Nye: Bywyd Angerddol Aneurin Bevan - Manon Steffan Ros and Valériane Leblond
Updated: Oct 21, 2022
*For WELSH Review see language toggle switch on top of page*
(suggested) interest age: 3-7+
(suggested) reading age: 6+
Genre: #nonfiction #welshhistory #inspirational #WelshOriginal
I doubt there’s many of us reading this who haven't had some contact or other with the National Health Service (NHS) at some point in our lives. I count myself very lucky to be here in all honesty, thanks to the excellent care I had in hospital when I was seven years old for a nasty dose of bronchitis. If it wasn't for that treatment, who knows what would have happened. I firmly believe the NHS saved my life, and has done so on more than one occasion!
The NHS gets a lot of stick in the media, and there's endless complaining about it from some, especially when you can't get a dentist or you’ve been waiting for knee surgery for years... No, it ain’t perfect. I doubt anyone is kidding themselves that it is. And whilst there are certainly areas for improvement, I think we sometimes forget how lucky we are to have free medical treatment for all.
‘Enwogion o Fri’ series
Just going to say a few words about this series, which is a good example of how to produce an incredibly interesting and diverse series, and one that is of a high standard come to that. The various author and artist combinations not only promote variety, but careful thought has gone into picking the historical figures, which are often ones who have been largely overlooked, or ones we may be less familiar with. The pairing up of authors and artists has been done thoughtfully – each book bringing something new to the table with its own unique vibes. This time it’s Valériane Leblond (author of The Quilt) illustrating and Manon Steffan Ros wordsmithing, so you just know straight away we're in safe hands! I think it was a good idea to publish two versions of each book; making it accessible to a wider audience. See details of the English version here.
What a Welshman
It's amazing to think that the story of the NHS – a beloved service that has saved millions of people over the decades – had it’s roots here in Wales, with a young lad from Tredegar- Aneurin Bevan, or 'Nye' as he was known.
'Nye' left school at 14, and worked as a miner for years – learning the art of public speaking and addressing crowds through his work with the union. He demanded better rights for his co-workers. After becoming a seasoned public speaker, he was elected as Member of Parliament for the area, and things grew from there.
He made quite an impression while he was in Westminster. I won’t say too much, because Manon Steffan tells his life story far better than I ever could. But it’s safe to say that 'Nye' had a vision: to make big changes and to create something truly special.
An amazing story
I'm still amazed that a Welshman was the driving force behind a first-of-its-kind national service – free medical care at the point of need. The community was very important to Nye, and this is evident from his hard work throughout his life- always working to support others. The book conveys beautifully how he was influenced by the close-knit community in Tredegar, and the way everybody looked out for one another there.
When I read Nye's story, I'm not only impressed, but I feel proud. It really does inspire you. It makes one feel that anything is possible. If the son of a South Wales coal miner with a stammer can achieve what he did, we too can do anything – there really is no limit to our potential.
Yes, the NHS is under enormous pressure, and its future hangs in the balance because of those who oppose it, abuse it or take it for granted, but we really should hold on to it and cherish it. We don't know how good we've got it! It’s impossible to put a price on our gratitude as a nation to Nye Bevan, and to all NHS staff who work tirelessly to look after us when we need it most.
I’m glad Llyfrau Broga has cast a fresh light on Nye's story; introducing him to a younger generation. I think it’s important that they learn about the Welsh origins of the NHS and to realize it’s true value, because it is they who will be entrusted with it’s future. It will be their duty to ensure it continues for years to come.
The NHS is more than just a medical ‘service’ – it’s a glimmer of hope in a world that can be fraught with selfishness, prejudice and inequality. A glimmer of hope that we can be better- a fine example of how caring for each other, rather than just looking after ourselves pays off in the long run. And it all starts in a town in Blaenau Gwent.