Meredydd passed away on 9th March 2010, aged 87. The Memorial Service was held at Trinity Church, Chelmsford on 31st March. This account was prepared by his friend and colleague of many years, John L. Davies (Year of ’52).
It was with considerable sadness and even more pride that I attended Meredydd’s funeral last March on behalf of the Old Dy’vorians, since our acquaintance has lasted on and off for some 53 years – the pupil/headmaster relationship and later as professorial colleagues in related fields of study. He was a pleasure to know in whatever role.
He was born in 1922 in Porth, son of a Methodist Minister. His father soon had a calling to Blaenau Ffestiniog and subsequently, Rhyl, where he became Principal of the theological college, Coleg Clywd. After Rhyl Grammar School, Meredydd went to study Maths at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and completed his studies (after a war stint in South West China – the start of his many travels). He embarked on a career in education, as a teacher in Cardiff, where he met and married Glenys, his wife for 50 years (Old Dy’vorians will no doubt recall her pushing a pram at School Sports on Underhill Park). He became Headmaster of our Old School at the ripe old age of 35 – quite unusual in those days.
He immediately impressed pupils and staff with his quiet authority, notwithstanding his quietness and nervousness (at the opening assembly in Mount Pleasant). I recall him congratulating the School on its excellent rugby and succer teams!). The fact that he also held a Barrister at Law qualification perhaps instilled in us some trepidation at the possible threat of legal retribution! Staff members I talked with down the years spoke of his vision, impeccable organisational skills, approachability, kindness and equanimity. Apparently it was he who introduced career discussions in the VIth form. I well recall his astonishment in one such event when, having asked Anthony Pierce and Alan Rees their career aspirations, they respectively responded “Bishop, sir” and “Abbot, sir”. Both, of course, subsequently and with great distinction realised their ambitions. He also recalled, with sly humour, how in later life, he failed the Archbishop of Canterbury in Maths!
In 1965, he left secondary for higher education, as a Lecturer in Education at University of Wales Cardiff, and soon acquired a PhD and a growing reputation for training heads and as a leading writer and researcher in educational administration. In the early 70’s he became Professor of Education (Social and Administrative Studies) at the University of Birmingham, where he retired in 1988. During his period there, he became Chairman of the British Educational Management and Administrative Society and President of the Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration, and did some notable work for UNESCO. We worked together continually during this period and I was greatly humbled by and proud of the fact that he now treated me as an equal. We enjoyed together several overseas scholarly expeditions in exalted places, but he always retained his down to earth simple tastes and quiet humour. On one overseas trip to Vancouver, he was not overly struck with what was on offer at a rather flamboyant Pacific Indian restaurant, which however, only specialised in salmon – and what salmon they were. However, Meredydd ever so politely enquired whether they did pie and chips, which he much preferred. Alas, they did not, so grilled salmon over a wood fire, it was!
After retirement, he and Glenys moved to Chelmsford to be with the family, where he became very active as a church elder and in the Chelmsford Welsh Society – and here our paths crossed yet again (though our contacts became more intermittent owing to his failing health after Glenys passed away).
As his daughter Mair so very well put it in the eulogy at this Farewell Service, he will always be remembered for his unfailing kindness, intelligence, sincerity, straightforwardness, sense of fun and for being a true Christian gentleman. Would that we could all earn this appellation at the end.
Emeritus Professor John L. Davies
Dynevor 1952 – 1959