Colli’r côf a’r cysylltiad gyda chyfnod sefydlu’r undeb

gan Gwyn Williams, cyd‐weithiwr a chyfaill

ROEDD Meurig Voyle yn berson arbennig i lawer iawn ohonom. Meurig Voyle, Mr Voyle, Meurig a Voyle; ond yr un oedd y person. Ble bynnag y byddai Meurig, roedd ei bersonoliaeth yn gorlifo drosodd; beth bynnag oedd y dasg roedd ei frwdfrydedd a’i afiaith yn heintus; ac roedd ar dân tros Undeb Amaethwyr Cymru ar hyd ei oes. Gelwais i’w weld yn y cartref yn Llanrhaeadr brynhawn Iau y Sioe Frenhinol eleni, gan dreulio dwyawr yn sgwrsio a thrafod ‐ ie, Undeb Amaethwyr Cymru a ffawd amaethyddiaeth Cymru yn y cyfnod argyfyngus presennol.

Wedi cyfnod yn y fyddin a’r Bwrdd Marchnata Llaeth, daeth i weithio gydag Undeb Amaethwyr Cymru fel Ysgrifennydd Sirol Cynorthwyol yn Sir Gaerfyrddin rhwng 1961 ac 1966. Torrodd ei ddannedd fel ymgyrchydd ac ymladdwr dros y diwydiant amaeth trwy fod yn ysgrifennydd Pwyllgor Amddiffyn y Gwendraeth Fach; ymgyrch lwyddianus y bu’n ymfalchio ynddi. Yn ystod y cyfnod yma hefyd bu’n allweddol yn sefydlu Clwb Ffermwyr Ifanc Dyffryn Tywi.

Ym 1966 penodwyd ef yn Ysgrifennydd Sirol yn Sir Ddinbych, gan ychwanegu Sir Fflint at ei gyfrifoldebau yn 1968. Treuliodd weddill ei gyfnod gwaith yn gwasanaethu yr undeb a’i haelodau yn y rhan arbennig hon o Ogledd Cymru.

Rhaid cofio cyd‐destun y cyfnod; roedd yr undeb ychydig dros ddeg oed; roedd yn ymladd i ddadwneud gafael yr NFU ar ffermwyr Cymru. Roedd hefyd yn gorfod ymladd yn erbyn y sefydliad, y llywodraeth a’r wasg.

Ni chai’r undeb ei chydnabod yn swyddogol, ac felly rhaid oedd ymladd am bob gwrandawiad gan lywodraeth ac am bob sylw yn y wasg leol a chenedlaethol. Ond roedd Meurig yn fwy nac abl i’r gwaith. Roedd ei ddycnwch a’i benderfyniad yn ffactorau oedd yn amlygu eu hunain dro ar ôl tro. Heb os roedd yn ddyn ei gyfnod, gyda’r tân a’r brwdfrydedd yn ennill tir i’r undeb, tra roedd yr NFU a’r wasg yn darogan mae byrhoedlog y byddai ei gyfnod yn Ninbych.

Bu’r blynyddoedd a gafodd yn gwasanaethu yn siroedd Dinbych a Fflint yn gyfnod o dyfu a datblygu sylweddol. Mae llu o hanesion ac atgofion gan lawer iawn o ffermwyr a chydweithwyr, a chofiaf glywed ganddo i ffermwyr o Ddyffryn Clwyd ddweud wedi ei gyfarfod am y tro cyntaf, y byddent yn medru gweithio gydag ef wedi dod i’w ddeall yn siarad! Dyna faint y dasg gyda rhai o blith yr NFU yn darogan y byddai’n dychwelyd i’r De ymhen wythnosau.

Er i Meurig ymddeol yn 1989, ni phallodd ei ddiddordeb na’i ymroddiad i’r undeb.

Roedd ei adnabyddiaeth o bobl ar hyd a lled Cymru yn ddihareb. Roedd ei bresenoldeb ym Mhafiliwn yr undeb ar faes y Sioe am dros 50 mlynedd yn dennu aelodau a chyfeillion i’r uned fel mêl i bot jam.

Roedd ei gyfarchiad trwy godi ei het oddi ar y gwallt gwyn trwchus a chyfarch y gwragedd gyntaf yn arddangos parch a ymddengys yn hen ffasiwn heddiw, ond yn parhau i weithio bob tro! Ac nid rhyw groeso oeraidd oedd croeso a chyfarchiad Meurig, ond un cynnes a chywir.

Cartrefodd yn Ninbych gyda’i briod Myfi. Lawer gwaith y talodd deyrnged i’w ddiweddar annwyl briod trwy ddatgan iddo briodi ddwywaith, Myfi a’r undeb, ac mae oherwydd llwyddiant y briodas gyntaf y bu iddo fod yn llwyddiannus yn yr ail briodas! Cafodd ei ordeinio yn flaenor yn y Capel Mawr yn Ninbych ac anrhydeddwyd ef gan yr Orsedd gyda’r wisg werdd. Cafodd hefyd ei ethol yn aelod am oes o’r undeb.

Bydd llawer ar hyd a lled Cymru yn gofidio colli cymeriad a chyfaill arbennig a chollodd yr undeb y côf a’r cysylltiad gyda chyfnod sefydlu’r undeb; ond mae’r golled fwyaf i’w deulu, i’w blant Rhian, Sharon a Huw a’r teuluoedd. Diolch am ei gwmni a’i gyfeillgarwch arbennig am dros ddeugain mlynedd, a diolch am y gwasanaeth arbennig a roddodd i Undeb Amaethwyr Cymru.

by Gwyn Williams, colleague and friend

MEURIG Voyle was a very special person to many of us. Meurig Voyle, Mr Voyle, Meurig and Voyle, but always the same special person. Wherever Meurig was, his huge personality overflowed, and whatever the task in hand, his enthusiasm and passion were infectious, with his fervent commitment to the cause of the Farmers’ Union of Wales.

I visited him at Llanrhaeadr during the recent Royal Welsh Show, spending the best part of two hours talking and discussing ‐ yes, the Farmers’ Union of Wales, and the fate of the industry in the present crisis.

Having served in the army, Meurig joined the Milk Marketing Board and then moved on to become FUW assistant county secretary in Carmarthenshire in 1961. He gained experience as a successful campaigner and fighter for just causes as secretary to the Gwendraeth Fach Defence committee; something he was very proud of. He was also influential in the formation of the Dyffryn Tywi Young Farmers Club.

In 1966 he was appointed county secretary of the Denbigh branch of the FUW, to be followed by the Flint branch in 1968. Meurig spent the reminder of his working life serving the farmers of Denbigh and Flint until his retirement in 1989.

We need to remind ourselves of the context of such an appointment and the time; the union was little more than 10 years old, was fighting to break the stronghold of the NFU in Wales. Meurig also had to fight the establishment, being government and press in particular.

The union was not an officially recognised union, and as a result had to fight for every hearing by government and for attention in the national and local press. But Meurig was more than able to tackle the challenge. His assiduity and determination were factors that came to the fore front time and time again. He was the man for that period, continuously gaining ground for the union, while the NFU and the press predicted his early exit from Denbigh.

The years spent serving the counties of Denbigh and Flint saw the union grow and develop under his baton.

There are numerous stories and memoirs from farmers and colleagues of the stride Meurig made. I personally remember him saying that farmers who had met him in the early days stated that they would be able to work with him, once they could understand his Welsh accent! The challenge was huge, with local members of the NFU predicting an early return within weeks to Carmarthenshire for Meurig.

Although he retired in 1989 his interest and commitment to the union never ceased. His knowledge of people the length and breadth of Wales and beyond will never be surpassed. His continued presence on the union’s Royal Welsh Show stand for over 50 years welcoming members and friends was infectious. His somewhat old fashion greeting was always to lift his hat and to give special attention to the ladies; but a greeting that always worked! Meurig’s welcome was always warm and sincere.

Meurig and the family made Denbigh their home. Many times he paid tribute to his late wife by implying he had married twice; Myfi and the union, and that the second marriage was only successful because of the success of his marriage to his dear Myfi. He was ordained a deacon at Capel Mawr in Denbigh and was honoured by the Eisteddfod Gorsedd with the green robe on his retirement. He was also elected as a life member of the FUW.

The length and breadth of Wales will be saddened to lose the character and special friend that Meurig was to so many. With the passing of Meurig the union has lost the history of the early years, for which he was part of; but that loss is insignificant compared to the loss to his family, especially Rhian, Sharon and Huw.

I will forever be grateful for his companionship and friendship over a period in excess of 40 years, and the union will salute the unrivalled service Meurig provided to the Farmers’ Union of Wales.

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