THE YEAR WALES LOST SOME OF ITS FINEST TAL­ENT

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - CATHY OWEN Re­porter [email protected]­line.co.uk

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

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