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Hafina Clwyd 1936–2011

Teacher, writer, columnist, historian, diarist, political animal, feminist, above all a citizen, Hafina Clwyd Coppack who died in March, will be greatly missed by all those who knew her, read her works, and were inspired by her passionate commitment towards language and culture, and, not least, to Ruthin, her home territory. A farmer’s daughter, she was born in Gwyddelwern, grew up in Llanychan, and was educated at Bala Girls’ Grammar School. She trained to be a teacher at Bangor Coleg Normal, and taught in London from 1957 until returning to Wales in 1979. It is easy to lose contact with your roots in the vastness and anonymity of Greater London, and many do so. Not Hafina. She threw herself into the life of the London Welsh, taking a leading role in the formation of Clwb Llyfrau Cymraeg (later, the Welsh Books Council), and organisation described by Meic Stephens, in his obituary for Hafina in the Independent, as ‘the ancient and most pinstripe of all Welsh expatriate societies in London’. Back in Wales with her husband Cliff Coppack, Hafina soon estabIished herseIf as a commentator on Welsh affairs, writing regular columns for the Western Mail, and, in Ruthin for Y Bedol and, Y Faner, and, not least, as I am sure she would have agreed, for Town and Around. She was a prolific novelist and storyteller, and had a voracious interest in family history—her own, and that of countless other families, whose researches she encouraged. Her Pobol sy Cyfn (It’s People who Count), a deep analysis of the the 1891 census, was agreed on all sides to be a most valuable contribution to the social history of a rural area. Those who want I to read more
of her output neec only consult the Transactions of the Denbighshire Historical Society in Ruthin Library. It was perhaps typical of Hafina that it was politics which brought her to active membership of the Ruthin and District Civic Association. She attended the first of our now familiar Hustings before a general election, was impressed; and came to me afterwards to see if she could join. It was of course an honour to have her or board. She was soon on the committee, involving herself with Arnold Hughes and myself in the choice of sites for the green plaques commemorating people and events in the history of Ruthin, which are now such a familiar feature of the town. There would be a strong case for installing a plaque to honour her - certainly there should be some kind of visible recognition of her many achievements and contributions to Welsh and local life, including of course, her membership of the town council, her year as mayor of Ruthin (of which she was immenseIy proud), her unstnting support for the Craft Centre, and her honorary fellowship of Bangor University, her alma mater. Of course, for those of us on Town and Around, it was her membership of the editorial group which was particularly special. As editor, I valued first the quality of her writing and the range of her interests and contacts. But she also knew, from nay years experience, the kind of pressures which all editors face; she never missed a deadline and insisted that the editor had the last word—in that, if no other respect, she was not a democrat! Derek Jones