Obituary: Dafydd Orwig

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Bilingual education in Wales owes a great deal to a handful of local government politicians. In Glamorganshire, to the socialist intellectual Lord Heycock, in Gwynedd to Lloyd George's nephew W.R.P. George and - in particular - to Dafydd Orwig, who was honoured this year by being chosen as chairman of the new Gwynedd Council.

Orwig had done a long stint as an effective councillor. He had been a member of the Caernarfonshire County Council in 1973 and was a member of Gwynedd County Council from 1974 until local government reorganisation in April 1996. During those 23 years he took every opportunity to safeguard the Welsh language of the policy council. He did so with vigour and made sure that the translation service was given plenty to do by speaking always in his native tongue. I salute him for his courage and was always proud to hear him at the University of Wales Court of Governors pleading for his beloved language.

He argued with conviction and his vision was of a bilingual Wales with every child able to speak the language and every student understanding it.

Orwig played an active part in the academic provision of textbooks in his own discipline. He wrote his first book in 1961, Fy Atlas Cyntaf ("My First Atlas"), then he adapted Cyril Midgley's Looking at the Map for Edrychwch ar y Map (1972) and C. Penrose's The Landscape of Britain for Tirlun Prydain (also 1972). But his outstanding contribution was as editor of Yr Atlas Cymraeg ("The Welsh Atlas"), published in 1988. It was the culmination of eight years of hard work for him and his team of contributors.

Dafydd Orwig taught at the county school in Blaenau Ffestiniog and the Dyffryn Ogwen High School in Bethesta, before being appointed a lecturer in a teachers' training college, Bangor Normal College, where he became an effective ambassador among future teachers.

Orwig was a very politically minded individual and his support for Plaid Cymru was total. He served the party in every possible sphere, at grass roots in the slate town of Bethesta, in the council chamber and, in a number of general elections, as agent for the nationalist candidate in the Conwy constituency.

His other great concern was the Celtic languages and he gave his best as chairman of the European Board of Lesser Used Languages. He was a fine Celt (he had received his early education at Carnew School in Co Wicklow) and his contribution to the Welsh language cannot be measured. He once told me that his greatest interest in life was to promote the language in every sphere.

Personally he showed the way by deleting his own original surname of Jones, a symbolic act which became popular with so many younger members of the Welsh Language Society. The society was proud he was one of its early members.

Dafydd Orwig Jones (Dafydd Orwig), teacher, geographer and local politician: born Deiniolen, Caernarvonshire 17 September 1928; married (three sons); died Bangor 10 November 1996.

Comments