Conversations with royalty, an infamous shipwreck, acting with Richard Burton and the dramas of World War II feature in a new book to be launched by Guild member Gaina Morgan at the RWAS Winter Fair opening ceremony on December 2.
A View From The Main Ring is the ‘autobiography’ of a Glamorgan farmer who has been centre stage at the Royal Welsh Show during its 50 years at Llanelwedd, Builth Wells. Dillwyn Thomas was a stalwart of the show as agricultural society assistant Honorary director responsible for horses, main ring, display and commentaries.
To mark his retirement this year, HRH Prince of Wales presented him with a Silver Armada dish (pictured below); in 2004, her Majesty the Queen presented him with the RWAS Life Vice Presidency.
Gaina says his life story provided a rich seam of tales: “His life and experience has spanned the extraordinary changes of the 20th century, from the days when manual labour and horse power drove the production of food to today’s computer chips and satellite systems.
“But it’s his innate understanding of people and livestock that have underpinned his work with the Royal Welsh and proved useful in conversations with Royalty.
“It was the Queen’s first pony that sparked a lively conversation between them during her visit to Llanelwedd in 1983. Scrabbling around for something to say and having been told only to call her ‘Your Majesty’ at the first greeting and from then on Ma’am, Dillwyn was able to introduce her to the granddaughter of the man who had bred her first, beloved, pony.
“Clearly delighted, she told him that she had been prevented from selling on the pony but instead had ‘to give it to my sister’. The much loved pet, Greylights, was eventually buried in Windsor Great Park.”
With his life beginning at a farm near Port Talbot in the 1920s, Dillwyn went onto serve in the Home Guard and even played a part in tracking down two escaped German prisoners of war. And there is also his role as an extra in a film, The Man from Morocco and as a stuntman for Richard Burton.
A life fully lived and a book packed-full with anecdotes.