The Board of the Ontario Gymanfa Ganu Association is delighted to announce the recipient of the 2018 Gold Award. Congratulations to Alison Lawson.
What adjectives come to mind when one thinks of Alison? Extremely friendly, musical, dedicated, dependable, organized, determined, unassuming, and very Welsh! Born and bred in Llandudno, Alison has lived in Ottawa since the 1980s. She is (or has been) involved with everything Welsh in Ottawa- the Ottawa Welsh Society, the annual St David’s Day reception at the British High Commission, the Ottawa Welsh Choral Society, the University of Ottawa choir, Westminster Presbyterian Church choir and a madrigal group. But I would guess that one of her favourite choral forms is Cerdd Dant. This is a unique Welsh tradition when the Strings (i.e. Dant < Tant) plays one melody and the voice sings a counter melody. They do not start together but do end together. Alison formed a Parti Cerdd Dant in Ottawa, being responsible for all aspects of training the group- music and language.
It was Alison that was the prime mover in bringing the Festival to Ottawa in 2016. Nothing was left to chance and each “i” was dotted and each “t” crossed. Everyone agreed that it was one of the best weekends ever.
Of what is Alison herself most proud? Yr Awr Sgwrsio! In order to ensure that native Welsh speakers had the opportunity to maintain fluency in their mother tongue Alison organized a monthly get-together where only Welsh is spoken. Of late this Awr Sgwrsio has added a class for beginners with which Alison is involved.
Along with several other Ottawa choristers Alison often joins Merched Dewi in Toronto for special events. She was also a member of the North American Welsh Choir and toured with them to Patagonia.
She was a Board member of the Ontario Welsh Festival for many years and worked tirelessly in the background for the WNNGA, organizing two of their Eisteddfodau.
In addition to her work promoting Wales and Welsh culture, Alison volunteers with a reading programme for Grade 7 students and also works with the four daughters of the Syrian family that she helped sponsor.
Along with her husband John (also very musical, thank goodness) she does find time to enjoy the outdoors (even in winter!) and to crisscross the country in order to visit their grandchildren in Nanaimo and Boston.
As quoted by one of the Ottawa Welsh community, Alison is being honoured for her many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hours of volunteer work for the Welsh community in Ontario and Beyond.
The Gold Award will be presented on April 28th at the Grand Banquet being held during the Ontario Welsh Festival in Kingston, Ontario.