Obituary: Canon Bill Morgan

William Badham Morgan, clergyman and politician, born Trelewis Mid-Glamorgan 17 October 1940, married (two sons), died Merthyr Tydfil 8 March 1993.

THE DEATH of Bill Morgan has robbed the South Wales valleys of an outstanding champion of the values which sustain communities, especially at times like the present when the going is tough. He stood four-square for the belief that there is such a thing as society. He amply demonstrated that commitment to the common good is worth a good deal more than any number of injunctions to stand on your own feet and look after Number One.

Bill Morgan was born in the mining village of Trelewis, a few miles from Merthyr Tydfil. After attending school at nearby Bargoed he worked in one of the collieries which provided the raison d'etre for much of South Wales. In 1965 he gained a B Sc degree at the University of Wales in Cardiff before studying at Ripon Hall, Oxford. He was ordained in 1972 and settled in Merthyr. In recognition of his work with the unemployed he was made an Honorary Canon of the Church in Wales in 1988. Three years later he became Rural Dean of Merthyr Tydfil.

Like many clergy in industrial areas, he combined church work with political activity. A leading figure in valley politics and a member of the Transport and General Workers' Union, he was in the forefront of many battles for trade-union rights.

As a tireless fighter for the underdog he helped to rescue many young people from the dole queue - the Merthyr Action Programme, launched in the late 1970s, stands testimony to his persistence. He served on Merthyr Borough Council as leader of the Labour group and held office as mayor. Ill-health forced his retirement from the council in 1986 but his interest in municipal affairs never wavered.

As Labour candidate at Worcester in the general elections of February and October 1974 he succeeded in reducing the majority of the incumbent Peter Walker from 7,000 to 5,000. When Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited Britain in February 1989 it was natural that Tutu should return to Merthyr where a couple of years earlier he had been made a Freeman of the Borough. It was also entirely natural that he should renew his friendship with Bill Morgan; journalists covering the archbishop's visit retain vivid memories of the warmth of their meeting in a hall just across the road from the site of one of the town's long-gone iron-works.

Today the borough faces the loss of its remaining colliery, Taff Merthyr, which is one of the top 10 on the Government's closure list. It stands a stone's throw from Bill Morgan's birthplace. As time passes and the valleys green over, people like Bill Morgan, no less than the colliery communities in which they grew up, will continue to hold a special place in Welsh hearts. The valleys are that sort of place.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower