Skip to main content


11th November 2016

Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias music centre in Caernarfon received a huge surprise when a National Lottery player revealed their application for funding had been successful.

The organisation was presented with a cheque for £7,000 as part of The National Lottery’s ‘Thank You Wales’ campaign. The campaign allows players to find out more about the projects that benefit when they buy a ticket.

Bernii Owen, 22 from Llanfairpwll, who has been a keen National Lottery player since she became eligible to play six years ago, spent a day with harpist Elinor Bennett finding out more about the organisation and how it supports people with a love of music, including those with learning disabilities and dementia.

Elinor explained how the funding will help the centre purchase new instruments, upgrade its facilities and improve its teaching provision to people of all ages from across the area.

Internationally renowned harpist Elinor Bennett co-founded Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias and still teaches there. She said:

“This National Lottery funding from the Arts Council of Wales will be hugely beneficial to our organisation. Whether young or old, music can play a significant role in people’s lives, whether it helps them to express themselves creatively, communicate with others, develop a talent, form friendships, provide them with escapism or improve their mental well-being, it can provide a huge number of benefits.

“The funding will enable us to not only invest in more equipment but also hold more classes across north east Wales, where we now also have a branch and reach out to more communities, particularly Communities First areas. It will also help us to develop the classes we currently offer to young children as well as enabling us to grow our Hidden Talent and music memories programmes - which are dedicated to helping provide people living with learning disabilities and dementia with a way of communicating with others.”

Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias has received a range of Lottery grants with a total value of £423,544 while Galeri Caernarfon, where the centre is based, has had over £4.1 million of funding.

Bernii Owen, who works as a supervisor at Wal restaurant in Caernarfon said: “It’s great to discover more about a local organisation that is benefitting from National Lottery funds, and also to be part of such a big surprise.

“It’s not every day you get to hand over a cheque to an organisation knowing that the money is going to help make a difference to the lives of so many people.

“It was really exciting handing the envelope over to Elinor and waiting for her to absorb the content. She was so grateful and overwhelmed to receive the funding. There were so many smiles and hugs – it was overwhelming.

“When you buy a ticket you usually think about the money up for grabs, but I’ve never really thought too much about the fact that some of my ticket money goes to such deserving local organisations like Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias.

“It’s been a great experience to be involved in the campaign, and I’m sure the other National Lottery players have had an equally rewarding experience when visiting other projects across Wales. I’ll definitely be spreading the word about where the money goes from now on, especially after seeing the impact it has first-hand, and how many people benefit as a result.”

Jackie O’Sullivan, Director of National Lottery Good Causes, said:

“National Lottery players have raised a massive £1.6 billion to fund projects right across Wales. The ‘Thank you Wales’ campaign is thanking lottery players, without whom none of this would have been possible. We want to make National Lottery players aware of the thousands of fantastic projects across Wales that would never get off the ground if it weren’t for their money.”

Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias, established in 1999, is located at Galeri, Caernarfon. Individual musical training is offered from beginner to professional level. Currently, more than 350 students from 5 to 80+ years old attend individual lessons regularly provided by a team of 40 tutors at the Centre in Caernarfon and at its Denbigh branch.

The Centre also provides other music opportunities including the following:

• 'Music Steps' for children 0-7 years of age
• 'Hidden Talents' for children and adults with learning disabilities
• Choir and chamber ensembles for youth
• Adult Choir during the day
• theory and composition classes
• Concerts and various music festivals
• Workshops and master classes by leading musicians
• Sessions in homes for the elderly

The grant will fund the replacement and improvement of the Centre’s stock of musical instruments and associated equipment (such as stools) as well as providing a laptop for video editing and other purposes.

Watch the video of Bernii surprising Elinor here –


Notes to editors

Notes to editors:

About National Lottery Good Causes

  • Since The National Lottery began in 1994, players have raised over £1.6 billion for over 46,000 projects in Wales, impacting on all aspects of Welsh life
  • National Lottery players raise around £36 million a week for projects across the UK.
  • The money is awarded by organisations with specialist knowledge of their sectors.
  • The UK’s National Lottery gives one of the highest percentages of lottery revenue back to society in the world.
  • The Arts Council of Wales awarded the Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias grant, while Big Lottery Fund, Sport Wales, and Heritage Lottery Fund also distribute National Lottery funding in Wales, The British Film Institute (BFI) supports film in Wales, and UK Sport supports Welsh elite athletes.

About Arts Council Wales

  • Arts Council of Wales is an independent charity, established by Royal Charter in 1994. Its members are appointed by the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure.
  • Arts Council of Wales is the country’s funding and development organisation for the arts.
  • The vision of the organisation is of a creative Wales where the arts are central to the life and wellbeing of the nation.
  • Arts Council of Wales awards money from The National Lottery, as well as Welsh Government funds to nurture and develop high quality Welsh arts activity. As well as providing this monetary support they also provide advice about the arts, encourage the sharing of information and learning between both arts and non-arts organisations, raise the profile of the arts in Wales by promoting a variety of projects and initiatives, help to generate more money for the Welsh economy through art, influence planners and decision-makers to ensure that art and artistic buildings feature in the Welsh landscape, develop opportunities for Welsh artists to reach international audiences with their work and promote small scale performances and art projects in local communities.
  • Their job is to ensure that the contribution of the arts is recognised, valued and celebrated, so the grants they make enable artists and arts organisations in Wales to deliver projects which contribute to these goals.

To find out more about the Arts Council of Wales visit their website

About Canolfan Gerdd William Matthias

  • Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias (CGWM), based in Caernarfon, was established in 1999 by a group of musicians and music enthusiasts in the north Wales area following early discussions dating from 1995.
  • A registered company limited by guarantee, CGWM has charitable status and is managed by a Board of Trustee-Directors.
  • During its early years, the two main aims of the Company were to improve access to music education and performances and provide freelance work for musician
  • From 1999, CGWM’s base was a large house in Church St, Caernarfon. The principal activities at this stage were tutorials given by a small team of music tutors as well as workshops and occasional performances held at nearby venues.
  • Over the years, CGWM’s activities have developed and grown and currently a team of 44 freelance tutors offer individual and group tuition to over 450 people (aged from 6months to 80+ years of age) weekly at its Centres in Caernarfon and Denbigh
  • For many people in the area, a weekly visit to CGWM for music lessons has become an important part of their lives, proving the need for services provided to local residents.

For more information visit