THE Llangollen International Eisteddfod was established in the wake of the Second World War to bring about peaceful relationships between people across the world. And in that tradition, an important part of the annual celebration involves prison inmates who stage their own performances as part of their rehabilitation process.

The festival of international cultures, music and arts, founded in 1947, involves more than 50,000 people from about 50 countries every year, but away from the colourful festival site in Llangollen, the Eisteddfod runs outreach events which includes a visit to HMP Berwyn in Wrexham.

During May and June this year, residents at the category C prison took part in creative arts workshops led by the Reducing Reoffending Partnership, Coleg Berwyn and the Welsh Government lead for equalities. The workshops encouraged the residents to produce art, short stories, poetry and music which related to the themes of Welsh culture, hope and friendship. The ‘Berwyn Eisteddfod’ then gave residents the chance to perform their work onstage.

The show took place on July 4 and the performance categories were judged by a panel of representatives including Jason Kelsall, HR manager at HMP Berwyn, Rachel James, head of business assurance at HMP Berwyn and John Gambles, Llangollen Eisteddfod outreach coordinator. The event concluded with a colourful display by special guests, the Real Folk International Academy from Punjab in India. Their performance of the traditional Punjabi dance, which received a standing ovation from the audience, was followed by a multicultural buffet.

Mr Gambles said: “The mini Eisteddfod has been a huge success at Berwyn Prison and I am honoured to have been on the judging panel. The key message of the Llangollen Musical Eisteddfod is to promote peace and harmony within communities.”

Other outreach events during the festival included performances by Colombian and Malaysian artists at care homes in Llangollen and Wrexham.

Mr Gambles added: “These outreach schemes offer people who do not have the opportunity to attend the festival a chance to enjoy performances from international guests.”