‘There will never be another Wynne Davies’: farewell to one of the greats

  • By David Blair

    The equestrian world has lost one of its most respected and well-liked personalities with the death of Dr Davies of Ceulan Stud, aged 89. Known affectionately as Dr Wynne or “The Doc”, he has enriched the lives of so many.

    Ceulan Stud was started in 1915 by his father Mr ES Davies and Mr Davies became one of the most respected figures within the Welsh Pony and Cob Society (WPCS) with an unique interest in breeding. He kept remarkable records and his son Wynne developed the skill of detailed record-keeping. The “Ceulan Library” became legendary in the Welsh pony world.

    Having gained his PhD in chemistry at Aberystwyth University, Dr Davies taught in a secondary school, then at Llandaff College, later the University Of Wales Institute. His remit included enrolment and he often told that on a student recruiting drive in 1976 he had to visit Libya to negotiate with Col Gaddafi. He retired in 1989, having been head of chemistry and deputy head of department.

    With more time, Dr Davies expanded his involvement in the equine world. His name was already synonymous with the Welsh pony and cob in print; he started writing for H&H in 1951. In 1952 and 1953 he only reported on Welsh breed classes but from 1954, he reported on all equine classes, which he continued for 58 years, until his 80th birthday.

    His reports were in his distinctive style, logical and old-school with plenty of fact and opinion and little chat. They were always much awaited, acclaimed and respected. He shared his knowledge and interest of the Welsh breeds through many publications worldwide, and was immensely proud of the annual WPCS Journal, which he edited from 1992 until 2002.

    Dr Davies wrote 13 books, his first in 1976 on Welsh A and B champions featuring his own pencil drawing of a stallion’s head on the cover. More books on Welsh breeds and the WPCS followed, and his last book, in 2015, was his autobiography From the Horse’s Mouth.

    Dr Davies was given WPCS membership by his father in 1948 and he served on its council from 1955 for 52 years. He also served as publicity officer and president of the society.

    Modern parlance regularly makes use of “legend” or “legendary”, often without substance to back the claim. But no one could challenge it with regards to Dr Wynne, and his contribution to the WPCS.

    His other great interest was the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society (RWAS). He was elected onto the Glamorgan Advisory Committee in 1961 and remained a very loyal supporter until retiring this year.

    He developed the equine history of the RWAS with a particular interest in medals that had been awarded over the years, and many will recall his legendary – used wisely – commentary during classes and parades. In recognition of his service to the RWAS Wynne received the Sir Bryner Jones Award from Princess Anne at the 2002 show followed with honorary life governorship in 2003. Months before his death, he received honorary life vice- presidency of the society and the RWAS silver medal.

    Dr Davies many awards but the MBE presented to him at Buckingham Palace in 1995 by The Queen was one of his proudest moments. Another milestone was in April 1961, when he married Ruth, who lived up to the saying “Behind every great man is a great woman.” Mrs Davies welcomed the endless stream of visitors to Ceulan with the warmest smile and was a support like none other in their 57 years together until she died in 2018.

    Children David and Jane shared their parents’ interest in the Ceulan ponies and for the last couple of decades David has been gradually taking over from his father.

    Dr Davies had a great eye for a pony and had his own priorities when assessing them. He appreciated a pony with a “good front’” and free movement; he bred ponies always with an eye to their future use. The Royal Welsh is every Welsh pony and cob breeder’s yardstick and Dr Davies was no different. He first experienced this in 1947 while helping his father when they produced Dinarth What Oh to take the overall championship. In 1949 the female championship came their way with Coed Coch Serliw. More recently, the favourite of “the boss” was palomino Ceulan Cariad, who produced a dynasty of offspring that made Dr Davies smile, none more so than Calon Lan in 2008, who took HOYS qualification at the 2015 Royal Welsh. Mention of Ceulan Stud’s Royal Welsh successes would never be complete without mention of the progeny class which Dr Davies relished each year, winning a record 11 times.

    The death of Dr Davies was the end of a life filled to the brim with enthusiasm, willingness to help others, knowledge and generosity of time. His sense of humour and wit was well known and he was the master of exaggeration. He never lost track of being a born Cardi; there will not be many free lunches he missed!

    He was a remarkable person with undoubted ability and unique personality.There was no other nor will there ever be another Wynne Davies.

    Condolences are extended to David and Jane and their families.

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