New man in charge of the Eisteddfod that is Wales’s cultural crown jewel

The new man at the helm of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod has hailed the festival as a jewel in Wales’s cultural crown.

David Neal, 54, from Colwyn Bay, a chartered accountant who has worked extensively in the public and private sector, is the new Chief Executive of the Eisteddfod.

He was appointed this week from a shortlist of four candidates following a rigorous selection process overseen by the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Government’s Major Events Unit.

The new man in charge of the 67th Eisteddfod, which takes place at Llangollen from July 9 to July 14, is originally from Woking, in Surrey, but has lived in North Wales for the past 18 years after moving here to lecture in accounting and finance at Bangor.

He was subsequently the Director of Resources for the North Wales Probation Service and for the last two years has run his own companies alongside his wife, Colette, specialising in business consultancy and ‘time-banking’.

The couple, who have three children, also run a dance tuition business specialising in modern jive and give classes in Rhyl, as well supporting Leroc North Wales venues in Denbigh and Llandudno Junction as volunteers.

He said: “I am delighted to have been given the chance to work with the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, it is a wonderful event, a jewel in Wales’s cultural crown, with a great history and tradition and so many fantastic volunteers.

“They have worked so hard to turn the event around and now it is heading in the right direction after making a profit last year for the first time in five years.

“They have a terrific Music Director in Eilir Owen Griffiths who has played a huge part in that transformation but they also have many unsung heroes,  who work for them and who volunteer and give their time to the event. They are absolute diamonds and that’s one of the reasons I was attracted to work with the Eisteddfod.”

David Neal has had close links with the event for the past 12 months after JOP Consulting, headed by business consultant John Pritchard and of which he is an associate director, was appointed by the Arts Council for Wales to carry out a review of the Eisteddfod in December 2011.

He said: “John and I worked on the financial planning and that led to a business plan which we presented to Carwyn Jones, the First Minister at last year’s Eisteddfod and which he was very happy with.

“Since then I have been working with the Eisteddfod, giving advice and guidance on implementing that business plan.

“The Eisteddfod is a fantastic institution and when anyone thinks of Llangollen they think of the International Eisteddfod – it’s a wonderful brand and plays a big part in putting Wales on the map.

“Our task is to reinvigorate the brand while keeping in touch with the traditions of the Eisteddfod.

“Eilir has been a big influence in building a tremendous list of concerts and the event’s strength is in that and in the quality of the choral and dance competitions but we need to develop the daytime activities on the field and make that experience more attractive.

“We also need to build stronger links with the local economy and work more closely with local businesses and to draw down outside funding and investment into the area.

“Our local community of volunteers is fantastic but we also need to reach out to the wider community as well.

“There are so many people who know about the Eisteddfod and could be attracted to it but have never been and it’s about getting them involved.”

Former Eisteddfod Chairman Gethin Davies was a member of the selection panel for the appointment and he said: “We’re delighted that David Neal has come on board and we’re confident that with his help the Eisteddfod will go from strength to strength.

“We were also very pleased with the calibre of applications – we had 11 applications and we short-listed and interviewed four and it’s very gratifying to know that so many fine people wanted to be involved with the Eisteddfod.

“It was a very rigorous process and we’re happy we have got the right man.”

Music Director Eilir Owen Griffiths added: “I believe David Neal will make an excellent Chief Executive.

“I was extremely impressed with the way he conducted himself during his time as a consultant when he helped ensure the continuing success of the festival as well as laying firm foundations for the future.

“I am delighted that he will now be given an opportunity to carry on with the good work he’s already done.

“Everything is now in place for a fantastic event this year which we are hoping will be one of the best ever.

“We have a host of wonderful artistes booked for the concerts and ticket sales are going through the roof while we have some really exciting plans to add to the colour and sense of occasion during the daytime activities. I can’t wait.”

David Neal, with his interest in dance, is particularly looking forward to the Thursday night Strictly Cuban concert with Strictly Come Dancing stars James and Ola Jordan performing with the celebrated Havana musicians of the Buena Vista Social Club.

Tickets for this year’s concerts are available from the website at and more information is also on Facebook at

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