Urdd Gobaith Cymru celebrates 100 years by gaining Guinness World Record title

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Wales's largest national youth movement, Urdd Gobaith Cymru, began its centenary celebrations today (January 25) with a virtual birthday party and two Guiness World Record title attempts.

Between 10.45am and 11.45am, the Urdd and supporters across Wales attempted two Guinness World Records titles by uploading the most videos of people singing the same song ('Hei Mistar Urdd') to Facebook and Twitter.

It was later revealed on Twitter that their attempt was successful and they now hold the title for the largest number of people to upload a video of themselves singing a song, their version of Hei Mistar Urdd – the organisation’s anthem, to Facebook and Twitter in one hour.

Over 80,000 have registered to take part in the celebrations, from schools to charities and community groups - including children at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern in Cardiff.

One pupil said: "It's really fun to do things like this. I've been part of the Urdd since I can remember. It's really exciting as obviously it's their hundredth birthday."

Another said: "I've been a member of the Urdd since I was in primary school and today is its 100th birthday and I was really excited and had so much fun."

A third added: "I love being part of the Urdd. I really enjoy doing the singing, the sports and today has been great too - we've been laughing and doing lots of singing so celebrating this has been a really nice thing to do."

One lady who has fond memories of the Urdd, is Marian James from Cwmafan. Now in her nineties, she was one of the first to attend the north Wales camp, Glan Llyn.

"There wasn't a lot going on at the time. It was just that we were very, very friendly with everybody. There were no activities as such there but we would make our own."

Marian James, from Cwmafan, says the organisation has played a major role in her life. Credit: ITV Wales

The Urdd have local groups called Aelwydydd that help organise activities, and it's where Marian met her future husband, and also volunteered for many years.

"We used to have debates and we used to have quizzes and we used to do plays, we used to have nights out and trips to different places."

100 years ago, in an article in Cymru’r Plant magazine, the Urdd's founder, Syr Ifan ab Owen Edwards asked the children of Wales to join a new movement called ‘Urdd Gobaith Cymru Fach’, as he did not feel there were enough opportunities for them to use the Welsh language.

The organisation has grown to one of the largest youth movements in Europe, hosting large events including the annual Eisteddfod - which was last held in 2019 due to the pandemic.

Today, the National Voluntary Youth Organisation has over 55,000 members, 170 staff members and 10,000 volunteers.

Siân Lewis, Chief Executive of the Urdd, said: “As a nation, our debt to Syr Ifan’s vision is enormous. The Urdd has been a truly unique and innovative movement since the very beginning, and as relevant to young people today as it was a century ago.

"Reaching this special milestone is an opportunity for us to celebrate the Urdd’s story and look to the future.

As part of their celebrations, the Urdd is hoping to open the first environmental residential centre of its kind in Wales in Pembrokeshire. Credit: ITV Wales

“The Urdd has provided unique opportunities for more than 4 million children and young people in Wales to enjoy experiences through the medium of Welsh – from sport to the arts, residential, humanitarian, outdoor activities, voluntary, training, and international projects.

"It is the only organisation that offers such a wide variety to our young people and therefore deserves its place as Wales’ main youth organisation. On St Dwynwen’s Day, I call on everyone in Wales (and beyond!) to show their love towards the Urdd by joining the centenary celebrations and help us attempt an official Guinness World Records title.”

Elin Jones MS said: "One of my fondest memories of the Urdd Eisteddfod is winning the Under 15 Branch Choir competition with the Lampeter Branch, conducted by Twynog Davies, and of course the experiences of going to the Llangrannog and Glanllyn residential centres.

The Urdd's National Eisteddfod festival attracts 90,000 visitors annually. Credit: ITV Wales

"Later on, I also worked in the kitchen in Llangrannog whilst I was a student. These are all experiences that I’ll never forget. The Urdd has provided such a wide array of opportunities for so many young people over the generations.

"A huge congratulations to the Urdd for its centenary, for everything it has offered young people in Wales and for always being so ready to invest and modernise.

"Thank you to all those who are, and all those who have been, so dedicated and given so much time and effort to ensure that generations of children have and still do benefit from this fantastic youth organisation."

As part of the organisation's centenary celebrations, the Urdd is also hoping to open the first environmental residential centre of its kind in Wales in Pentre Ifan, Pembrokeshire and opening a new Water Centre in their north Wales camp, Glan-llyn.

Free admission to the 2022 Urdd National Eisteddfod in Denbighshire (30 May – 4 June) has been confirmed. Some of the year’s other highlights will have an international feel, including tours to America and Ireland, and launching the centenary Peace and Goodwill Message in Norway.

The Sport Department will lead Wales’ first Female Youth Sports Conference, #FelMerch inMarch; host the Urdd WRU 7 a side rugby tournament in April and organise the Wales Urban Games Festival in Cardiff Bay in June – which will showcase new Olympic sports such as BMX and skateboarding.