108-year-old Rhys Lewis leaves £10,000 to old universityBy Laura Herbert
March 11, 2013
Wokingham's oldest man Rhys Lewis left a £10,000 bequest to his old university in Wales.
Mr Lewis, who died last July aged 108, left the money to Aberystwyth University to be spent on books for the main library.
A former miner and oldest Welshman, he enrolled at the university in west Wales as a mature student aged 25 in 1928 and studied history and economic history before training to be a teacher and later moved to London.
His eldest son John, who was also an Aberystwyth graduate, presented a cheque to the vice chancellor of Aberystwyth University on Wednesday, February 20.
He told The Wokingham Times: “Going to university meant a terrible amount to him and helped him a lot in life. It gave him a middle class job and lifted his self-being.
“He left school at 13 but he was quite capable of getting a degree.
“Life was pretty tough going for him because they didn’t have the grants and loans for university, but he felt going to university was very important.”
Mr Lewis added: “I presented the cheque to the vice chancellor and a number of staff from the university’s history department attended the ceremony.
“They have made a plate to go in each book that says ‘this is at the bequest of Rhys Lewis’ in both Welsh and English.”
Mr Lewis, who had lived in Wokingham since 1949, was just two months away from his 109th birthday when he died.
After working in a coal mine for 10 years since leaving school, he saved all his money to study history, geology and Welsh courses at Swansea University before moving on to Aberystwyth University and the London School of Economics.
He then moved to Wokingham, where he was the head of the history department at Easthampstead Park College of Education – now known as Easthampstead Park Conference Centre – from 1949 to 1970.
A room at the conference centre, the Lewis Room, was named in his honour in 2009 when he was aged 105.