Huw Llywelyn Rees


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15th November

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By: Huw Llywelyn Rees
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Aneurin Bevan  was one of the most important ministers of the post-war Labour government and the chief architect of the National Health Service. 

Born on 15 November 1897 in Tredegar, Bevan was raised in a working class community where he witnessed the hardships caused by disease and poverty.

Leaving school at 13, he worked underground and became active in the trades union before winning a scholarship to study in London. Bevan became one of the leaders of the South Wales miners during the General Strike in 1926, and in 1929, he was elected as Labour MP  for Ebbw Vale. 

During World War Two, Bevan emerged as one of the opposition leaders in the House of Commons, and following the Labour victory in the 1945 general election, was appointed as the minister of health in charge of setting up the National Health Service. On 5 July 1948, the government became responsible for all medical services, with 'free diagnosis and treatment for all'.

In 1951, Bevan became minister of labour but resigned from the government in protest at the introduction of prescription charges for spectacles and dental care. He led the 'Bevanites', the left wing of the Labour Party, for the next five years.

Bevan was elected deputy leader of the Labour Party in 1959, despite suffering from terminal cancer. He passed away on 6 July 1960.  


The Battle of the Winwaed, fought on 15 November 655 (or 654), ended in defeat and death for King Penda of Mercia.

Penda had overthrown the previously dominant Northumbrians at Hatfield Chase in 633, and at the Battle of Maserfield in 642. He subsequently sought to defeat Bernicia, at one point besieging Bamburgh, and entrapping Oswiu, the Bernician leader, at a place called Iudeu (identified with Stirling) in the north of his kingdom. Oswiu sued for peace, and an agreement was reached, but for some reason, the two armies engaged at the River Winwaed. The Northumbrian force would have been outnumbered by the Mercians, but according to Bede, Oswiu prayed before the battle and promised to make his daughter a nun and grant twelve estates for the construction of monasteries if he was victorious. 

According to the Historia Brittonum, Penda's army was weakened by desertion. His ally Cadafael ap Cynfeddw of Gwynedd (thereafter remembered as "Cadomedd" (="battle-shirker")) abandoned him, and Bede says that Aethelwald of Deira withdrew from the battle to await the outcome from a place of safety. Penda was soundly defeated, and both he and his ally, the East Anglian King Aethelhere, were killed. Bede mentions that Penda's head was cut off. 

 Mercia's dominance was destroyed, and Northumbria temporarily restored; Mercia itself was divided, with the north being claimed by Oswiu and the south being acceded to Penda's Christian son Peada. 

The battle marked the demise of Anglo-Saxon paganism. After Penda's death, Mercia was converted, and all subsequent kings (including Penda's sons Peada, Wulfhere and Æthelred) were Christian.  


Petula Clark, whose mother was Welsh, was born on 15 November 1932. She visited her grandparents in Merthyr Tydfil frequently as a child, learned to speak Welsh and sang in their chapel.

Since making her first movie in 1944, Petula has appeared in over thirty films. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, she was a regular guest on radio shows, and made her first television appearance in the 1940s, hosting her own television series. She was very popular in France and became a star throughout Europe. The single 'Downtown' launched Petula's American career and earned her a Grammy Award in 1964. Throughout the 1960s, she released numerous charts hits, starred in musicals and appeared frequently on TV. She remains a popular performing artist aged over 80.  


Today is the feast day of Saint Mechell.

He founded the 6th-century monastery of Llanfechell on Anglesey, where he is supposedly buried. He was reputedly Breton by birth, the son of Echwys ab Gwyn Gohoew. Many miracles are attributed to him, including resurrecting a giant and converting him to Christianity, turning thieves to stone while blinding and then curing the leader, who in gratitude gifted Mechell with land on which to found a monastery. The extent of the land was to be demarked by the route taken by a released hare, which under divine guidance marked the full extent of what is now the parish of Llanfechell.