John Gwynfryn Morgan, OBE
(ABGS 1945 - 1952)

Gwyn in 1970

Gwyn in 1970

Gwyn Morgan was born in Cwmdare on 16 February 1934, the son of Arthur G. Morgan, a coal miner, and Mary, née Walters. He was christened in Bethel, Tudor Terrace, his mother’s chapel but as a boy attended St Luke’s, Cwmdare, where he also sang in the choir. His father was a keen cricketer and in his teens Gwyn also became a most talented player of the game. He gained a cap for the Welsh Secondary Schools XI and also turned out for the Glamorgan 2nd XI scoring, in one of his best innings, 67 not out against Gloucestershire at Maindy Stadium.

Gwyn attended the Cwmdare primary school and took "the scholarship" exam there in 1945. At this time rank order results of this exam were published in the local newspaper - Gwyn came top in the Cynon Valley. He transferred to the grammar school in Trecynon in the days immediately after the war, and has written about his experiences there in an article that can be seen in both the School 75th anniversary and Centenary booklets*. In the sixth form he took English, Latin and French and sat the GCE Advanced Level examination when this new exam system had just taken over from CWB Higher School Certificate. His career at school culminated with the award of one of the two State Scholarships awarded that year.

Gwyn went to Aber where he graduated in Classics. He continued there to complete an MA (1957) and a DipEd (1958). Whilst at Aber he played cricket for the college 1st XI but also became President of the Student Representative Council, a forerunner of the Student Union. Gwyn’s first job (1958-60) was as classics master at The Regis School, Tettenhall, Staffs, one of the first comprehensive schools to be built in Staffordshire. From 1960 onwards his career flourished and his posts were many. They are listed below:

  • 1960 - 62 President of the National Union of Students
  • 1962- 65 Secretary General International Student Conference based in the Netherlands
  • 1965 - 69 Head of Overseas Department, British Labour Party
  • 1969 - 72 Assistant General Secretary, British Labour Party
  • 1973 - 75 Chef de Cabinet to Rt Hon George Thomson, EC Commissioner
  • 1975 - 79 Head of the Welsh Information Office of the EEC, Cardiff
  • 1979 - 83 Head of the EEC Press and Information Office in Ottawa
  • 1983 - 86 EEC Representative in Turkey
  • 1987 - 92 Head of the EEC Delegation in Israel, West Bank and Gaza
  • 1993 - 95 Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar & Malaysia
  • 1995 - 99 Head, SE Asia Division EC, Brussels
  • 1999 Retirement. OBE awarded

As president of the NUS, Gwyn led its delegation to the Robbins Committee on Higher Education, which later in the seventies, was responsible for the major expansion of student numbers in HE. Whilst at the Overseas Department of the Labour Party, Gwyn worked with George Brown, the Foreign Secretary, on the UK’s reapplication to join the EEC. Later in Brussels, he was active in establishing the UK presence in the EEC after it had successfully joined; in addition he was involved in the discussions that preceded the setting up of the European Regional Development Fund. On two of his overseas appointments Gwyn was involved in controversies: in Turkey, he backed the rights of trade unionists in defiance of the Turkish Government; in the Middle East, he supported the claims of the Palestinians, which also made him unpopular.

In addition to these posts he was a member of the Hansard Committee on Electoral Reform 1975-76 and a Director of the Development Corporation for Wales, 1976-81. He also headed two EU Election Observation Units: Indonesia 1999, and Ivory Coast 2000.

Alvin at school

Gwyn in 1949
at Hirwaun Welfare Ground
from a cricket team photo

Gwyn maintained his contact with Aberdare and with the school: he was a guest speaker at the school’s centenary celebrations in 1996 at the Sobell Centre; guest speaker at the Distribution of Certificates Ceremony in 1976, when the certificates were presented by his sister Mrs Moira Bound; and contributed an article about his schooldays to the 75th anniversary booklet. In his retirement Gwyn enjoyed the company of the late Dai Owen of Abernant, together they went to the Scarborough Cricket Festival, which takes place at the end of the season each year. They had a high old time together, according to Dai. An anecdote, perhaps apocryphal, that a guest of Gwyn relates is worth repeating: "The founder of the EEC was Jean Monnet. His family were brandy producers. He also had a middle name Gabriel. One Christmas he sent a case of brandy to Gwyn Morgan. The bottles carried the family crest and the initials JGM molded into the glass. I heard Gwyn say once, ‘Forget your personalised car number plates. I have my initials on my brandy!’"

Gwyn was a Vice-President of London Welsh RFC and a member of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, MCC and Reform.

He was married three times and was the father of 4 children by two of his wives. He is survived by a partner Françoise, his brother Rhidian and his brother-in-law, Russell Bound. Gwyn lived in Chiswick where he died on April 21st, 2010. His funeral took place on Friday, April 30th at St Fagan’s Church, Trecynon.

* both are in the History Section of this website.

Many thanks to John Samuel for making the photographs available.
An appreciation of Gwyn by his friend Hywel Ceri Jones can be found on the Aberystwyth University Alumni website.

There have been obituaries for Gwyn in national newspapers and currently (15/05/2010) are available online:
The Times published on May 7th, 2010, available here (Articles from The Times are no longer available without a subscription.)
The Guardian published on May 13th, 2010, available here
The Independent published on May 15th, 2010, available here.