Tributes to Wrexham community stalwart Gwynne Belton

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TRIBUTES have been paid to a much-loved teacher, magistrate, tireless charity fundraiser and sportsman from Wrexham.

A funeral service for Gwynne Belton will take place on Thursday, May 19 at 1.30pm in Wrexham Parish Church and 2.30pm at Pentrebychan Crematorium.

Mr Belton, who was 73, died in Wrexham Maelor Hospital on April 26. He leaves a wife, Gloria, daughters Jayne and Helen and sister Jean.

Mr Belton was born in Coedpoeth in 1937, the son of Bob and Hilda Belton, and was educated at Penygelli School and Grove Park, Wrexham.

On leaving school he became a civil servant, working for the Ministry of Aviation in London before being called up for National Service.

He spent his two years in the Royal Air Force at Cardington and Lichfield and on leaving, studied at the Normal College in Bangor.

He began his teaching career in Wallasey before moving to Moreton, Wirral and then in 1962 to Brynteg Secondary Modern School.

He joined St David’s School in Rhosnesni in 1967 and was a pillar of the teaching staff there for more than a quarter of a century.

He taught history and, after the introduction of comprehensive education in 1972, served as head of Tryfan house.

In 1986, he was appointed head of careers education, a role that involved not only teaching, but also securing work experience for several hundred pupils each year.

Mr Belton was involved with many organisations, ranging from Wrexham FC, where he was a talent scout for a period during the 1960s, to Wrexham Round Table
which he chaired in 1977-78, the 41 Club and, latterly, the Rotary Club of Wrexham.

Mr Belton was a fine all-round sportsman. In his youth he had played football, cricket and table-tennis to a high standard and competed at county, RAF and college level in athletics.

He was a long-standing member of Wrexham Golf Club and the Cunliffe Bowls Club until ill-health forced him to give up playing. He also played darts and snooker on an informal basis.

During the 1980s and 1990s, as a member of the Wrexham Evening Leader and Coedpoeth quiz leagues, he found an interest which combined his thirst for knowledge with his competitive instinct.

In 1981, Mr Belton was appointed a Justice of the Peace on the Wrexham Maelor bench, a role he fulfilled for 26 years.

He was passionately interested in music and was a keen volunteer worker at Llangollen International Eisteddfod for many years.

Close friend Alister Williams said: “Gwynne Belton’s place in society was very much as a giver rather than a taker. There was nothing he would not do to help others, but rarely did he seek help himself. This approach to life was typified by the stoic way he continued to work for various charities while playing down his own health difficulties right up until his passing last week.

“He was, above all, a very dear friend to many.

“There is an old saying that if you want something done, find somebody who is busy and they will do it.

“That was certainly true of Gwynne, who always managed to find the time for everyone who needed a hand or was fundraising for one of many charities.

“The Christie Hospital (Manchester), Nightingale House and Rotary Club’s Wateraid project will be only three of numerous charitable bodies that will mourn his passing.”

Mr Williams added: “Wherever he went, he came into contact with former pupils whose lives he had touched with his kindness and generosity.

“He was not a man who left the worries and cares of teaching behind in the classroom at the end of the day, but involved himself in every aspect of his pupils’ well-being and the life of the school where he worked.

“His family has been deeply moved by the many former pupils who have been in touch during the past few days to acknowledge the debt they owed to a remarkable teacher.”

Regarding Mr Belton’s role as a magistrate, Mr Williams said: “Many a miscreant has been fortunate to have his or her case heard before a bench chaired by such a thoughtful and sympathetic magistrate who had a true understanding of the many problems they may have encountered.”

Albert Ellison, president of Erddig Rotary Club, said: “Our thoughts at this time are with Gloria and the family.”

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