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Well John Cleese….I really am Welsh and proud of it.

January 6, 2014


It’s official!

After 55 years of telling people that I am not Welsh, in reply to their query about the origins of my name – Olwynne, I can now say, with great pride – Yes! I am Welsh.

So how did this come about and how did I not know this important piece of information for 55 years? Life is a journey of unfolding mysteries.

Like all good journeys there are many paths that were traveled to reach this point, with twists and turns along the way.

Let me explain….

Throughout this lifetime I have felt different – I didn’t fit in with the norm.

One of my many conscious thoughts about not fitting in, was that I had a funny name, which people couldn’t and in some cases still can’t, pronounce and spell.

Not only was it a difficult name to spell but to add to the challenge, my mother added an extra ‘n’ and ‘e’ just for good measure.

Until adulthood I never found another living soul who had the name Olwynne.

To add to my confusion people would ask with regular monotony was I ‘Welsh’? I would reply that I had no Welsh heritage; my mother just liked the name.

As the years went by I found that I had a fondness for Wales and loved to hear the Welsh accent. Until my recent discovery I wondered whether I might have been trying to associate it with my name’s origin, and was satisfied at some level by that possibility.

The next layer of this journey is set back in the time of King Arthur and the isle of Avalon.

Arthur, Merlin, Guenevere, Vivian and Avalon have held my fascination for years.  I even played Guenevere in the musical ‘Camelot’ in 1983.

In 1988 I had an out-of-body experience that changed my life  and from that time on Wales, England, Avalon, Merlin and Arthur featured and continue to feature heavily on my pathway. The legends of Camelot and Avalon are in my heart and mind regularly. In fact, I have been writing a book since 1990 which is set in that time.

Until 10 days ago I had become stuck as to the setting of my story, trying for years to place it in Britain in and around Glastonbury, which is said to be the seat of Avalon. Now I know where my story is set and why I have struggled to see it in its entirety.

map of Anglesey

In the true nature of synchronicity, a future monarch of Great Britain and Wales was to play his part in my discovery, when in 2010 Prince William of Wales took a position with RAF Search & Rescue based in Anglesey, Wales.

I don’t remember how his appointment came to my attention, I just know that from that moment on, whenever I heard the name Anglesey, it would light up my mind; a warmth and excitement would come over me. So off I went to Google Maps and looked it up to discover, it was a large island off the west coast of Wales. Seeing the island felt familiar, as if I already knew where and what it was and was just remembering it again after a long absence. I felt quite emotional about discovering Anglesey’s presence. How had I not known about it all these years I asked myself?

Well now I did. The question that permeated my discovery was, “why did I feel so strongly about this Welsh island?”

To add to the mystery, every time I thought about Anglesey I heard the words in my mind – The Holy Isle.  On hearing these words my heart would expand, bringing a warmth and excitement with it. The Holy Isle – Avalon?  Merlin?  Ambrosius? Arthur?  Their names seemed to come with the words, but there was more to it as well. Another layer that I just couldn’t access; a missing piece to the puzzle.

I love reading and have devoured many books throughout my life. I don’t just read any old thing, instead books seem to come to my attention and in the past months I have been experiencing a drought in this area. I wasn’t concerned by the absence of reading material as I have been occupied by so much else; my work as a teacher, guide and therapist in the Reincarnation/Past Lives, Conscious Living field.

But things were about to change…

During the 2013 Christmas break, my dear hubby Jon was on call as a Contract Embalmer and received a callout to attend a case that needed his expert attention.  I decided to go with him, which was not something I had done for many months previous.

As we were about to leave I felt the need to take a book with me and just as this thought arrived, I saw in my minds eyes, a book I had on my shelf. It was of course about reincarnation and the title is

Reincarnation – True Stories of Past Lives by Roy Stemman.  I felt that this was significant enough to follow the lead, so I extracted it from the book case and took it with me, along with my little note book I carry everywhere.

The next morning I began reading, making notes of leads to follow and relevant information that could assist me in my own studies and work.

Later, I went out to my workroom to research these leads on the internet and found myself as I refer to it, ‘following the rabbit down the hole’. I went to many places and eventually ended up on a site which talked of ‘The Druids of Anglesey and The Isle of Man’.  There it was again!

My heart began to race and I felt as if another piece of the puzzle had fallen into place.  I had read much about the Druids, but this information had evaded my radar until now.  Just then the phone rang and it was my sister Barbara.  We talked about many things until somehow the conversation made its way to our great grandmother. Barbara said, “Our great grandmother came from Wales.” I was stunned. Immediately I thought, ‘she came from Anglesey’, but I didn’t voice it at the time.

Barbie sent me an email with the info and sure enough, our maternal great grandmother came from Anglesey, Wales.  Not only did she come from Anglesey, she was born in Holyhead, which in an island, a Channels breadth off the island of Anglesey and is known as the Holy Island.  My heart sang.  The pieces were falling into place.  I felt hugely excited, overwhelmed with joy, and finally whole. I had made sense out of so many of my thoughts and feelings throughout my life.

As well as my Welsh roots, I am also Irish, English and Scottish and a mix of wherever these lines of lineage they are derived from and let’s not forget that I am a New Zealander and extremely proud of that.

As for the connection to Arthurian times, it was as if I could see them all, ancestors, myth and legend along with my great grandmother, all standing in front of me saying – “Well there you go then. You have finally found your way here. Welcome home.”

holy island anglesey

Now to Mr Cleese…

John Cleese and company on stage in New Zealand tour 2005.

John Cleese and company on stage in New Zealand tour 2005.

In December 2005 John Cleese toured New Zealand with his production, ‘John Cleese — His Life, Times and Current Medical Problems’.

I had been working as a crew member for professional theatrical touring companies and had recently worked as a dresser on the touring play, ‘Then Comes Love’, starring Zoe Lucker and Shane Cortese.  The Stage Manager must have liked my work as he recommended me to work in wardrobe with the John Cleese show on the Christchurch leg of the tour.

I rocked up to the Isaac Theatre Royal with excitement and anticipation expecting to meet up with the head of wardrobe only to find that there was no such person. In fact that person was me.  That’s when the nerves really set in.  I was ushered into a large dressing room which was full of boxes, trunks and bags etc. and as I always do, I pulled up my sleeves and just got on with it.

A couple of hours later I was ironing this large Ralph Lauren shirt, the property of Mr Cleese, and was interrupted by a voice that we all know so well.

“Hello. Who are you?”

I took a deep breath, checked that my chin was not hanging embarrassingly on my chest and looked up to see the man himself standing to my left, a kind but quizzical look  on his face.

“I am Olwynne”, I replied, “Your wardrobe mistress.”

He then said what so many others had said throughout my life – “Olwynne? You are not welsh are you?”

To which I replied as always – “No. I am not.”

He then stated with great emphasis – “Good. My parents hated the Welsh.”

I would expect no less from this a man.

Well Mr Cleese… I hope you get to read this someday…. I am at last Welsh and very, very proud of it!

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