Honorary Bards

On its founding, The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids continued the tradition, started by the group out of which it emerged, The Ancient Druid Order, of having an honorary position, known as 'Presider' which represented the Order's links with the literary and artistic world.

In 1998 we changed the position to that of Honorary Bard - in recognition of the contributions poets, musicians, artists and story-tellers are now making to the contemporary cultural scene. Bards have been crowned at one of our Glastonbury Gatherings, held before the Winter and Summer solstices, or on a Mt Haemus Award Day - in the illustrious setting of the Medieval Hall in Salisbury. Here is a list of Bards we have honoured so far.

Robin Williamson - founder in the 60's of the influential Incredible String Band and the Merry Band of the 70's, has been a key figure at the forefront of the storytelling revival in Europe and America since the 80's. He has authored a number of books including The Craneskin Bag (re-telling and re-versifications of Celtic lore) and Celtic Bards, Celtic Druids (co-authored with R.J. Stewart). Website


Mara Freeman - is a teacher of Western esoteric traditions, from the faery realms within the Earth to the regions of the Summer Stars. She is the author of Kindling the Celtic Spirit, and is director of the Avalon Mystery School. Website




Myrdhin - was born in Upper Brittany to a Cornish family, Myrdhin is one of the driving forces behind the rebirth of the Celtic harp in Brittany. He plays solo or with the trio An Delen Dir both in France and abroad since the 1970s. He has received numerous awards and a Grammy nomination in 2000. He has played on many of the AfroCelt albums, and has written music inspired by the story of Taliesin. Website





Damh the Bard - A modern-day Bard whose spirituality, and love of folk tradition, is expressed through his music, storytelling and poetry. Drawing on the Bardic traditions his performances are both entertaining and educational, weaving a tapestry of myth, peace, and anthems that speak directly to the heart, but never without a good splash of humour. Damh is a musical storyteller who works within the world of myth: where the Faerie really do dance on Midsummer's Eve, where the trees talk, and the Hollow Hills take you into the realms of Annwn. Where the Goddess rides her horse, guiding you to magic, and the Horned God of old calls us from the shadows of the Greenwood. On the Summer Solstice 2010 he was made the Pendragon of the Order. Website

Jim Faupel - A hugely talented songwriter, vocalist and guitarist, Jim Faupel is widely respected and admired in the European druidic and bardic community, and released his debut solo album Here Be Dragons (on Stop the World Records) in 2003, and a follow up album, Reinventing the Wheel in 2009. But Jim can also rock out with the best of them! In addition to his solo work, he is also the front-man for Rig Records classic rock artist Sanctuary Rig as well as spending a number of years portraying Rick Parfitt in Staid As Quo, the UK's foremost Status Quo tribute band. More recently Jim has been working under the pseudonym of bluesman 'Poplar Jake'.  Website 

Arthur ZZ Birmingham - Founder member of R Cajun & The Zydeco Bros with a background in folk music, Arthur has gone on to perform extensively as bluesman Z.Z.Birmingham and with his family band - daughter Ursula (Weil Influenz) on fiddle, wife Penny (Carmen Piranha)  harmonies and percussion and son Jake (Elmos Grandez) on bass. Forty years in the business, he's no stranger to TV, National Radio and major festivals. ZZ's  engaging stage presence, compelling vocals and off-the-wall humour make for a truly unique act. Arthur discovered Druidry at OBOD’s first SummerCamp ( 1993 ) and soon gained a reputation as a formidable enabler of others to blossom and shine -  camp, residential event or more formal circumstances; wherever there’s a call for a fund of music, story and song: in ritual, eisteddfod and round the campfire. His accessible style, and versatility insists on the music in every one of us. Website

Liv Torc - A performance poet, writer and comedian who runs cabaret events and poetry workshops across the UK. The winner of the southwest heat of the Radio 4 National Poetry Slam 2009, the 2010 Bard of Exeter, the 2011 Bridport Poet in Residence and a constant and popular figure on the UK spoken word scene. In 2011 Liv appeared on the Wondermentalist Cabaret's pilot Radio 4 series and went on a three-day poetry tour of Munich and Salzburg (March 2011), where she competed in an international slam. Liv is also the author of ‘Take Your Monkey and Get out of My Life’, ‘Dancing Naked in Banana Land’ and 'Lips Akimbo'. Website



Esme Vincent - is a calligrapher whose meticulous and beautiful work includes miniature books, illustrated volumes and many different book styles and illustrations. She was crowned an Honorary Bard of the Order in recognition of her artistry at the Mount Haemus Award day in Salisbury Medieval Hall in 2008



Steve Gladwin (Ardan) - is is a poet, workshop leader, performer, storyteller, musician, confidence builder and teacher based in Meifod, Powys. His novel for young adults, The Seven, is published by the Gomer Press.






Claire Hamilton - Musician, writer and storyteller, Claire Hamilton has recorded many Celtic harp albums. Her books Tales of the Celtic Bards, Celtic Seasonal Meditations, and Maiden, Mother, Crone: Voices of the Goddess are inspired retellings of Celtic myth. Claire’s work has been described by Professor Ronald Hutton as a ‘complete bardic festival.’ Website


Barry Patterson - is a full time bard, house-husband & urban peasant. He has always been inspired by our beautiful, ancient land & its wildlife. Barry started making & playing frame drums like the bodhran in 1990 and joined OBOD in 2002 after having been a guest speaker at a couple of wonderful camps. Some writing & news about his published works & other projects: Website






Eric Maddern - is a storyteller, the author of a dozen children’s books and a singer-songwriter. Born in South Australia, Eric spent years working as a ‘bush artist’ in Aboriginal communities, learning about their notion of ‘songlines’ and ‘the dreaming’. Since living in Snowdonia he’s become familiar with the old tales and mythology of this land. Over this time Eric has also created Cae Mabon, a beautiful eco-retreat centre in Snowdonia, that the Order uses for retreats. Website


Henriëtte de Groot - is an opera singer based in the Netherlands, who performs solo in the fields of opera, art song and
oratorio. For many years she sang at the Dutch Opera House. Her favourite opera roles were as Tatyana in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and as Nedda in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci. Through her music and stories from opera, which still resonate for us today, she tries to touch peoples' hearts. She is currently in the process of producing her debut album, featuring many of her favourite classical songs, and artist friends who accompany her on piano and harp. Websit





Jamie Reid - is an artist, living in Liverpool, with a lifelong interest in Druidry. His great uncle George Watson MacGregor Reid founded the Ancient Druid Order. Jamie has created 'The Eightfold Year' - a set of paintings for every day of the year and you can see these on the site http://www.eightfoldyear.org 

Jamie Reid's longstanding practice as an artist sits firmly within a tradition of English radical dissent that would include, for example, William Blake, Wat Tyler and Gerrard Winstanley. The work of dissent must offer, out of necessity, other social and spiritual models and Reid's practice is no exception.
Although Reid is known primarily for the deployment of Situationist strategies in his iconic work for the Sex Pistols and Suburban Press, the manifold strands of his art both continue that work whilst showing us other ways in which we can mobilise our energy and spirituality. It is this dialectic between gnosticism and dissent that lies at the heart of Reid's practice and makes him one of the great English iconoclastic artists.
Jamie Reid's unique vision articulates and gives form to some of the key issues of our times. He responds to the ever-increasing attacks on our civil liberties and shared common spaces with passionate anger and savage humour, and shows us ways in which we might re-organise our political and spiritual resources. This is the role of the shaman and Reid's art acts like a lightning rod, returning us to the earth so that we might share the work of healing. His gallerist, John Marchant, writes:
"In 1997 I was asked to organise a full scale retrospective of Jamie Reid's work in New York City. I'd never met Jamie before and as we started to get things together it quickly struck me how this was a man of conviction and wisdom, possessing a wide breadth of knowledge that encompassed social politics, esoteric sprirituality, astronomy, free jazz and Fulham FC. It was also immediately clear that this was a man who relished a collaboration - seeing what happened when the rein was loosened. That first exhibition was called Peace Is Tough. Over the years we have met in various parts of the world and Jamie has always charmed me with his modesty, honesty, integrety and talent.
Of course he is notorious for his work with the Sex Pistols in the mid to late-seventies, but there is so much more than this. His work with the Suburban Press was an early coalescing of his political drive and artistic 'nous' and his work after the implosion of the Pistols extended his artistic drive through many genres - music, publishing, performance. His work is a spectrum with many unseen hues and it is our pleasure to journey through these works in presenting and safeguarding the Jamie Reid Archive. After a ten year installation period with the Strongroom Studios in Shoreditch he is now immersed in discovering and revealing the Aspects of the Eightfold Year." Jaimie's website.
Youth, Martin Glover, is an artist, poet, writer, musician and record producer. 
In 2016 he received the Award for Outstanding Contribution to UK Music from the Music Producers Guild, and this is what they said about him:
"One of the UK’s most consistent, credible and influential producers, Youth has been responsible for numerous hits from artists including The Verve, Embrace, Echo and the Bunnymen, Crowded House, The Orb, Sir Paul McCartney and The Charlatans. Among his recent projects was the co-production of Pink Floyd‘s final album, The Endless River. Released in 2014, this quintessential Pink Floyd album sold over 2.5 million copies in its first year. It debuted at No. 1 in the UK and in more than 20 other countries around the world including France, Germany, Canada and New Zealand. Youth also remixed David Gilmour‘s current solo No. 1 album, Rattle That Lock. By honouring Youth with an Outstanding Contribution Award, the Music Producers Guild is recognising an exceptional body of work that spans more than 30 years and has made a significant contribution to the success of the UK music recording industry." 
You can hear an interview with Youth about how he manages to be highly creative himself and how he facilitates other's creativity, and his relationship to Druidry, made during the 2016 OBOD Gathering in Glastonbury, when he received his Honorary Bardship here.
 Simon Emmerson is a musician, record-producer, and founder of the bands The Afro Celt Sound System and Imagined Village. Simon joined his first band, Scritti Pollitti, in the 1970s. Later he was a founding member of Working Week, which toured extensively worldwide, won many European awards, and headlined at the Montreux and Nice Jazz festivals. He has always had a love of African music and started investigating African sounds in the early 80’s when he was also involved with organising some of the Rock Against Racism concerts. In 1991 Simon went to Senegal to produce 3 tracks on Baaba Maal’s Lam Toro album.  This was a life changing experience, Simon felt the connection between African and Celtic music in Senegal, and on returning to the UK, he met up with Irish piper and whistle player, Davy Spillane, to explore these musical links. In 1992, Simon formed Stone Grove with singer Janette Sewell, the art work for the CD was by Jamie Reid, whom Simon had met through his interests in Druidry. Jamie Reid then went on to become a founding member and artist of the Afro Celt Sound System.
In 1995, The first Afro Celt Sound System album was released to great critical acclaim, and over the next 15 years there would be a further 6 albums released on Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records, being one of their top selling artists of all time.  Two of the albums, Release and Further in Time were both Grammy award nominated. In 2007, Simon released the first Imagined Village album on Real World Records. This was an exploration into his English roots and what they mean today.  This album was followed by more and extensive touring of the UK and Europe. After being invited to an Imagined Village gig in Poole via his Dorset bird watching group Simon was headhunted by Mark Constantine (founder of Lush Cosmetics) to work as the Lush musical director composing, directing and producing a variety of music, spa treatments and campaigns within the company.  He has helped write and produce over 8 scores for their ground breaking internationally recognized spa treatments- all available as CDs and 3 currently in vinyl format.  At the end of 2014 Simon directed the first Lush high definition film, The Experimenter that won a BAFTA ASFF  (Aesthetic Short Film Festival) award in November 2015. In that same year Simon got together with N’Faly Kouyate and Johnny Kalsi to make the new Afro Celt Sound System album, The Source, that was released in April 2016 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band. Website (Photo credit Mark A.Bennett).

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