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Features - Dr Gwynfor Evans

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 A Tribute to Dr Gwynfor Evans (1 September 1912 - 21 April 2005)

Dr Gwynfor Evans

The death on 21 April 2005 robbed Wales of the leading Welsh Nationalist of the 20th century and Scotland of a loyal friend. Gwynfor was the longest ever serving President of Plaid Cymuu, 1945 - 1981, and was the first ever Plaid Cymru Westminster MP in 1966. The following tribute to Gwynfor by his friend Dr Winifred M Ewing appeared in the June 2005 issue of The Scots Independent.

                                                          The Father of Wales

Gwynfor Evans was a man for all seasons who lived his life on a bank of principle, committed to peace in the world, dedicated to his country, his family and his friends. Serving as a pacifist all through the war he continued to serve peace in the world.

Always a true friend of Scotland and our fight for freedom, he paid many visits. I first heard him in the packed McLellan Galleries in July 1966. On the next night I shared a platform with him in Aberdeen - my first big rally.

During the 18 months of the Hamilton campaign busloads of Welsh supporters came to knock on doors. When I addressed the Plaid Cymru Conference in July 1967 in Dolgellau I presented Gwynfor with a bowl of white heather telling him, "Before the blooms on this heather fade I will sit beside you in Westminster to speak for Scotland as you do for Wales." The Plaid National Secretary said, "If you make it there will be a 100 Welshmen to see you to the door," and they did.

In many ways our paths were linked. Gwynfor, a student of language, pointed out we had the same name! At the exact moment I was selected for Hamilton, television covered Gwynfor taking his seat in Carmarthen.

His advice was always vital to me. I asked, "What shall we do if they offer us half a loaf? He replied, "We could never explain to the people of Scotland and Wales turning down any improvement in their conditions."

When I said how much I envied the strength of the Welsh language, Gwynfor replied that this was not always an advantage. He said that support for the SNP was not based on language but our shared knowledge of history. He himself did much by his writing to bring a shared history to the Welsh people.

Well I remember the day Meinir, his daughter, was jailed for Welsh language activity. i went with Gwynfor to face a hostile press. His words echo still. "What father would not be proud of such a daughter?"

He was blessed with a happy family of his wife Rhiannon and 7 children and many dear friends surrounded him. I visited him when he was 91 and he said, "I have only 9 years left." Two years later I attended his funeral in Aberystwyth where thousands turned out and the whole town was cut off.

The Welsh people gave the Father of Wales a worthy farewell.

                                                                                                                               Winnie Ewing 

                                                                                                          Scots Independent June 2005

 

A further tribute from Carn – the quarterly magazine of The Celtic League No 130 Summer 2005

Gwynfor EvansGwynfor Evans, former Plaid Cymru President and MP, died on April 21st aged 92. A native of Barri, Glamorgan, he learnt Welsh as a university student and spent most of his life in Llangadog, Carmarthenshire. Gwynfor was a life-long Christian and pacifist. He was associated with Plaid Cymru from its earliest days and became Party President in 1945, a post he held for 36 years. He was a leading campaigner in the unsuccessful attempt to stop the drowning of the Tryweryn valley in Merionnydd to make a reservoir for Liverpool in the 1960s, but in the same decade he permanently changed Welsh politics when he won the Carmarthen by-election in 1966 to become the first ever Plaid Cymru MP. The seat was lost to Labour in 1970 but regained from 1974  until 1979, along with two that have remained Plaid ever since. In 1980, when the government said they were not going to keep their promise to establish a Welsh language television service, Gwynfor’s willingness to fast to the end was the most prominent part of the national campaign to restore the policy of providing the Welsh service and it was probably decisive in the success of the campaign for S4C. The success in turn marked the start of the national recovery after the defeats of 1979 – the devolution referendum and the election by the English of the right-wing Thatcher government. Over 2000 attended the funeral in Aberystwyth including past and present leaders of Plaid, Winnie Ewing of the SNP, and representatives of other parts of the national movement.

 Gwynfor was the President of the Celtic League for the first ten years of its existence and his work helped to secure the League’s recognition.

 A campaign has started, supported by Plaid MPs, for the new politics building under construction at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, to be named the ‘Gwynfor’ Building.
 

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