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John ‘Bwlchllan’ yn ei gwrcwd ar lawr

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1974 OEDD Y FLWYDDYN. Mis Mai. Gwesty Scotts yng Ngill Airne yng ngorllewin Gweriniaeth Iwerddon oedd y lleoliad. Yr achlysur oedd yr Ŵyl Ban-Geltaidd. Roedd yno rialtwch. Roedd yno sŵn a swae. Roedd hi’n hwyrhau. Clywsom lais dwfn Elfed Lewys yn canu baledi. Clywid offerynne gwerin yn y cefndir. Pwy eisteddai ar lawr yn ei gwrcwd yng nghanol y cyfan yn tynnu ar ei bȋb ond y Dr John Davies.

Eisteddodd tri neu bedwar ohonom o’i amgylch. Cawsom ddarlith fyrfyfyr am hanes Iwerddon. Hoeliwyd ein sylw. Bu rhaid i eraill gamu drosom i fynd heibio gan arllwys eu diodydd arnom. Ond fe’n syfrdanwyd gan y wybodaeth a’r dadansoddi treiddgar. Roedd ‘Bwlchllan’ yn ei elfen a ninne’n wrandawyr eiddgar.

Ble ond yn Iwerddon y gellid cael sefyllfa o’r fath? Wel, yn Neuadd Pantycelyn yn Aberystwyth efalle yn ystod teyrnasiad John fel warden dros 15 mlynedd. Ond y noson honno yn Killarney roedd deng munud yng nghwmni’r athrylith yn ddigon i argyhoeddi’r amheuwr pennaf pa mor bwysig yw hanes i ddiwyllio’r unigolyn.

Pa hanesydd arall fyddai wedi gosod ei hun yn y fath sefyllfa? Pa hanesydd arall fyddai wedi mynychu gŵyl o’r fath? Erbyn bore trannoeth roedd John Davies wedi’i sefydlu ei hun yn arwr ac yn gymeriad yn ein plith. Fel ‘Bwlchllan’ y cyfeiriem ato wedyn. Rhoddai hynny ef ar yr un pedestal â ‘Doshan’, fel y cyfeiriem at Eirwyn Jones, Pontsian. Roedd dawn y cyfarwydd gan y ddau. Bu’r naill yn astudio yng Nghaergrawnt tra broliai’r llall iddo fod yno ar gefn beic.

Pan gyhoeddwyd y gyfrol ‘Hanes Cymru’ yn 1990 dychmygwn Bwlchllan yn traethu ar ei gwrcwd wrth imi ddarllen y 700 o dudalenne. Ni fedraf ddychmygu’r un Cymro twymgalon heb gopi o’r gyfrol ar ei silff. Fe’i cyhoeddwyd yn Gymraeg ac yn Saesneg gan Penguin. Mae’n gyfrol i ymestyn ati o bryd i’w gilydd pe bai dim ond i ryfeddu fod gan y genedl y fath hanes yn ei hawl ei hun. Nid atodiad i’r un genedl arall mohonom. Mae gennym ein cof ein hunain a hwnnw wedi’i groniclo gan Bwlchllan. Mae’r gyfrol yn werth llawer mwy na’r pris o £30 a godwyd amdani.

A nodweddiadol o’r awdur oedd iddo ysgrifennu’r clasur tra ar ei deithie ar draws dinasoedd Ewrop mewn amgylchiade tebyg i Westy’r Scotts yn aml iawn. Nid wrth ddesg mewn llyrfgell lwchlyd ond ar fwrdd mewn clwb nos swnllyd. Roedd y ffeithie ar flaenau ei fysedd a’i gamp oedd eu gosod yn eu cyd-destun gan roi ystyr i’n bodolaeth.

Teithiodd Gymru benbaladr gan sugno’r wlad i’w gyfansoddiad. Ffrwyth yr adnabyddiaeth drylwyr honno oedd y gyfrol ‘Cymru – y 100 lle i’w gweld cyn marw’ a gyhoeddwyd yn 2009. Gwelodd Bwlchllan nhw i gyd. Mae’r gyfrol ar fin cael ei hail-argraffu ar ôl bod mas o brint.

Nodweddiadol o ehangder ei ddiddordebe mewn materion Cymreig oedd ei ymwneud ag ymchwiliad cyhoeddus answyddogol, o dan gadeiryddiaeth yr Arglwydd Gifford, wedi’r achos cynllwynio yn erbyn aelodau o’r Mudiad Gweriniaethol Sosialaidd Cymreig yn Llys y Goron Caerdydd yn 1983. Cofiaf ei holi droeon wrth i’r ymchwiliad fynd yn ei flaen a chael ei atebion yn ddifefl gytbwys.

Dyledus wyf iddo am ei eiriau caredig wrth feirniadu cystadleuaeth llunio pennod gyntaf llyfr crwydro ar y thema o ddilyn un o afonydd Cymru yn Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Môn 1990. Dal heb eu sgrifennu mae gweddill y penodau am Cleddau Ddu. Ar ôl dilyn y nentydd nid euthum ymhellach na Phont Hywel. Ofnwn na fedrwn efelychu joie de vivre llenyddol y beirniad ei hun. Rhaid fydd i mi shiffto fy stwmps gwlei.

Pan ddarlledwyd hunan-bortread ohono ar S4C yn 2013 nid pawb gynhesai at y rhaglen. Nodweddiadol o’r gwrthrych oedd iddo ddewis ymddeol i ardal Grangetown o’r brifddinas yn hytrach nag i un o’r maestrefi goludog. Roedd wrth ei fodd yng nghanol y concrid aml-ddiwylliannol. Dyna oedd ei Gymru fodern. Ond wedyn roedd ei ardd ym Mwlchllan ym mherfeddion Ceredigion.

Wrth derfynu ei gampwaith ysgolheigaidd cyfeiria at gwestiwn yr Athro Gwyn Alf Williams, un arall o’r cewri hanes, pan ofynnodd, ‘pa bryd y bu Cymru?’ Ateb Bwlchllan oedd: ‘Ysgrifennwyd y llyfr hwn yn y ffydd a’r hyder na fu hi eto yn ei llawnder’.

Gyda marwolaeth y Dr John Davies, y gŵr o’r Rhondda, ar Chwefror 15 yn 76 oed, collwyd clamp o Gymro.

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BBC Unsung Hero Awards are back!

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BBC Wales is searching for a great volunteer in Wales who’s made a difference in the last 12 months. Nominations are open today (17 September) for the 2019 BBC Wales Unsung Hero award.

The BBC Wales Unsung Hero award celebrates the most inspiring, dynamic and dedicated volunteers driving participation in grassroots sports and fitness activities in Wales.

Last year, volunteer Asa Waite from Newport was named the BBC Wales Unsung Hero. Asa is a basketball coach and runs training sessions and games for young people.

Asa said: “Winning the BBC Wales Unsung Hero award last year was such an honour. The award is something I would never have dreamt of and couldn’t achieve without the support of the participants, parents and guardians. All the other nominees were amazing so I really feel honoured. Winning the award has given me such confidence in what I am doing and made me realise that I am making a real difference to not just local young people but Newport as a whole.”

From volunteer fitness instructors who offer classes in communities, to the person who spends their free time running the social media accounts for dance clubs, or the steward who turns up every week to cheer on the runners in the weekly 5km. BBC Wales is looking for your local sporting superhero who has an inspiring story to tell.

Geoff Williams, Head of Sport at BBC Wales says: “The Unsung Hero award is all about honouring the people who show up, bring people together and really make a difference in their community. Volunteers are a hugely important aspect of any sport and it’s fantastic to give these people the recognition they truly deserve.”

Winner of BBC Wales’ Unsung Hero award will receive the award at the Wales Sport Awards ceremony on Tuesday, 10 December at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport.

The winner will then represent Wales in the BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero joining other winners from Scotland, Northern Ireland and English regions. The overall UK winner will receive their award at this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony live on BBC One.

To nominate your BBC Wales Unsung Hero by video, audio, online webform or via email, simply visit www.bbc.co.uk/unsunghero or www.walessportawards.co.uk. Entries close on Sunday 20 October at midnight and the shortlist will be revealed in the days leading up to national BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony in December.

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Donate A Gate Scheme Launched

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Life is punctuated by occasions and events to be marked, remembered and commemorated. For some of these, it may be more appropriate to do something that has a longer-lasting effect than a card or flowers. Speaking on behalf of Ceredigion County Councils Public Rights of Way team, Eifion Jones says: “We have regular requests to install memorial or commemorative benches along paths in the county, and whilst there are a few locations where this is appropriate and useful, in the most part something as formal as a garden bench can be intrusive and out of place in our wild and remote landscape.” With this in mind, the team have launched a ‘Donate a Gate’ scheme.

The idea came about after a member of the public got in touch to see if they could ‘adopt’ a path as a unique and unusual gift to mark the wedding of some close friends. The couple are keen walkers regularly visiting Ceredigion to use the Rights of Way network, and their imaginative friend thought that contributing to the upkeep of these would be a fitting way to mark their special day. Not being something that had been done in Ceredigion before, it seemed wrong to turn down the chance of being able to carry out work which, without this donation, may not have been possible right now. The team came up with the suggestion of buying a pedestrian gate to replace a ‘past its best’ kissing gate on the Coast Path.

Councillor Rhodri Evans is the Cabinet member with responsibility for Economy and Regeneration. He said: “A simple replacement such as this can allow access to more people in line with Ceredigion County Council’s commitment to providing the least restrictive access wherever possible. The team’s innovative idea of launching the donate scheme is a great way for people to contribute to the Rights of Way network in a unique and special way while the team and its volunteers can continue to repair and protect the coastal path; doing their best to make it fit for use by anyone wanting to enjoy our wonderful countryside views.”

Installed by the Rights of Way Volunteers, the gate sits on the Coast Path looking over Ynys Lochtyn. As such it gives the newlyweds a stunning location to visit as part of their walks, something tangible they’ve contributed to and a place to visit to remind them of their special day.

If you’re looking for a way to mark an occasion, remember a loved one, promote your business or for an unusual gift, then you could consider donating towards a piece of furniture or stretch of path. The scheme is not restricted to gates and will include waymarking posts, bridges and flights of steps at the discretion of the Rights of Way team. These could be on a path which is near to your home, has a special significance to someone or indeed the iconic and famous Ceredigion Coast Path. A plaque can be placed on the item with appropriate wording recognising the donation as part of the installation process.

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Drug deaths at their highest ever levels in Wales

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WELSH drug deaths are at their highest ever levels according to a new report by Public Health Wales, with deaths from drug poisoning having increased by 78 per cent over the last 10 years.

The report also highlights that drug deaths may be increasingly occurring in people using drugs on a recreational basis, with a rise in deaths involving cocaine, amphetamine and MDMA collectively accounting for 14 per cent of drug misuse deaths. These deaths tended to occur amongst younger people in their 20’s.

In a third of all drug deaths reviewed, ‘no known contact’ was reported between the deceased and any local health, social care or criminal justice services in the 12 months prior to death.

The report recommends action to influence the current legislative approach to drugs policy in the UK, as well as a medical amnesty policy to protect people seeking medical attention relating to drug poisonings.

Drug misuse deaths, a subset of drug poisoning deaths, have increased by 52 per cent over the last decade and by 12 per cent in the last year up from 185 deaths in 2017 to 208 in 2018 – with a current rate of 72 deaths per million population. Wales has the second highest rates of drug misuse deaths in England and Wales regions.

Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse in Public Health Wales, said:
“Drug markets have changed and expanded over the last few years, both in terms of availability, and range of drugs, and this trend is set to continue. One of the most distressing impacts of these changes is the rise in premature deaths.

“Across Wales there are effective interventions in place to reduce premature drug deaths including specialist substance misuse services and, for opioid deaths, the provision of Take-Home Naloxone. However, expansion of the Naloxone programme will be required to ensure widespread access to this life-saving intervention. In addition it is vital that the range of people using drugs are able to make better use of services that can support them, and reduce their risk of harm and premature death.

“Given the scale of problem drug use in Wales, it is likely that every member of the population will know someone affected by, or experiencing difficulties with drugs be they illegal or prescribed, but may be unaware. Evidence is clear that seeking support early on can prevent escalation of problem use and dependency, however, fear of stigmatisation and social exclusion may be barriers to this. Consideration needs to be given to how this can be overcome in Wales to prevent future tragic deaths.”

As in previous years, opioids including heroin were involved in the just over half of drug misuse deaths reported in 2018. Poly-drug use, the use of other drugs including benzodiazepines and cocaine, was reported in 49 per cent.

In addition, there has been a more than four-fold increase in the number of deaths involving cocaine over the last five years. In 2018, cocaine was recorded in 31 of deaths, representing 15 per cent of all drug misuse deaths.

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