By Daily Wales correspondent
A combined S4C and BBC Wales documentary will mark the 150th anniversary of the first journey to South America by Welsh settlers.
On May 28th, 1865 a group of 153 passengers left Liverpool for a two month sea journey, taking them the 7,000 miles to Patagonia in Argentina.
In the S4C programme, Patagonia, Huw Edwards meets with some of the descendants of those first settlers who had dreamt of building a new Wales as a safe haven for the Welsh language.
Huw Edwards said:
“I’ve travelled the world in my capacity as a journalist and broadcaster, but this is the first time I’ve experienced the Welsh life in Chubut Province in southern Argentina.The programme, to be shown on May 31, explores the prospects for the Welsh language in the region and asks what the future holds for the culture the pioneers strived to protect.
“The communities of Chubut and the Andes were both warm and sincere in their welcome, proud of their Welsh ancestry, and keen to lay firm foundations for the future.”
It’s estimated that around 5,000 people still speak Welsh as their first language, with a further 25,000 having it as their second language.
Dafydd Rhys, S4C Director of Content, said:
“We are all set at S4C to celebrate the fascinating history of the Welsh people and those of Welsh heritage in Patagonia with a range of exciting new programmes and a rich archive.Celebrations will be held in Wales and Patagonia to mark the anniversary and in addition to Patagonia Huw Edwards on S4C, Patagonia with Huw Edwards will be broadcast on BBC1 Wales on June 1st.
“This authoritative documentary by Huw Edwards, one of the leading Welsh broadcasters of our generation, will be the best possible taster for the season that is scheduled to mark the 150th anniversary of the landing in July.
“We are delighted to be working closely with the BBC and many other organisations to make this national celebration truly memorable.”