Diamond in the Land of Dragons

Our public engagement ambassadors visit Wales for the National Eisteddfod festival

Prof. Julie Williams, Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales talking to Alun Ashton, Diamond Light Source
Prof. Julie Williams, Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales talking to Alun Ashton, Diamond Light Source
Welsh scientific talent makes up a substantial portion of Diamond’s user base, with over 170 scientists affiliated with institutions based in Wales. Recently, a Welsh television company, S4C Dibendraw, aired a documentary about Diamond and its impact on Welsh scientists and science. Keen to further highlight this productive relationship with our neighbours to the West, Diamond staff recently travelled to Wales to take part in the country’s most popular festival, the National Eisteddfod, an event that has been described as Wales’ cultural Olympics.
 
The Eisteddfod is held annually in the first week of August, changing its location between North, South and Mid Wales each year and attracting in the region of 160,000 visitors over a period of 8 days. The modern day National Eisteddfod goes back to the latter part of the eighteenth century, but the full history of the Eisteddfod can be traced back to bardic competitions held by Lord Rhys in Cardigan Castle in 1176. For participants in the festival, the week-long event is the culmination of months of preparation and local competitions to find choirs, actors, dancers, poets and artists to perform at the festival. But one of the most popular attractions on the ‘Maes’ (event field) is the ‘Pabell Gwyddoniaeth’ (Science Tent).
Professor Andrew Harrison, CEO talking to Alun Ashton of Diamond Light Source
Professor Andrew Harrison, CEO talking to Alun Ashton of Diamond Light Source
And so a team of public engagement ambassadors travelled to Meifod in mid-Wales to manage a Diamond stand, and meet and greet thousands of people. High-profile visitors to the stand included Prof Julie Williams, the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Welsh Assembly; broadcasters including Adam Walton and BBC Radio Wales’s Science Café; as well as a range of academics, teachers, farmers, poets, and of course toddlers, each enjoying a variety of activities and discussions with the Diamond team.
 
The group were also helped out by Andrew Evans, Professor of Materials Physics and currently Director of the Institute of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Aberystwyth. Andrew uses Diamond to study the science and applications of carbon-based materials such as diamond, graphene, SiC, organic semiconductors and bio-molecules.
 
Diamond’s CEO, Andrew Harrison, who also took part in the event, observes: “Judging from the face to face contact during my too brief stay, this was a fantastic event. And from the faces of the volunteers on the Diamond stand, I think it’s safe to say that our ambassadors enjoyed it as much as the visitors!”
So a big ‘Thank You’ to the Eisteddfod Festival and to Wales for having us at this wonderful event. We hope you enjoyed the experience as much as we did!