It was with great sadness that we announced the death of the founder and Honorary President of Nant Gwrtheyrn, Dr Carl Clowes in the early hours of the morning on Saturday, December 4th, 2021, following a short illness. He was 77 years old.
The vision of bringing this village back to life by recreating it as a national centre for the Welsh language belonged to Carl Clowes; he was the Trust’s first Chairman and he continued to be an active and hardworking member of the Board until the present day.
The Trustees and the staff here feel this loss intensely and sympathise deeply with Dorothi and the family at this sad time.
Here is the tribute paid by Huw Jones, Chairman of Ymdddiriedolaeth Nant Gwrtheyrn / the Nant Gwrtheyrn Trust:
It is difficult to convey the sense of emptiness that we feel today. We have lost one of the great benefactors of the Welsh language.
Carl Clowes was a visionary in the true sense – a man who had dreams and succeeded in inspiring thousands of others to share them, but also had the practical ability and stubbornness to make them come true.
In the case of Nant Gwrtheyrn, the symbolic sadness of the abandoned village was known to a whole nation. But Carl saw how life could be brought back by creating a language centre there. The intention from the outset was to develop a powerhouse that would create thousands of new Welsh speakers, while bringing significant employment for Welsh speakers in an area where work was scarce, following the closure of the quarries.
And he succeeded. Despite many trials and tribulations, with the support and assistance of his wife Dorothi, and the other colleagues who joined the venture, and also the volunteers and organisations across Wales who then raised funds to buy the site and rebuild it, the ruins were turned into a vibrant centre on solid foundations.
As well as being the inaugural Chairman, he was an ever-present member of the Nant Gwrtheyrn Trust from its outset to the present day and was appointed honorary President some years ago.
His challenging energy was evident throughout. Whatever else he had in the pipeline – and there were many other initiatives and causes that were also close to his heart – he was still bursting with ideas about things that Nant should be doing.
‘Byw fyddi Nant Gwrtheyrn’ (‘Nant Gwrtheyrn you will live again’) was the chorus of a well-known song by the Ac Eraill group in the 1970’s. Nant was a symbol of the decline of a community, a nation, and a language. But it then became a powerful symbol of their revival. Carl Clowes turned the slogan into reality. All those who come to the Nant to learn Welsh, or simply as visitors, will have reason to thank him for generations to come. Our loss as a Trust is immeasurable.
Chairman, Ymddiriedolaeth Nant Gwrtheyrn / the Nant Gwrtheyrn Trust