A FILMMAKER who spends his Christmases in a Powys village has made a powerful documentary about the death rural Welsh communities are battling against.

The theme of Barnaby Omar’s 13-minute video, entitled ‘Beguildy – The Home of the Shepherd’, might seem sobering, heightened by being filmed during snow that gripped Powys during lambing season in March 2023, but it encapsulates the changing face of rural Wales.

From farmers fighting to survive by their way of life, to supermarket giants offering home deliveries to remote locations, to rural schools doors swinging shut, the film speaks of the difficulties rural UK communities experience in remaining relevant.

“This is my attempt at preserving the memory of a community under threat from the changing modern world,” says Barnaby, 26.

“This film is an attempt to bookmark a chapter of history, for those hopefully to look back in generations to come on how people in the country used to get by.”

Central to Barnaby’s film is Beguildy’s post office and shop. His grandmother Elizabeth Edwards, known to all as ‘Ann’, has been the postmistress here for 46 years.

“I’m very aware of my status as an outsider, but I feel deeply connected to Beguildy and it certainly feels like home to me,” said Barnaby, who studied philosophy and religion at Bangor University, before taking a masters in film practice at Bournemouth Film School.

“I still feel a great emotional attachment to the village and the valley as a whole.”

County Times:  Barnaby and my grandmother Ann Edwards, who had run the post office in Beguildy for almost half a century. Barnaby and my grandmother Ann Edwards, who had run the post office in Beguildy for almost half a century. (Image: Barnaby Omar)

The seeds for the Beguildy documentary were sown during the Newbury native’s final-year project at Bournemouth, a piece on the history of another rural community. It focused on a farm that had been in his father’s family, near Malvern, for nine generations – going back to 1775.

“My grandparents, Trevor and Ann Edwards, moved to Beguildy in 1977. My grandmother has run the post office and stores ever since,” added Barnaby.

“I have visited my grandparents pretty much every Christmas since I was born, and spend weekends and holidays there as often as I can.

“It’s a hub for our entire family. Growing up, it was always second nature to me that the shop (which connects directly onto the kitchen) was the hub of the village, too.


“In fact, since it’s the only shop between Knighton and Newtown, much of the local community depend on Ann for their daily essentials. Whether it be the regulars picking up their daily newspaper, milk and bread or someone new passing through stopping to pick up a quick snack, the shop is always there for them.

“My grandmother even recognises some regulars by the sound they make when opening the shop door.

“However, over the last half century, my grandmother has seen a great deal of change in Beguildy and the valley as a whole. The shop has an ever-decreasing footfall, as the popularity of home delivery has increased.

“Supermarkets have undercut small suppliers and retailers, small family farms are run into the ground by more efficient, larger farms.

“The landscape and sociological makeup of areas like Radnorshire have come to change quite dramatically. This is epitomised, I think, by the closure of the school in Beguildy, which is addressed in the film.”

The village school was shut in 2013. It has been followed by raft of closures.

County Times:  Farmer Martin Watkins features in the film and speaks lovingly of his role as a farmer. Farmer Martin Watkins features in the film and speaks lovingly of his role as a farmer. (Image: Barnaby Omar)

The title of Barnaby’s film comes from the English translation of Beguildy (an anglicisation of the Bugeildy); ‘bugail’ (shepherd) and ‘tŷ’ (house).

He ends on a more uplifting note, speaking to farmer Martin Watkins and his sons, modern-day shepherds, who are holding fast to their way of life.

Barnaby was heavily influenced by the 2008 film ‘Sleep Furiously’, by Gideon Koppel, a poetic tribute to the farming community of Treufeurig in Ceredigion.

Barnaby thanked his friends and fellow film crew members – who were not paid for their roles. They include Jack Ruthenberg (cinematographer and colour), Thomas Zapata (editor), Jake Shelvey (sound recordist), Elijah Vincent (sound mixer/designer) and Asher Yang (composer).

Special thanks also go to Joanna Edwards, his mum, and of course Ann.

The film is available for free on Vimeo, visit https://vimeo.com/908432228?share=copy. You can also watch on YouTube (but Vimeo is better quality), at https://youtu.be/oDlA-W2kc0k?si=MOs6QpYvJT47Nccp.