Dr Llewellyn Morgan Rees
Teacher, University Lecturer, writer & Broadcaster
Aberdare Boys’ County School 1925–1931
Llewellyn Morgan Rees, better known as Llew, was born on March 14th, 1913. His father Gwilym was initially a miner but after his marriage to Ann (née Morgan) turned to farming at Castell Farm in Rhigos. Llew attended the elementary school in the village, and later transferred to the Aberdare Boys County School in September, 1925. He was blessed with both academic and athletic ability and achieved highly in both areas. He was a house captain in his final year, and his name appears on the School’s Challenge Shield for achievements in 1930-31*. In 1930, he gained a Welsh Rugby Schoolboy Cap when he played for the Welsh Secondary Schools against a French XV. He passed his school certificate in 1929, and Higher Certificate in 1931.
Llew gained entry to U.C. Cardiff where he studied classics; his degree was in Latin. During his undergraduate days he captained the college XV in the 1933-34 season. After graduation at Cardiff, he transferred to Carnegie College, Leeds to train as a teacher. Carnegie was a newly opened institution that was to specialise in the training of elite athletes in the disciplines of physical education.
Once qualified, he was appointed firstly to a school in Fleetwood, and then to Devonport High School, Plymouth. Whilst in the south west of England, he played rugby for both Plymouth Albion and for the county of Devon. Eventually the standard of his game was such that he appeared as a Welsh international trialist.
He enlisted in the RAF in 1939 and was sent to Canada for his training after which he became a navigator. He spent at least two of his war years in Burma.
In 1946 he was appointed lecturer in Physical Education at The Normal College Bangor. Many years later when UCNW Bangor took over The Normal, Llew was appointed Lecturer, and subsequently made Senior Lecturer in the Department of Education and also Director of Physical Education. Under his watchful eye, the college rugby club at Bangor became very successful in inter-college football. His reputation led to his appointment as selector of the University of Wales rugby team, as well as manager and chief selector of the British Universities team.
Not content with sport alone, Llew decided to resume his academic studies and enrolled as a part time student at Bangor and was eventually awarded a PhD for his research in education.
He also became better known to a wider audience in Wales, contributing occasional articles to Barn; and his considerable gift as an accomplished raconteur led to numerous contributions to Welsh language radio. He gave some humorous talks in Pobl Odd recounting characters he had encountered in the RAF as well as some from Rhigos. In Maes Chwarae and Byd y Bêl, he was a member of a team of rugby pundits, with Ike Davies and Jack Elwyn Watkins, who analysed play and commented on the rugby scene.
Llew married Joan Pugh Jones, from Menai Bridge, in December 1950. They raised a daughter Bethan, and there are now two grandchildren. Joan trained as a nursery teacher at St Mary’s Bangor and later taught there and finally at the Technical College in the town. The family lived in Penrhosgarnedd, Bangor but Joan has now returned to Anglesey and lives in Llanfair P.G. Llew had a sister Olwen who became senior mistress at Ebbw Vale Grammar School. She married Dewi Samuel who became the deputy headmaster at the same school. Both appear on this 1954 photograph.
Whilst still in post at Bangor, Llew developed cancer, and died at the relatively early at the age of 59 in 1972.
Bangor University maintains a prestigious prize, awarded annually, called The Llew Rees Memorial Prize. It is presented to the student who makes the greatest contribution to raising the profile of university sport by his or her personal achievement at the national or international level, and who contributes and participates in competitions representing the university as an individual or as a team member. The Memorial Prize is a fitting tribute to a person who contributed immensely to sport at Bangor.
The writing of this appreciation of the career of Llew Rees would not have been possible without the co-operation and help of Mrs Rees and Llew’s daughter Bethan, for which we are most grateful. We have also drawn upon information from the Bangor Rugby club website.
* See the Sporting Activities section of this website