Benjamin Lewis Davies (1943-2023)

Ben started work as the Head Porter at the College of Librarianship Wales (CLW) in Llanbadarn in December 1972. This was just after I was appointed as a Research Assistant at CLW. CLW had grown rapidly from its opening in 1964 to being one of the largest schools of librarianship in Europe with 38 full-time academic teaching staff and about 400 students by 1972.

The CLW campus, which was shared with another monotechnic the Welsh Agricultural College (WAC), was developed up the hill from its original home in Bronpadarn mansion, with the library, social block, teaching facilities and halls of residence. Ben, his wife and two young daughters moved in to a flat in the CLW academic block where they lived for many years. I remember the amazing smells of their supper being cooked as I left for home each evening.

As former Pro Vice Chancellor, John Harries, remembers from his days as a Warden of WAC Halls at Llanbadarn in the seventies: “Ben would often call at my flat first thing in the morning to report on the antics that the WAC students had got up to the night before. While he could provide chapter and verse on the misdemeanours, the names of the miscreants were harder to come by. As I got to know Ben better over the succeeding years, my early impression of him as a kind hearted and considerate individual was indeed confirmed - he would not have wanted to get the misbehaving students into trouble.”

Llanbadarn campus was one big family and Ben looked after all the staff and students.

When CLW an WAC became part of the University, Ben’s role changed to becoming the Head Security Officer at the Llanbadarn Campus in 1990. In 1995 he became the Assistant Hall Manager at Llanbadarn and then in 2000 he became the Night Manager for Residential and Hospitality Services at the University, a role he continued until his retirement in 2009.

Ben was a very community–minded person. He was a Councillor in Llanbadarn for over 40 years, the Chair of the Aberystwyth Citizen’s Advice Bureau, the Chair of Mentro Lluest, a School Governor and much more as well as being elected as the UNISON Union Steward at the University in 2005.  He regularly wrote a column on country life, often referring back to his upbringing on a farm in Talsarn, for the community newspaper Yr Angor. In 2019 he had the role of the University’s Principal in the shooting for Netflix’s The Crown, of the episode when King Charles was a student here in 1969.

As much as Ben enjoyed looking after students, especially all the overseas students that came to Llanbadarn each year for the International Graduate Summer Schools, he was a very caring and supportive family man nurturing his daughters, Sarah and Ann Marie, and his grandsons Tom and Owen. Ben died suddenly at his home in Llanbadarn in March 2023 and his funeral service was held in a packed Llanbadarn Church on Saturday 25 March. The singing was amazing especially the solo Myfanwy by Tom. As was said in his eulogy, Ben could talk to anyone about anything. He will be sorely missed.

Lucy Tedd, Emeritus Lecturer, Department of Information Studies