For the first time in its 100-year history the Jèrriais Section of the Jersey Eisteddfod took place virtually this week.
When the curtains closed on the Eisteddfod in November 2019 the Jèrriais Section was flying high. New Dramatic Presentation and Choral Singing classes had resulted in the highest participation in years. Children arrived in coachloads from schools across the island to participate as individuals, pairs, groups and whole classes. St Ouen’s Parish Hall was packed to the rafters, with standing room only, and organisers were looking for a larger venue for the following year.
Fast forward to winter 2020 and the event faced a wholly unexpected and much greater challenge. In the midst of a global pandemic and with restrictions on large-scale gatherings, finding a bigger venue was no longer an issue. The greatest concern was finding a way to hold the competition at all.
Unfortunately, the event was scaled back meaning the Adult Section of the 2021 competition was cancelled. However, mèrcie bein des fais to the wonders of modern technology and the continued support of Jersey Eisteddfod sponsor Butterfield, the Junior Section made the successful transition online. Entries consisted of performances video recorded by Jèrriais teachers and participants’ parents. These were viewed by the Adjudicateur and Adjoint using online conferencing software and marked in the usual way. The performances and adjudicator’s comments are due to be broadcast via virtual school assemblies, and certificates and trophies awarded in school.
Marianne Sargent, Jèrriais Teacher and Event Organiser, said: “We are so proud of the children. They worked very hard under extremely trying circumstances to produce some amazing performances. It is fantastic that the Jèrriais Section was able to fly the flag for the Jersey Eisteddfod this year”.
Michael Blackie, Jersey Eisteddfod Committee Chairman, said: “I am delighted that, despite the obstacles in its way caused by the coronavirus, the Jèrriais Section were able to hold their portion of the Jersey Eisteddfod Language Festival today. The fact that this event was able to take place is a testament to the dogged determination and technical skills of the organisers and the enthusiasm of the competitors. They are owed, and richly deserve, our hearty congratulations”.
Noel McLaughlin, Managing Director of Butterfield in Jersey said: “The Eisteddfod is a wonderful celebration of the arts and a brilliant reflection of the calibre of talent on the island, and this year was no exception. The organisers and performers have embraced the difficult circumstances and demonstrated a real ‘show must go on’ attitude. Their efforts and commitment to the arts has kept the spirit of the event alive during this turbulent and challenging year. Well done to all involved”.