TALENTED VETERAN: Beth Jones started competing in eisteddfods when she was seven years old.
TALENTED VETERAN: Beth Jones started competing in eisteddfods when she was seven years old. Rowley Mannion

Decades of eisteddfods and still loving it

BETH Jones is an eisteddfod veteran, and at 68 years of age, she's still going strong.

Mrs Jones is a speech and drama teacher in Gladstone, originally from New South Wales.

She has been teaching speech and drama full time for 50 years and privately for 40 years. She lives and breathes the arts.

Mrs Jones's parents were both singers and theatre was a big part of her childhood.

"I started when I was seven years old," she said. "I still remember my poems word for word.

"All the girls learnt to play the piano. It was encouraged I suppose. I love performing."

She took up performing again when she was in her 30s and entered the Gladstone City Eisteddfod in the 1980s after she moved in 1978.

She will be competing in the 2014 Eisteddfod in a number of categories. Being a teacher is Mrs Jones's passion, and she's a natural.

"I fell into teaching. It was either teaching or nursing, and I didn't want to do nursing," she said.

"I used to line up teddies and dolls and tell them what to do. I suppose I've always been a teacher."

The part she enjoys most is the connection between student and teacher when an old poem treasured by Mrs Jones is loved by the child, too.

"Also, seeing a child lacking confidence get up on stage and come off with a big, two-foot smile," she said.

"I once taught a boy who sobbed the whole time, but he got up and did the poem.

"He's now a star performer. That's what it's about."

Being included in her students' family is also something that is fulfilling.

But, Mrs Jones said she isn't getting any younger, having to reduce her teaching time recently.

"This is what I enjoy most but I am getting a bit old for teaching," she said.

"I've gone from 60 (in 2013) to 43 students this year. I've never needed to advertise."

Mrs Jones believes the importance of acting, singing and reciting is second to none.

Children are taught how to win and how to lose.

And the help they receive with public speaking is a tool that is used throughout their whole life.

Gladstone's 44th eisteddfod will run from August 31 until September 26 at the Gladstone Entertainment Centre.



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