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)

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: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?