OVER 700 people attended a charity lunch at Parc y Scarlets today, Tuesday (Oct 31) to raise funds for the Ray Gravell and Friends Charitable Trust. Stars from the world of rugby and media attended the event including Ruth Jones (Gavin and Stacey), Dafydd Iwan, Delme Thomas, Gareth Jenkins, Nigel Davies, Rupert Moon, Derek Quinnell, Phil Bennett, Roy Bergiers and many more.
The evening commenced with the familiar sound of Yma o Hyd playing as guests took their seats. Guests were then shown a video outlining the work of the charity, which to date has raised one million pounds.
Mr Robert Williams MBE and Chairman of the trust paid tribute to Ray Gravell and the people behind the trust. There was also a tribute to the late Albert Francis MBE who was a stalwart of the rugby world and a massive figure within the charitable trust and the West Wales community.
BBC newsreader Huw Edwards was the Chief Guest and he paid his own special tribute to Ray Gravell, Albert Francis and the work of the trust. He told the audience of his father’s close friendship with Grav and said that the term legend was sadly overused today but that Ray Gravell was someone the term was made for. He said that Ray had achieved an incredible amount during his life.
The guests were treated to two videos courtesy of BBC Wales in which we saw glimpses of the diverse life Ray Gravell led including his rugby, acting and radio career. There were also glimpses of his his life with his family, wife Mari and daughters Manon and Gwennan and his love of the Welsh language and culture. Similarly there was a video tribute to Albert Francis who had settled in Llanelli and become a larger than life figure in every facet of the community. As one of the founders he was instrumental in establishing the Ray Gravell and Friends Charitable Trust.
Many of the VIP patrons of the trust from the business community were present including George Parker of Parker Plant Hire, Brian Jones of Castell Howell, Russell and David Jenkins of Jenkins Bakery, Huw Owens of Owens Group, representatives from HAC Group, WRW, Acorn, Cawdor Cars, Sterling, and Princes Gate Spring Water.
The event began at 1pm and the guests were treated to a three course lunch as well as a variety of entertainment. Former referee Alun Wyn Bevan welcomed to the stage members of the 1980’s British Lions team Jim Renwick (Hawick and Scotland), Peter Wheeler (Leicester and England) and Gareth Davies (Cardiff and Wales). Each gave their own personal tribute to Ray Gravell and Albert Francis. Stories of Ray’s antics on tour on and off the field provided a special insight into the life of the man most knew as Grav.
Actor Gareth Bale provided a short excerpt of his performance as Grav with a monologue as Ray laying bare all of his insecurities and recalling his encounters during matches as told to his mother on returning to the mountain.
Actress Ruth Jones (Gavin and Stacey) also gave a short tribute to Ray and said that she had invited Ray to play the part of an admirer of one of the characters but sadly she said, it was never to be, but we can all imagine she said.
Comedians Owen Money and Colin Price took to the stage and paid their tributes to Grav before launching into a double act of typically Welsh comedy. Owen Money said that it had been a pleasure to work with Grav at Radio Wales for almost 20 years.
Following a raffle and an auction comedian Josh Daniels took to the stage and entertained the audience with his unique take on life through comedic song.
The event was about remembering and giving and one VIP patron had the opportunity of winning £10,000 for their nominated charity. First out of the hat was George Parker of Parker Plant Hire and he has donated the money to the Meurig Williams Community Diabetes Centre. Dr Williams and members of the team were at the event to receive the award.
It was left to one of Ray’s great friends and equally highly esteemed Welshmen Dafydd Iwan to close proceedings with renditions of some of his inimitable songs.
Compere for the evening was Adrian Davies, formerly Wales’ top professional squash player.