Welsh champion Tredegar has paid tribute to former Labour MP and respected historian Hywel Francis, whose death has been announced, aged 74.
Hywel Francis was MP for Aberavon from 2001 to 2015 and Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights from 2020 to 2015. He was also a trustee of the Paul Robeson Wales Trust and the Bevan Foundation.
Arts and culture
A renowned historian and peer reviewed author, he was an indefatigable champion of the National Health Service, in making Wales a Compassionate Country and ensuring that working class communities had full access to the arts and culture.
His work in reinvigorating the famous Onllwyn Miners' Welfare Hall — a renowned example of what he called a community 'Palace of Culture', both before and after it was featured in the BAFTA Award winning film 'Pride', also led him to become a fully engaged supporter of the brass band movement.
Working with Tredegar Band he was a driving force in getting the premiere of Tom Davoren's composition 'Legacy' — written to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS, premiered in The Speaker's House in the Houses of Parliament in 2018.
Echoing the ethos of the NHS, the soprano solo was made available as a free download and has since been accessed by over 800 bands and performers.
He also initiated a concert celebrating the Miner's Welfare Organisation in Onllwyn alongside a lecture focused on the early development of the brass band movement in Wales given by Prof Trevor Herbert of the Open University.
In late 2020 he supported Tredegar Band working with Compassionate Cymru Wales to ensure that all patients and residents in Hospital, Care, Residential and Hospices in Wales were able to enjoy free carols and festive music over the Christmas period.
His advice was also sought to enable the Welsh Regional Championships to move to a new venue at Swansea University in 2020.
Working with Tredegar Band he was a driving force in getting the premiere of Tom Davoren's composition 'Legacy' premiered in The Speaker's House in the Houses of Parliament in 20184BR
Integrity and compassion
4BR Editor and Tredegar Band Vice-President Iwan Fox worked closely with him on the projects.
"Prof Francis was a proud socialist and a man of great integrity and compassion.
It was a privilege to be able to work with him in enabling Tom Davoren's commission to be premiered in the heart of Parliament. It was one of the proudest moments in Tredegar Band's history.
It was also fitting that he sought to make Wales a 'Compassionate Country' and he sought to ensure that brass bands were very much a part of that. Our heartfelt thoughts are with his family at this time."