Weatherman Walking heads to Pembrokeshire to commemorate Welsh Catholic School teacher

TV weatherman Derek Brockway will be pulling on his walking boots again this weekend when he takes part in a celebratory stomp in celebration of Pembrokeshire’s mighty Welsh poet, Catholic school teacher and anti-war campaigner, Waldo Williams.

The walk, which will be filmed for the next series of his popular BBC series Weatherman Walking, takes place this Saturday, 30th September, which is recognised nationally across Wales as Waldo Day.

Born in Haverfordwest on 30th September 1904, Waldo began writing poetry at a young age, despite the fact that in his early years he was unable to speak Welsh. His father, John Edwal Williams, was a Welsh speaker and headmaster of Prendegast Primary School, however his mother, Angharad, only spoke English.

When Waldo was seven, the family moved to Mynachlogddu when his father was appointed headmaster of the village school. And this was when Waldo discovered his life-long love of the Welsh language.

In 1917 he won a scholarship to study at Narberth Grammar School and went on to read English in Aberystwyth University. Throughout the 1930s he taught at primary schools throughout Pembrokeshire, and this was when he began gaining recognition as one of the leading Welsh language poets of the 20th century. He was also a notable Christian pacifist, an anti-war campaigner and a Welsh nationalist.

His actions as a conscientious objector led to his dismissal from a headmastership and during the Korean war (1950-1953) he refused to pay his income tax on pacificist grounds. For this he was imprisoned twice and his goods sequestered by bailiffs.

In the 1950s he joined the Quakers at Milford Haven and in the late 1960s, he taught Welsh to children at the Holy Name Catholic School in Fishguard where he was described as being ‘a mesmerising teacher, passionate and enthusiastic’  He is remembered for using wooden silhouettes of farm animals with their names painted in Welsh on one side.

Waldo Williams died in 1971 at St Thomas’s Hospital, Haverfordwest, and was buried at Blaenconin Chapel burial ground in Llandissilio.

The Waldo Walk begins this Saturday at Bethel Chapel vestry at 10.30am and will proceed to the Carreg Waldo/Waldo memorial stone.  It has been organsed by Menter Iaith Sir Benfro.

Joining Derek Brockway will be Welsh poet Mererid Hopwood who will be reading a selection of his poetry on the walk.


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