Tributes paid to Garden trustee

John Ellis, vice-chairman of the board of trustees at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, has died.

Mr Ellis, 78, from Llanddarog, near Carmarthen, had been a volunteer at the garden for more than 20 years. He became a Garden trustee in 1995 – four years before it opened – at the request of the then chief executive, William Wilkins.

John was awarded an OBE in last year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Garden director, Huw Francis said: “This is very sad news. John had not been well for a while but he fought hard to maintain his usual high level of passion and commitment.”

Mr Francis added: “He will be sorely missed here at the Garden where the impact of his unstinting efforts and hard work, over many years, cannot be underestimated.”

Born in Abergynolwyn in Meirionnydd, Mr Ellis – a first language Welsh speaker – was a pupil at Towyn Grammar School before studying for a Geography degree at Swansea University. A career in teaching took him to Bristol, the West Midlands and Warwickshire before returning to Wales to work for the Swansea local education authority. After a spell with West Glamorgan LEA, Mr Ellis was appointed deputy director of education in Dyfed and was then made director in 1990.

He took early retirement in 1996 just prior to local authority reorganisation.

Since then, as well as his unstinting efforts for the Botanic Garden, Mr Ellis volunteered for the charity Dolen Cymru Lesotho, which helps orphans in the southern Africa kingdom; was a founder member of Menter Cwm Gwendraeth; and was an ambassador for the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

Mr Ellis is survived by his two children and six grandchildren. He was married to Miriam for 48 years before she passed away in 2008.