The Tim Sebastian Memorial Award
Blog post, July 13 2016
Yesterday I was presented with the Tim Sebastian Memorial Award – about two months after it had actually been awarded, but such is the way of things in Glastonbury sometimes. It is awarded for contributions to the community through the written word, and I get to hold it for a year. It was presented to me, on my doorstep (as it happens), by this year’s Chaired Bard of Glastonbury, Sarah Mooney; it was awarded at her Bardic competition and ceremony, under the auspices of the Gorsedh Ynis Witrin. I had no idea that I was being considered for such an honour, and only heard about the award through the grapevine.
Tim Sebastian was a Druid himself, founder of the Secular Order of Druids. In fact he was a gay Druid, and it wasn’t an accident that his Order’s initials spelt SODs. I am not aware of any notable writings that he produced from his own pen, but he was loved and respected by many. He bore a passing resemblance to Ian Botham, especially when dressed in whites, and his Druidic interest in Stonehenge extended to the 18th century practice of holding a summer solstice cricket match at the Stones. He died in 2007.
This annual award is a Bardic one, given for ‘the elevation of the word’. It is intended to recognise the recipient’s work within the community, and was instituted as a way of honouring people who would not be likely to compete for the Chair; I imagine that the judges particularly had in mind my books Free State and The River.
The award manifests as a large cup, or Quaich, which requires single malt whiskey for it to be used properly in ritual circumstances. This one would take half a bottle-full, and would go round a very large circle. I don’t do alcohol myself these days, but I would recommend the old Gaelic practice to those who do. I feel very pleased to be this year’s recipient, and I shall install it in my office so that anyone with an interest in the object, or in my books, can come and have a look.