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The Annual William Condry Memorial Lecture

The idea for an annual lecture to commemorate the life and work of William Moreton Condry (1918–1998) was originally mooted shortly after his death by his good friend and frequent companion on ornithological trips, the great Anglo-Welsh poet R.S. Thomas. For various reasons nothing happened at the time. Ten years after Bill’s death, the nature-writer Jim Perrin – also a friend of Bill’s – in the course of a conversation with Welsh poet and novelist Sian Northey expressed regret that nothing was being done to keep memory alive of one of Wales’s finest naturalists and nature-writers. Out of this conversation, in October 2008 there came the first Condry Memorial event, held on a weekday evening at Tabernacl/MoMA in Machynlleth, with the support of the Welsh Academy and the Guardian newspaper, to which Bill had contributed a fortnightly “Country Diary” for over forty years.

Though on a small scale it proved a great success and was very well-attended. In 2009 the organizers expanded the event to a day-long festival at the same venue, with a dozen speakers taking part. It included the first in the series of Annual William Condry Memorial Lectures, given by Gwyn Thomas, then National Poet of Wales, on the theme of “Nature in Welsh Poetry”. Another ambitious programme of speakers was assembled the following year and administration was handed over to the National Library of Wales.

After the announcement of substantial cuts to the National Library’s annual budget in 2011, the event’s founders, after consulting the wishes of Bill’s widow, Mrs. Penny Condry, decided to fix the format of the memorial event as an annual evening English-language lecture on a natural-history or nature-writing theme, to be given on the first Saturday in October at Tabernacl/MoMA, and to be administered by an advisory committee of people knowledgeable in the field. The lecture has become an established and self-financing event in the natural-history calendar, a useful archive, and a fitting memorial to one of our finest modern naturalists.