A plaque shows where legendary harpist lived in Newtown

Reporter:

Elgan Hearn

THREE descendants of the legendary Romani Gypsy triple harpist, John Roberts, joined schoolchildren to unveil a plaque in his memory in Newtown.

The plaque in Frolic Street, where John Roberts once lived with his wife and 13 children, has been placed there thanks to a Big Lottery grant to make people more aware of his life.

The Lottery grant enabled harpist Harriet Earis and storyteller, Peter Stevenson, to work together to present the story of John’s life, with some of his own harp tunes and stories that he used to tell.

Performances took place in three local schools, at the Monty Club and at the Newtown Food Festival.

John Roberts’ descendant, Vanessa Wood-Davies, said: “I just think it’s amazing that this Romani family has been recognised in this way.

“I bet there aren’t many Romanis with plaques"

The plaque ceremony was also attended by Robin Huw Bowen, an internationally known triple harpist, who has worked tirelessly to make people aware of John Roberts and the triple harp.

Robin said: “Well done Newtown.

“I think it’s vitally important and it’s a joy that you’re putting this plaque up, because John Roberts has a unique place in our Welsh musical cultural history.”

Mayor of Newtown, Sue Newham, said: “This project has been enjoyable from first to last.

“The wonderful work of Harriet and Peter has brought John Roberts to people’s attention and the enthusiasm of the schools has been lovely.

“This plaque is the end of the ‘Celebrating John Roberts’ project, but the first milestone in the town council’s planned heritage plaque trail, which will be unveiled over the next couple of years.

“I would like to thank local storyteller, Rory Evans, who donated proceeds from his storytelling walks to help develop the heritage trail.”

n To find out more about John Roberts, visit the new page on Newtown Town Council website – http://newtown.org.uk/app/webroot/heritage-trail/john-roberts/

Email:

elgan.hearn@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the County Times

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