'Think positive: New Year can only get better….can’t it?' - Dafydd Wigley


I don’t remember a new year when so many people have uttered heart-felt sighs of relief as they bid good-riddance to the passing year.

Though overshadowed by momentous developments, there were highly memorable occasions during 2016.

The outstanding event, by a mile, was the Euro 2016 soccer championship. Reaching the top four amongst European nations, Wales won immense praise for both the quality of our soccer and the fans impeccable behaviour.

I feel a warm glow every time I recall those few glorious weeks. The squad’s massive home-coming welcome will stay in the mind for many years.

Secondly, if I may indulge in a political highlight, Leanne Wood winning the Rhondda National Assembly seat off Labour, was huge. It shows what can be done with commitment, flair and much hard work.

Third, for me, comes a quite remarkable event in Caernarfon this autumn. The castle hosted a “Poppy-Fest”, a century after the awful carnage of the Somme – a low-point in human history whose lessons we must never forget.

Caernarfon overflowed with thousands of late autumn visitors. It was great to hear them praising the town for its many attractive little shops and excellent eating places.

It should be “all-brains-on-deck” now, to see how else the castle can be used to host other events that will attract visitors by the thousand and so boost the north-west Wales economy.

Other positives of 2016 included the Aberfan tribute “Cantata Memoria” by Karl Jenkins and Mererid Hopwood - being performed in New York’ Carnegie Hall next month.

The performance of Welsh athletes in the Rio Olympics – Jade Jones, Hannah Mills, Elinor Barker and Owain Doull - brought home a record-breaking four gold medals.

For us as a family, the outstanding Fenni National Eisteddfod had an extra dimension with the world premier of Catrin Finch’s highly acclaimed multimedia “Serenestial”.

We must not allow these memorable events – and many others – to be drowned out by the year’s two truly disastrous happenings.

The Brexit vote to quit the European Union will assuredly come back to haunt us. The political assassination of Jo Cox standing out as such a stark reminder of what the Brexit mood unleashed.

But even that may be dwarfed when the true implications of Donald Trump’s triumph in America come home to roost.

And that triggers the wider question as to what 2017 will bring. Will we discover what Brexit really means? The loss of European markets for our farmers? The collapse of inward investment to Wales by international companies wishing to sell their goods to Europe?

Overseas workers in the NHS, tourism and food-production thinking twice before coming to work in Britain? A dwindling of the number of overseas students studying at Welsh universities?

And who will take the final decision on whether the eventual Brexit package, to be negotiated by Mrs May’s unelected government, is acceptable to the UK electorate?

Will parliament – astoundingly – be by-passed? Will she seek endorsement through a snap election? Or even by a second referendum- to confirm what may become a controversial outcome?

And will the whole European accord, which has delivered peace for the last seventy years, start to disintegrate with more shock outcomes of elections in France, Germany and elsewhere?

Never in my lifetime have things looked so uncertain as a new year beckons. We can but hope – which springs eternal, but may wither most painfully.

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