THE YEAR WALES LOST SOME OF ITS FINEST TALENT
W ALES has lost many gifted politicians, sportspeople and broadcasters over the past 12 months. From brave Aberfan primary school teacher Hettie Williams to awardwinning Rhondda Valley writer Frank Vickery, we look back at the lives of those who died in 2018. MIKE HARRIES One of the giants of Welsh music, Mike Harries, died in January aged 85.
The veteran jazz and bluesman, renowned for his bands The Root Doctors, The Mike Harries Jazz Band and Adamant Band, was a staple of the live music scene in South Wales and further afield for more than 50 years. TOY MIC TREV Trevor Rees, who became affectionately known as Toy Mic Trev throughout South Wales, died in July.
The busking legend was well known for his singing on Cardiff’s Queen Street with a children’s toy microphone in his hand.
He was last seen on the street in around 2007, and many people assumed he had already passed away.
But Wales On Sunday discovered Toy Mic Trev was living in Pentre in the Rhondda and he was delighted by the reaction to his story.
The 80-year-old made an emotional return to Queen Street in March.
Trevor’s close friends and neighbours described him as a “gentle soul” and a “lovely, lovely man”. CHARLES BYRD Wales lost one of its oldest and most prolific artists in January when painter and sculptor Charles Byrd died at the age of 101.
Mr Byrd’s paintings and models won national acclaim, and he never lost his passion for his work. LORD CRICKHOWELL Lord Crickhowell, the former Welsh Secretary who championed the regeneration of Cardiff Bay, passed away in March aged 84.
Born Nicholas Edwards, he held the role of Welsh Secretary from 1979 to 1987, having been elected MP for Pembrokeshire in 1970.
He worked for the revitalisation of the Welsh economy and launched the corporation which pushed forward the redevelopment of Cardiff Bay. ALEX BECKETT Carmarthenshire-born actor Alex Beckett died suddenly in April at the age of 36.
Best known for his role as Barney Lumsden in W1A and Twenty Twelve, Beckett was a regular on stage and screen. He also starred in The Scandalous Lady W and The End of the F***ing World, and was about to be seen on the big screen in Mary Queen of Scots opposite Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan.
An inquest later in the year heard that he took his own life hours before he was due on stage. GARETH WILLIAMS Welsh rugby was in mourning in May after the death of five-times capped Bridgend back-rower Gareth Williams at the age of 63.
The Bedlinog-born Lions forward had been bedbound for more than a year, fighting a rare nervous system disorder for which there was no cure.
Multiple System Atrophy causes nerve cells in the brain to deteriorate over time, triggering problems with balance, movement and the autonomic nervous system.
As a player, the 6ft 4in, 15st 6lb forward, who could operate across the back row, appeared five times for Wales between 1980 and 1982, debuting against Graham Mourie’s All Blacks and going head to head with the redoubtable number eight Murray Mexted. FRANK VICKERY The award-winning Rhondda Valley writer rose to fame through his work for theatre, radio and television.
He was the author of more than 30 plays, working with companies including Park and Dare Theatre Company and Sherman Theatre in Cardiff over a career spanning four decades. HELEN GRIFFIN The actress was best known for her roles in Twin Town, Doctor Who and Human Traffic.
Griffin, who was from Swansea, was a familiar face on Welsh and British TV and stage.
Kevin Allen, who directed Twin Town, said she was a “very clever actor” and her passing meant “the Welsh film industry has lost someone very special”.
Jazz and bluesman Mike Harries