ST DAVID'S DAY AND A DAZE OF DAVIDS: No guessing what Gil, Hywel and I were doing on the March 1!

We began the day at the All Wales St David's Day Service, at St John's Church, St John's Square, Cardiff.

Hosted by the lord mayor of Cardiff, Cllr Gareth Neale, the service was attended by many of the civic heads of Wales and other dignitaries, including Archbishop Peter Smith, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff and the presiding officer of the Welsh Assembly, Lord Dafydd Ellis-Thomas.

The service was a dignified occasion, with prayers for all sections of our society by representatives of various voluntary and statutory organisations, such as the University of Cardiff, the Lord Lieutenant of South Glamorgan and the fire service.

Choral music was provided by the Castell Coch Choral Society, and the hymn singing was bilingual with each member of the congregation invited to sing either the Welsh or English versions of the hymns. I sang the Welsh version, just for a change!

Sitting across the aisle from us were Mr and Mrs Weaver, so there were at least four Torfaen residents in the congregation - two of whom could sing!

Later in the day with David Davies: In the evening we were at another concert, where the Torfaen participants outnumbered all the rest!

The event was the city of Newport's Grand Concert for St David's Day, at the Newport Centre.

The proceeds of the concert were for the mayor of Newport's charities, which are Growing Space and the St Woolos Cathedral Restoration Fund.

The evening was a feast of music, celebrating our Welsh culture and Heritage. I felt so proud of the fact that three of the choirs performing were from Torfaen, namely, Pontnewydd Male Choir, musical director Walford Hutchings; Cwmbran Male Choir, musical director, Sarah Jones, and the Garndiffaith Gleemen, musical director Gethin Banfield.

The other two choirs performing were City of Newport Male Choir, musical director, Frank Jones, and the children's choir from St John's on the Hill School, Chepstow, conductor, Chris Ward.

There was no competition amongst the male choirs, though, as they sang as one massed choir of over 100 voices; this was music to make one's spine tingle!

As befitted the occasion, many of the musical items had a special connection with Welsh culture, both sacred and secular. Songs such as Gwahoddiad, Rachie, Men of Harlech and We'll Keep a Welcome.

The guest artiste was Holly Holyoake, the amazing nineteen-year-old soprano who is now of international fame, and is in such demand that we all felt privileged to hear her perform in her home town.

Holly really is a fantastic performer and is receiving universal acclaim.

Beverley Humphreys was the effervescent MC and also performed several lively solo numbers; she was still amazingly energetic, having also appeared in the service in Cardiff.

Beverley has sung in opera with the WNO, and has a superb one-woman show as well as presenting various radio programmes, she is also the chair of Growing Space.

The young children of St John's were not overcome by the reputation of their fellow artistes and gave a sublime performance with a varied repertoire including, The Lord Bless You and Keep You; Here I Am, Lord; Bridge Over Troubled Water and Bless the Lord.

The evening ended with another musical treat, as the choirs were joined by a brass quintet which included some more Torfaen residents, Elise Holland, Alexander O'Neil, Sarah Jones, Sean O'Neil and the legendary David Davies.

David is not only in the Cwmbran Male Choir but is a superb euphonium player and also Pontypool Poet. I think a dose of David's humour and joy of life should be supplied to everyone on the NHS; he is the best anti-depressant around!

Mr Welsh and the Spirit of Wales: The next day Gil and I were at St Alban's Primary School, Pontypool, to hear the children perform items at their Welsh assembly, and also to talk to them about the role of mayor and to read a favourite story to them.

The children and staff were dressed as characters from books to celebrate National Book Day. The members of staff were all dressed as cops and robbers!

The new head, Mr Welsh, is an inspirational figure. It was a joy to be with him and Father Hayman on this day, it was quite unusual to hear prayers said by a head dressed in a robber's outfit!

DAFFODILS R' US: Straight afterwards we returned to the Civic Centre, Pontypool, to receive some very special visitors; our local Welsh Playgroup was continuing the tradition of bringing its three-year-olds in Welsh costume to visit the mayor, bearing traditional gifts, this year it was daffodils.

We had a joyous time listening to them singing simple Welsh songs and putting their marks in the mayoral visitors book.

Melissa the Bard: Later in the afternoon we were nearer home, at Woodlands Primary School for the school eistedfodd.

Woodlands Infants School and Woodlands Junior School Cwmbran have recently amalgamated, and I serve on the school governing body.

Many of the school governors were present, and Community Councillor Jack Challenger, Gil and I, presented the winners' awards for all the various activities in which they had been competing that day.

The highlight of the afternoon was when the school bard was crowned with the traditional unsheathing of the huge ornamental sword.

The bard, Melissa, was duly crowned to cries of Heddwch! (There is Peace amongst us!) Well done Melissa, pupils, staff and head teacher Jaci Bates on celebrating St David's Day in such style.

Ending with Hwyl and Apollo: Our celebration of Welsh Culture ended in magnificent style with the Apollo Singers' St David's Day Concert at the Millennium Hall, Garndiffaith.

This wonderful choir of mixed voices opened the concert with a lively medley from Oliver. The choir had as guest artists the very talented and amusing , Christopher Bourton, accompanied by his father Eos, and young thirteen-year-old Rhianna Davis with the most beautiful voice. .

The children's choir of Ysgol Bryn Onnen sang with great liveliness in Welsh, to close the first half of the concert whilst towards the end of the evening we were all captivated by an unscheduled performance by Rhianna's younger brother, Nathan.

Nathan earlier in the week had been the winning soloist in the Urdd Eistedfodd and it was wonderful to hear this very young lad sing in Torfaen.

Well done to all involved in the preparation and performance of this superb concert, with special thanks to musical director, Eileen Bosustow, accompanist, Hilary and quick-witted MC, Mr Cole.

David the Chair: Our weekend ended in the company of another David, David Williams, who is the chair of Cwmbran Community Council, at the Community Council's Civic Dinner.

David is one of the community councillors for Upper Cwmbran, just as I am one of the county borough councillors for the ward, and it has been a great pleasure for Gil and I to share this special year with David and his wife Lucy.

David and I have even chosen the same charity, St David's Foundation (one of my five charities).

There were over 100 community representatives present at the dinner, including the head students of the local comprehensive schools, Jeff Scrivens, Fire Chief; Inspector Jim Baker; Rt Hon Paul Murphy MP; Lynne Neagle AM and her husband Huw; Cllr Bob Wellington, leader of Torfaen County Borough Council, with his wife Shirley, and Cllr Evelyn Winfield, leader of Cwmbran Community Council with her husband Maurice.

There were also the chairs of the other community councils and many Cwmbran councillors. This was an evening held to celebrate the work of Cwmbran Community Council and the groups working in partnership with it.

I was a community councillor for some years, and I know the hard work put into voluntary service by these dedicated representatives of their communities.

CELEBRATING Dewi Sant: So, readers, a week in which our valley has celebrated, in many ways, the life of St David and the culture of Wales.

You don't have to be born in Wales to be Welsh, although it helps with getting into the national rugby squad!

Our saint's day, commemorating the day on which he died, March 1, 589 AD, is a day on which we all relish being alive and being alive in Wales.

Incidentally, over 50 churches are named after him in South Wales and many educational and cultural establishments.

Of course, St David's is the small Pembrokeshire Cathedral City named after him which is the location of his monastery. Well worth a visit if you ever feel like a day away from Torfaen!