Eryri stone waller is following Clinton and Gorbachev onto global stage

Sean Adcock is an acknowledged expert on the art of dry stone walling
Sean Adcock is an acknowledged expert on the art of dry stone walling -Credit:Andrew Forgrave/North Wales Live

A humble stone waller from North Wales has been invited to address world leaders at an international peace fourm in South Korea. When Sean Adcock takes to the stage in late May, he will be following in the footsteps of previous speakers like former US president Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev, last leader of the old Soviet Union.

The annual Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity attracts up to 6,000 delegates and seeks “creative solutions through international cooperation”. This year’s theme is “Acting Together for a Better World”.

It will be quite a change of scene for Sean, a former conservationist from Penisarwaen who developed a career repairing stone walls on farms in Gwynedd. “Earlier this year I spoke to a group of around 50 University of the Third Age members in Porthmadog,” he said.

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“I also addressed 15 people at Pensychnant Conservation Centre. So this event is a bit of a step up! It’s quite daunting but it’s a huge honour and a chance to promote the craft and area I love.”

Usually there are 300-350 speakers at the Jeju Forum, mostly academics from think tanks, along with diplomats and politicians. Only a handful are ever from Britain. North Wales Live has a WhatsApp community group where you can get the latest stories delivered straight to your phone

It’s not known if Wales has ever provided a speaker as the forum doesn’t keep records. If Sean is not the first Welsh invitee, his participation is certainly a rarity, especially as he has a practical rather than academic background. Heun Pil Jang of the Forum Secretariat described Sean’s involvement as “very special indeed”.

He was invited to speak at the forum by South Korea’s Jeju Stone Park, which is hosting a session called “Building Peace on Stone Walls”. The idea is to use stones as a “medium for promoting co-operation, solidarity and peace”. Sean will be looking at how dry stone structures share similarities in cultures around the world.

As an author of of dry stone walls guides, with his his own “Stonechat” magazine, he’s no stranger to addressing specialist festivals and conferences. Speaking alongside him in South Korea will be a stonemason from Jeju and a stone carver from Ireland. Sign up for the North Wales Live newsletter sent twice daily to your inbox

He's looking forward to speaking about his work in Eryri and beyond. “Somehow I’ll manage to shoehorn my two favourite topics into my talk somewhere,” he said. “Cloddiau, the stone-faced earth banks of Wales, and the dry stone structures of the Welsh slate industry.”

It’s been quite a few weeks for Sean, who is acknowledged as one of the UK’s foremost exponents of dry stone walling. On April 19 he received the British Empire Medal at a ceremony at Caernarfon Castle, and next week he will be at Buckingham Palace for a Royal garden party associated with that award.

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