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By Darien Jay:
My great-grandfather, Evan David John was born on 15th June 1909, the son of Phillip and Eleanor John (née Davies), in Pontardawe, where he lived his whole life.
Growing up in the South Wales valleys it was almost inevitable that his career would be tied to the mining industry. However Evan spent the majority of his working life not in the pits himself but rather as a champion of the miners' rights and the wider left wing cause. Having held senior rank in the National Union of Mineworkers, including sitting on the Executive Committee, Evan was well affiliated with many of the key socialist political figures of the time, including former Labour MP for Pontypridd Kim Howells, National Vice-President of the NUM Mick McGahey and VP of the South Wales NUM Terry Thomas.
Evan died on 21st September 1986 and, as a lifelong Communist Evan's funeral did not follow any of the traditional religious overtones that one might traditionally expect. One attendee claimed that the ceremony felt different in many ways, with senior Party and NUM figures delivering speeches instead of sermons and hymns.
Evan is referenced in Hywel Davies's 'The Fed’ and is pictured alongside three Russian poets in ‘Do Miners Read Dickens’ by Hywel Davies and Sian Williams. He remains fondly remembered by his family.