Monday, 16 January 2017

Britain is no country for a Green Prince, Eco-Warrior and Ladybird book writer called Charles Windsor

That is no country for old men..
Caught in that sensual music all neglect 
Monuments of unageing intellect.    
W.B.Yeats 'Sailing to Byzantium'
                                                                ***********************
The 68 year old Charles, Prince of Wales, who visited Somerset in 2014 to see the damage caused by the flood waters, may well have known and sung the children's hymn : 'When a knight won his spurs', when he was a small boy in the 1950s and was doubtless told about his ancestor, King Edward II who became the first 'Prince of Wales' in 1301 and ss a young man he would have been the premier knight of the realm of England.

"When a knight won his spurs, in the stories of old,
He was gentle and brave, he was gallant and bold
With a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand,
For God and for valour he rode through the land.


No charger have I, and no sword by my side,
Yet still to adventure and battle I ride,
Though back into story land giants have fled,
And the knights are no more and the dragons are dead.

Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
'Gainst the dragons of anger, the ogres of greed;
And let me set free with the sword of my youth,
From the castle of darkness, the power of the truth."

As well as the hymn, the young Prince Charles would have also been familiar with Ladybird Books and as he grew older moved away from the 'Peter and Jane' reading books to more serious topics like 'The Story of Metals.'

Now that he is the old Prince Charles he has been given the opportunity to produce the first of a new series from Ladybird Books aimed at explaining complicated subjects to a mass and adult audience and 'the complicated' subject he has chosen is 'Climate Change.' This is not surprising since Charles has been an eco-warrior for a number of years and has said : "Ignore the headless chicken brigade [climate change deniers] and do something practical."


He has co-authored his 52-page, 5,000 book with former Green Party Parliamentary candidate, Tony Juniper and polar scientist, Emily Shuckburgh and in it he claims that there is overwhelming scientific evidence that largely man-made global warming causes catastrophic events, including the recent flooding in parts of Britain and rising global temperatures. His front cover is a flood rescue from the year 2000. Despite the fact that the publishers have said the book had been extensively peer-reviewed by scientists, including the Royal Meteorological Society, his critics have said that he risked being too partisan on the controversial issue when there was still disagreement among experts.


If his motivation is to enlighten, change opinion and generate action, Charles and his fellow eco-warriors have a mountain to climb. Last year official figures indicated that the 'carbon footprint' for the pollution caused by Britain's consumption has not decreased but, on the contrary, increased slightly and the amount of greenhouse gases linked to goods and services consumed by British households, rose by 3% between 2012 and 2013. Admittedly, the figures cover imported and domestically produced goods and services consumed in the Britain, which account for more than half (55%) of the total carbon footprint alongside heating homes and fuelling household vehicles with fossil fuels.

The graph indicates that Britain's greenhouse gas emissions fell significantly between 2007 - 2009, but have plateaued ever since, running above 1,000,000,000 tonnes per annum.

So the Green Prince rides forth, like the good knight of yore, and says to himself :

"still to adventure and battle I ride 
And let me set free with the sword of my youth,
From the castle of darkness, the power of the truth."

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to the Patron Saint of children with asthma and cystic fibrosis, Doctor Archie Norman

That is no country for old men..
Caught in that sensual music all neglect 
Monuments of unageing intellect.    
W.B.Yeats 'Sailing to Byzantium'
                                                                ***********************
Archibald Norman, who has died aged 104, was a pioneer in the treatment of respiratory diseases and in particular, cystic fibrosis, in children at Great Ormond Street Hospital. He enjoyed a career which started after the Second World War, in which he had served in North Africa and returned to Britain after three years as a POW in Poland and a tortuous journey home via the Ukraine.


Archie was born Archibald Percy Norman in the summer of  1912 in the Lancashire textile manufacturing town of Shaw and Crompton, where his father, George, was a GP and his mother, Mary, had been a nurse who originally haled from the Isle of Kerrara in the Inner Hebrides. As the son of a doctor, his would have been an privileged Edwardian background with servants in attendance and for his education, at the age of 11 Archie was packed off to travel the 240 miles south to Charterhouse, the independent boarding school for boys in Goldaming, Surrey As a pupil he was in the same year as David Dane who would become the virologist who first isolated the hepatitis B virus at London's Middlesex Hospital in 1970.


In 1930 he gained a place at Emmanuel College, Cambridge to read 'Medicine and Psychology' and while there, had the distinction of winning a 'Boxing Blue' and did so, in the words of one of his sons : “Rather improbably for the most unpugilistic of men.”

In 1935, in his last year at Cambridge, he trained at the Middlesex Hospital under Alan Moncrieff who was a consultant at both the Middlesex and the
Hospital for Sick Children, St Ormond Street. Archie became a resident physician, living in the hospital and taking weekly whooping-cough clinics for which mothers and children queued around the block. It was Moncrieff who recruited him to Great Ormond Street, where he was a house doctor before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.

In addition, his dedication to care found him working, at some risk to himself in the days before penicillin, in a tuberculosis clinic in West London, where patients were traditionally offered minimal treatment and where he was acting as Assistant Tuberculosis Officer to the Middlesex County Council. Here, many of the patients were trapped in a vicious circle of poverty : suffering from TB contracted in their poverty-stricken accommodation and poor working conditions and condemned to poverty after being sacked to prevent infection. He was a long way away from that privileged home life in the North and student life at Cambridge.

A year after the outbreak of the Second World War, at the age of 28 in 1940, he volunteered to serve in the Army and was assigned as a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps with 4th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, who in 1941 were posted via Cyprus and Palestine to the Western Desert. There, in May and June 1942, they took part in the hard-fought Battle of Gazala which preceded the fall of the garrison town of Tobruk to Rommel’s Panzer Tank Divisions.

The Eighth Army’s 'Gazala Line', defending Tobruk, consisted of a series of defensive boxes, each holding a brigade, laid out across the desert west of Tobruk. Under fierce attack, Archie maintained a dressing station on the reverse slope of the forward 'Knightsbridge Box', named after the Household Cavalry Barracks. He had been wounded by shrapnel, when on June 5, orders came through from his Colonel, before he was killed later in the day, to “get away now
while you can." This proved to be impossible for Archie who, having dispatched a last ambulance of the wounded, found the remaining vehicles ablaze and had no choice but to surrender to the Germans.

Archie was flown to Italy as a POW and put to work in hospitals in Parma and Milan. Later he was transferred to a camp in Upper Silesia in Poland where he ran an X-ray unit, identifying TB in Russian prisoners. After the War he found out that those he had diagnosed with the illness were almost certainly dispatched to one of the death camps in Poland.

In the last months of the War, in the Spring of 1945, he found himself the senior officer of some 150 British and Indian POWs freed by the advancing Red Army, but with no provision for their safety. Archie now led the group which had to scavenge for supplies and fend off bandits as they made their way across Ukraine to Crimea, where they found a British ship bound for Gourock in Scotland.
After the War, on the strength of his men’s testimony to his leadership, Archie was awarded an MBE.

On resuming his medical career, Archie returned to Great Ormond Street and recalled that : “for those of us who had come back from the War, the late Forties, it was an extremely exciting period. So many new advances in medicine ; paediatrics itself had become accepted as a real branch of medicine, and not a junior part; there was the discovery of antibiotics that totally changed our attitude to infectious disease which was of particular importance, of course, to cystic fibrosis; last, but not least, was the advent of the National Health Service in 1948 - we could prescribe drugs without worrying whether the family could afford them, a matter of immense importance in a persistent long-term disease such as cystic fibrosis”

Working again under Alan Moncrieff, he was now able to spread his wings and demonstrate his brilliance as a paediatrician. In 1950 he set up the Hospital’s 'Respiratory Clinic' as a centre for treatment of asthma and cystic fibrosis. The latter, a genetic condition causing severe growth problems and lung disease, had only recently been diagnosed for the first time and had no effective treatments and Archie set to work to develop treatment which involved life-extending multidisciplinary care. With his combination of physiotherapy and diet he began to transform cystic fibrosis from a condition which was inevitably fatal in early life, to one in which a majority of sufferers were given a good chance of living into middle age.

Archie recalled the difficulties he faced in the immediate post-war years as indicated in a week's ration for an adult in 1951 : "The low-fat diet was supposed to be supplemented by a high-protein diet, but as much as one insisted on children having a high-protein diet, it was virtually impossible. These were still the days of rationing; proteins of any sort, and particularly meat, were in short supply and very expensive, and certainly there weren’t many children who received even a normal protein diet by today’s standards." In addition, "the amount of interest and clinical research into cystic fibrosis in this country was infinitely less than in the USA and it is tempting to blame the effects of the War for this."

On the other hand he conceded that : "Physiotherapy, I think was really pioneered in this country, rather than in the USA, with postural drainage and chest tapping. Surprisingly these very primitive measures did decrease early mortality and at least temporarily improved the outlook for the older and therefore less severely affected child."

Archie was at the forefront of research into cystic fibrosis in Britain and in 1950 he and Cedric Carter (left) joined Martin Bodian, Great Ormond Street's Morbid Anatomist to collaborate on his book 'Fibrocystic Disease of the Pancreas', which was published in 1952 and within which Cedric established for the first time that cystic fibrosis was a disease caused by a recessive gene.

He modestly recalled that : "I had a fairly large number of children with cystic fibrosis and developed a team of dietitians, physiotherapists and social workers, who saw each family every time they attended." He noted that : "not a great deal of interest was shown in cystic fibrosis in this country, and there was certainly a tendency to believe that it did not occur at all in certain regions." He also noted that : "From the beginning we got the impression that the children with cystic fibrosis were exceptional in the way in which they overcame their difficulties, in their determination and in their intelligence."

In 1953, at the age of 41, running parallel to his career at Great Ormond Street, he was appointed Consultant Paediatrician at Queen Charlotte’s Maternity Hospital, where he worked with newly born, including rhesus babies in need of life-saving blood transfusions.

Archie realised that parents of children with cystic fibrosis had too little support and in 1964, he played a major role in founding the 'Cystic Fibrosis Trust' as a national charity 'To fund medical and scientific research into effective treatments and the development of a cure for cystic fibrosis' but also 'To provide information, advice, support and, where appropriate, financial assistance to anyone affected by cystic fibrosis.'

He was caught on camera with the other Great Ormond Street Hospital Team, sitting second from the left next to the bespectacled Sir Alan Moncrieff.

In 1969 through his consultancy at Queen Charlotte's Hospital he was responsible for the care of Britain’s first quintuplets, born to Irene Hanson in 1969, with the help of the team led by George Wynn-Williams, the Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. The birth made headline news and Archie was photographed with the staff, in a group photo. The tiny Hanson girls did survive and are believed to be only the second set of all-girl quintuplets to do so.


Archie retired from the National Health Service in 1972, but continued his research work and private practice and in 1974 working with A.R. Chrispin from the Department of Diagnostic Radiology, he devised measures to track deterioration and treatment response in children with cystic fibrosis in what became known as the 'Crispin-Norman Score.' It is based on the systematic analysis of radiological scans and they created created uniform terms, describing 5 radiographic characteristics. Evaluation is based on the division of the chest X-ray into 4 zones and on the classification of images into 3 categories depending on the presence and severity of alterations.

He became Chairman of the Research Committee of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust in 1978 and served until 1984 and in 1985, he was also instrumental in seeing the conversion of Great Ormond Street’s former long-term care facility at Tadworth in Surrey into the 'Children’s Trust Centre for Respite Care and Rehabilitation' of brain-damaged children and had one of its buildings is named after him. in a ceremony attended by himself and Elaine Paige, first lady of musical theatre and Trust Ambassador.


In the year 2000 at the age of 88 at a seminar at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, entitled 'Childhood Asthma and Beyond' he lightened the proceedings when he said :

"I just happen to remember I recommended that a dog should be taken away from the house because an asthmatic child appeared to be sensitive to the dog. The family came back to see me a month later and said that they had had a burglary the next day."

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Britain is a country with an artist called Chris Barker who paid homage to the celebrity old men it lost in 2016

Graphic designer, Chris Barker has created a collage, using the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover, designed to pay homage to the passing of celebrities the world lost in 2016. His creation included images of 17 famous old Brits, who collectively lived for over 1,300 years.
Chris, who has donated his image, without profit, to the world, has asked that those who see his work, consider donating to a charity of their choice or the 'Jo Cox Memorial Fund', which honours the British MP who was murdered before the Brexit vote in 2016 by a man with white-supremacist ties.
https://www.gofundme.com/jocox

Davis Bowie               : 69 : Musician. Actor
Ronnie Corbett           : 85 : Comedian
Paul Daniels               : 77 : Magician. TV personality
Keith Emerson            : 71 : Part of the band 'Emerson, Lake and Palmer'
Lenny Kilmister           : 70 : Musician. Front man for Motorhead
Greg Lake                   : 69 : Musician. 'Member of Emerson, Lake and Palmer'
George Martin             : 90 : Music producer
Howard Marks             : 70 : Former drugs smuggler and author
Ian McCaskill               : 78 : TV weatherman
Cliff Michelmore           : 96 : TV presenter and producer
Alan Rickman              : 68 : Stage and film actor
Andrew Sachs             : 86 : TV and radio actor and narrator
Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart   : 74 : Radio DJ
Gareth Thomas           : 71 : Welsh Actor. 'Blake's Seven
Peter Vaughan             : 93 : TV, film and stage actor
Terry Wogan                : 77 : TV and radio presenter
Jimmy Young               : 96 : DJ. BBC Radio presenter

Friday, 6 January 2017

Britain is a country and no country for an old sufferer of motor neuron disease called Noel Conway because it refuses him the right to die

Noel Conway is a 67 year old retired college lecturer who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a form of motor neurone disease and says he fears becoming "entombed" in his body as his muscles gradually weaken. He wants a doctor to be able to prescribe a lethal dose when his health deteriorates. The problem is that Members of Parliament rejected the last attempt to introduce 'Assisted Dying' in England and Wales in 2015, so he has taken his case to the High Court to challenge to the existing law. His will also be the first such case since 'Right-to-Die' campaigners lost their appeal before the Supreme Court in 2014.

Noel is being backed in his legal bid by the campaign group, 'Dignity in Dying' and its Chief Executive, Sarah Wootton, has said : "Noel's experience sadly echoes that of hundreds of other terminally ill people in this country - choice and control at the end of life is something that everyone should be able to have."

Backing the retention of the status quo, the disability rights campaigner, Baroness Campbell, said the current law, the 1961 Suicide Act, was already compassionate and changing it would be "highly dangerous. Disabled people want to be valued by society and would see any legal change as a real threat."

Noel has been given a life expectancy of less than 12 months. He used to enjoy physical activity, climbing, skiing, walking and cycling, but at the moment is dependent on a ventilator overnight, requires a wheelchair and needs help to dress, eat and with personal care. His fear is that he will reach a stage where he is entombed in his own body as his ability to move gradually reduces which he says "would be unimaginable."

Noel has signed up with Swiss suicide group, 'Dignitas', but is concerned that when he is ready to die he might be too ill to travel. He said: "I want to live and die in my own country. The current law here condemns people like me to unimaginable suffering - I'm heading on a slow, slippery slope to hell."

In order to convince his country that he should be assisted in his suicide he is seeking a judicial review of the 1961 Suicide Act, which makes it a criminal offence punishable by up to 14 years in prison for anyone in Britain to assist in a suicide in Britain. Noel's lawyers will seek a declaration that this is not compatible with the 'Human Rights Act 1998', which confirms that individuals should have respect for a private and family life.

Noel's case, which is expected to be heard at the High Court within a few months, will reopen a debate which has impassioned voices on both sides. In opposition to him and his lawyers is Baroness Campbell, who has spinal muscular atrophy and founded the organisation 'Not Dead Yet.' She uses a powered wheelchair, is fed through a tube and can now move only two of her fingers but thinks that : "If the law was changed it would feed into society's fear that being very disabled like me is a state worse than death. We already have to fight to live; a right to die would be a huge and frightening burden."

Supporting Noel's case, Sarah Wootton said that the Government had "ignored the pleas of terminally ill people" and "Britain was being left behind". She refers to the fact that Canada, California and Colorado all introduced assisted dying in 2016 and later this year the Government in Victoria, Australia, plans to introduce legislation to allow doctors to help the terminally ill to die. Noel himself has said : "Other countries have shown that assisted dying can work. It's been happening in Oregon for 20 years. I want to ensure that terminally ill people like me don't have to suffer, and have a choice about their death."

He is not in any pain at present, but Noel fears what would happen in his final weeks and that he might die by suffocation or choking. He said : "I have a right to determine how and when I die and I want to do so when I have a degree of dignity remaining to me." 

At the moment the law in Britain disagrees with Noel and he remains condemned to his "slow, slippery slope to hell."

 Noel speaks for himself : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FepZjuvzHC4

and has tweeted : 

'Great blog John but remember change in the law is needed for everyone not just the old'
https://twitter.com/noel_conway

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Britain is a country and Wales a nation which say "Goodbye" to an old athlete called Bernard Baldwin, who gave a town called Mountain Ash its 'Nos Galan Road Race'

That is no country for old men..
Caught in that sensual music all neglect 
Monuments of unageing intellect.    
W.B.Yeats 'Sailing to Byzantium'
                                                                ***********************
Only a few days ago, the 2016 Nos Galan Road Race's were an enormous success https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fz5-jqH8L8w&t=0mo8s
1,600 runners of all ages and abilities registered to take part in the 'Childrens’ Races', 'Elite Race' and '5000 Adult Fun Run' with the role of 'Mystery Runner' being played by Wales’ Football Manager Chris Coleman. The competitors were taking part in one of the top 500 races in the world, alongside the New York, Boston and London Marathons and would not have been there had it not been for the efforts, 58 years ago, of a remarkable secondary school P.E. teacher called Bernard Baldwin who has died at the age of 91.

Bernard was born in Barry, the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales, one of seven children, in 1925, An accomplished athlete by the time he was in his teens, he won the Welsh Junior Men's Mile Title in his last year at school in 1943 emulating. his brother, Bramwell, who had won in 1937. In the same year, the fourth year of the Second World War, he was enlisted as a trainee air gunner and served in artillery until he was demobbed in 1945.

He then studied for three years at Caerleon Teacher Training College and, while a student, gained a Senior Welsh Cross Country Vest representing Wales at the International Cross Country Championships held at the Hippodrome de Saint-Cloud in France when he was 22 in 1947. He also demonstrated his prowess on the football field, playing in the Welsh League teams : Tynte Rovers, Abercynon and Penrhiwceiber. His skills as an administrator were utilised when he became Secretary of the Welsh Amateur Association at the age of 24 in 1949.

Having qualified as a teacher he took his first job at Tintern Village School in the Wye Valley, Monmouthshire, before his appointment as P.E., Games and Music teacher at Mill Street Secondary Modern School in Pontypridd and took up residence in the mining village of Mountain Ash in the Borough of Rhondda Cynon at the age of 25 in 1950. It was in his first the School assembly that Bernard was introduced to the pupils by the Headmaster, as a "new teacher and accomplished athlete."  At break-time on the same day, one of the pupils told him about the local, legendary runner, Guto Nyth Brân, who was buried at St Gwynno’s Church, Llanwonno.


He subsequently learned that the runner in question was Griffith Morgan who was born in 1700 at Llwyncelyn, in an old farmhouse of 'Nyth Brân', the 'Crows' or 'Raven’s Nest', where his father ran a sheep farm and was given the Welsh nickname, 'Guto' for 'Griffith' and became 'Guto Nyth Brân.'

Brian would have learnt the tales of Guto being fleet of foot and how he would pace himself against the fastest hares and foxes, would run with the local Llanwynno hunt and had no difficulty in keeping up over moors and mountains with the hounds and would catch the fox by its tail, long before the hounds came into sight. How his fame spread and when he was in his late thirties he was challenged to a race, with wagers, by a man called 'Prince' on a route from Newport to Bedwas Church, a distance of some twelve miles. He won the race, but when his trainer and manager, 'Siân from the Shop', slapped him on the back in congratulation, he had a heart attack and died in her arms. No doubt Bernard visited the spot where he expired, marked by a large gravestone erected in 1866, over 100 years after his death.

Bernard was ten years into his teaching and 31 years old when the idea of organising a road race, open to all, starting in one year and finishing in the next came emerged from his conversation with Ken Norris. Ken crossed the line for the G.B. team in the 1955 International Cross Country Race in France : http://www.britishpathe.com/video/ken-norris-triumph and was the 1956 National 'Cross Country Champion' and legend of the 'Thames Valley Harriers' who had won the iconic 'Sao Paulo Midnight Race' in Brazil in the same year. Bernard first met Ken and fell into conversation with him at Merthyr AC’s Annual Dinner, where Ken had been the guest speaker. It was to mark the beginning of a lifelong friendship, but more importantly, their talk over dinner sowed the germ of the idea of what would become Bernard's 'Mountain Ash Midnight Race'

In the summer of 1958, Bernard acted as Press Officer at the 'Empire and Commonwealth Games' held at Cardiff. The legend of Guto hadn't left Bernard and that autumn he put the finishing touches to the plans for what would be the first  'Nos Galan' or 'New Year's Eve' Road Race in Mountain Ash.

He planned two events, the first was the 100 yards dash on the main street of Mountain Ash and his competitors list read like a 'who’s who' of British athletics and bore testimony to respect with which he was held as much as his powers of persuasion. The event was won by Peter Radford (left), just a year before he gained his Olympic bronze 100m medal in Rome, with British team-mate Dave Segal in second place https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHefQLpcgS4 and local star Ron Jones (right), third.

Then everything was ready for the four mile 'Midnight Race' with 101 runners getting underway at precisely 11.46pm and, literally, running into the New Year. Tom Richards, 1948 Olympic Marathon Silver Medallist, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62W4s0MpETc&t=3m39s was to be the first-ever Nos Galan 'Mystery Runner', the person who represented the spirit of Guto Nyth Brân, who, after a church service at Llanwynno, lay a wreath on the grave of Guto, then lit and carried a torch the 4 miles to Mountain Ash and the start of the races.


That first Midnight Race was won by Stan Eldon, then, Britain’s leading distance star, with fellow British international runner, Frank Salvat, second with John Merriman, winner of the silver medal over 6 miles in the Empire Games held earlier in the year, finishing fifth. In fact, Bernard managed to entice Peter and Dave to also run in the race with Dave finishing 82nd with Bernard commenting on the following day that Peter Radford was "still out on the course somewhere." His friend Ken Norris also ran and finished 10th.


In 1961 Eddie Strong won the Midnight Race and Bernard produced the programme for the day :


In 1965 Stan Eldon (left), played the role of 'Mystery Runner' and carried the burning torch with the  Mayor and other dignitaries looking on : http://www.britishpathe.com/video/1965s-on-the-run-aka-new-year-race/query/Stan :


In subsequent years the role 'Mystery Runner' was played by many all-times greats of the sport : Derek Ibbotson, Lillian Board, Lynn Davies, Ann Packer, David Hemery, David Bedford, Steve Jones and in 2011 British Lion and Wales Rugby legend, Shane Williams (right) with Bernard and accompanied by Wales and Ospeys team mate, Ian Evans.

The participation of Olympic champion and world record-holder, Mary Rand, who was more used to running in events no further than 400m and was enticed by Bernard to brave the elements at midnight in a South Wales mining town and run four miles carrying aloft a very heavy lighted torch was once again, testimony to his powers of persuasion.

Bernard now spread his wings and organised similar road races in other South Wales valleys. A mile event, in nearby Penrhiwceiber, was added in 1959 and was won by former world record-holder Derek Ibbotson. But the undoubted star of the event was the European indoor 1500m champion and double Olympic finalist, John Whetton, who won for seven successive years between 1962 and 1968. The 'Taff Street Dash' in Pontypridd was also started in 1959, 'Wattstown' in 1961, the 'Easter Monday Meeting at Pencoed' in 1963 - sadly, none of which exist today.

Peter Radford won that first 'Taff Street Dash' over 250 yards from Dave Segal and Wynne Oliver and at the after-race function at the New Inn Hotel, which also doubled up as the Annual Dinner of the Road Runners Club of Wales, Bernard regaled and entertained the party with anecdotes about, almost each, of the 300 guests.

When he recalled the 'Taff Street Dash', J.J. Williams, winner of four Welsh sprint titles and a Welsh rugby icon who won as a schoolboy in 1965 and also in 1971 said : "The atmosphere created was tremendous and all of the leading sprinters at the time wanted to take part."  But added : “If you got drawn in one of the outside lanes, you were in the gutter, and didn’t stand a chance of winning!”

One of Bernard’s most popular events among distance runners was the 'Cardiff to Mountain Ash Two-man Relay' which combined running and motoring, started in 1964, it was terminated in 1968. when it ran foul of  traffic regulations. His 51 mile 'Cardiff to Swansea Two Man Relay' lasted just three years with Welsh CCA Secretary, John Collins, who was in the winning team each year, recalling that one team used a hatchback for speed and convenience while another used a van with the back doors removed.

After 11 years and after the future 1973, 10,000m world record-holder, David Bedford, won the Nos Galan Four Miles Race in 1969, Bernard had enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing every runner of note in Britain, as well as stars from abroad, take part in his race. In 1971 David ran again (left) and Bernard's contribution to sport in general was officially recognised when, at the age of 46, he was presented with the MBE by The Queen at Buckingham Palace for his 'Services to British Athletics.'

Two years later, Bernard's 'Nos Galan Organisation' ventured over the border into England to Bristol when it promoted a 20 miles race on the new track at Whitchurch, which saw the future 1974 Rome European marathon fourth-placer, Bernie Plain, set a 'UK  Allcomers’ Best' record. This was the year, 1973, when, due to health and safety reasons, his Nos Gallan races came to an end. It would be 11 years before he saw them return in triumph as ‘Nos Galan Reborn’ in 1984. It was an event with three Mystery Runners - David Bedford, Steve Jones and Lisa Hopkins, representing the Past, Present and Future.

Past Mystery Runners gathered at the  grave of Guto from left to right : Berwyn Price (1973), Kirsty Wade (1986), Derek Ibbotson (1960), Ron Jones (1967), John Merriman (1961) and Stan Eldon (1964)

Bernard was busy with his pen over the years with publications focused on Welsh athletics. He was Welsh correspondent to 'Athletics Weekly' for 22 years, wrote articles on athletics to the Western Mail, South Wales Echo, South Wales Argus and Sunday Express and was a regular broadcaster on BBC Wales. He also went on to be a leading light in 'Welsh Athletics' working as Secretary of its Governing Body.

Eventually, when he retired as race organiser, he handed the reins of Nos Galan over to Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and the Nos Galan Committee, which promptly appointed him as 'Honorary President of the Nos Galan Road Races' at the age of 81 in 2006. Eight years later the Council granted him its greatest honour when he was granted 'Freedom of the County Borough' in a ceremony attended David Bedford, Olympic fourth-placer and Tony Simmons, European 10,000m silver medallist.

Former British sprint relay world record-holder, Ron Jones, born only a mile or so from Mountain Ash and always a supporter of Bernard's events has said : “I have great admiration for Bernard – he brought athletics to people who would not normally watch our sport.”

In recent years and with Bernard's approval, Nos Galan has been rescheduled to embrace family entertainment, finishing at around 9pm. The changed format means that the day now starts with an afternoon of street entertainment and fun runs for children and this seems entirely appropriate in view of his lifelong commitment to convey the joy of athletics to as many people as possible.

David Bedford, who once his field days were over went on to become the Race Director of the London Marathan said : “Bernard was a huge inspiration for me when it came to my own personal athletics achievements and also my creation of the London Marathon.”

Over half a century ago In the December 10th 1961 edition of 'Athletics Weekly' Bernard had written : 'The first Inter-County Championships were held at Duffryn High School, Newport. High Winds and driving rain almost brought organisation to a standstill, but all the competitors and a handful of officials braved it out. Reports afterwards indicated that course markings were sometimes indistinct, but the results were scarcely affected, and there were some fine racing.'  

There he was on that bleak winter's day 55 years ago, indomitably facing the elements and communicating his support and enthusiasm for athletics to the youngsters. As Pauline Jarman, local government Councillor for Mountain Ash East, has said :

"Bernard was a man of great energy, commitment and determination. He was Mr Nos Galan - of that there can be no doubt."
                  Bernard with Linford Christie at the races in 2014