everyone in the room was the passion and love towards European heritage and the want to protect these sites for future generations.

The award ceremony was held on the Tuesday evening at the Théâtre du Châtelet. Around 800 people attended the ceremony including representatives from heritage sites, EU institutions and member states. The Union was mentioned a few times during the evening, and being the only representatives from the UK I had the feeling of being the naughty kid in assembly- where you’re not named but everyone knows they’re talking about you. However, there was a united belief that, whatever the political results over the next few months, the UK will still have a place within Europa Nostra. Phew!
There was a film introduction to each project and although the pronunciation of Yr Ysgwrn, Trawsfynydd needed work it was a great experience to see Yr Ysgwrn alongside the best, being one of the best. A certificate was awarded to each project before moving on to the rest of the evening.  

After a few canapés (tiny food doesn’t fill anyone does it) was the results of the Grand Prix and the people’s choice award. Although Yr Ysgwrn didn’t win, the people’s choice award winner had caught my attention the day before. The Fortified Settlement of Mutso, in Georgia was a project to safeguard a village built on the steep cliff border between Georgia and Russia and was once essential for the country’s defence. Well worth a look

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