Wales politics

Rhodri Morgan funeral in Cardiff attended by hundreds

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Media captionA look back at Mr Morgan's funeral, described as a "celebration of his life through words, poetry and music"

Hundreds of people have paid their respects to former first minister Rhodri Morgan in a funeral at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.

Family and friends delivered tributes to the former Cardiff West AM and MP, reflecting his political and personal life, and his passion for sport.

Humanist celebrant Lorraine Barrett, who conducted the ceremony, said he was the "people's first minister".

The Senedd was at capacity, with crowds standing and sitting on steps outside.

Mr Morgan, who died earlier in May aged 77, served as the Welsh Assembly's first minister from 2000 to 2009.

He was credited with bringing stability to the fledgling assembly during his years in charge.

It is understood Mr Morgan had been out cycling near his home when he died.

About 500 people attended, with 360 inside the building.

Former Labour leader Lord Kinnock and former acting Labour leader Harriet Harman were among Mr Morgan's party colleagues attending, with Conservative Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns among those from other parties.

Ms Barrett is herself a former AM, having served between 1999 and 2011.

"He was the people's first minister and this is a people's ceremony," she said.

"He wouldn't want a police escort but sorry Rhodri, needs must.

"He wouldn't want any heavy mourning. This is a celebration of his life through words, poetry and music."

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Media captionRhodri Morgan's grandson Efan leads mourners in a version of Calon Lan

Tributes from family members included a rendition of Calon Lan by Mr Morgan's grandson Efan.

The former first minister's elder brother, Prys, recalled being unimpressed as a child when he first saw the family's new baby.

The university academic said: "When Rhodri came home from hospital, my response was chuck him over the garden wall. He can't speak.

"My father said it is your job to teach him to speak. I think you would all agree, he was my first and my most brilliant pupil."

Mr Morgan's daughter Mari said: "Maybe he was the father of devolution or the nation, I don't know, but what I do know is that he was our father and their grandfather and we are going to miss him hugely.

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Media captionDaughter Mari said Rhodri Morgan was, first and foremost, their father and grandfather

She described "an incredible childhood" with her "sport-obsessed" father.

"We couldn't have a sensible conversation with him during the Olympics, his mind was elsewhere," she said.

Kevin Brennan, a former special adviser to Mr Morgan who succeeded him as Labour MP for Cardiff West, said the London "establishment" never took to his "very Celtic way of communication".

"They seemed to think he was joking when he was serious and that he was serious when he was joking," he said.

Image caption Carwyn Jones: "A loss to the family, a loss to us all"

Carwyn Jones, who succeeded Mr Morgan as first minister, paid tribute to a man described as the "father of our nation" with Dylan Thomas's poem about the death of his father.

"Do not go gentle into that good night... rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Paul Murphy, who was elected as a Labour MP the same year as Mr Morgan, in 1987, said Mr Morgan "would talk to a head of state in the same way that he would talk to the humblest of constituents in Cardiff West".

The former Welsh and Northern Ireland Secretary called Mr Morgan an "intellectual giant" and a "renaissance man".

Sports journalist Carolyn Hitt said: "To say Rhodri liked sport is like saying Picasso liked picking up a paintbrush.

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Media caption'He was genuine, honest and sincere'

"It was a passion backed up by encyclopaedic knowledge," she said, describing him as "Google in human form".


Vale of Glamorgan AM Jane Hutt said Mr Morgan looked out to the wider world, with the Wales for Africa programme a "shining example of that".

She said Mr Morgan was a "formidable" leader and first minister, calling his impact on devolution "profound".

Musical tributes included folk songs by The Hennessys and Cor Cochion Caerdydd (Cardiff Reds Choir) singing Nkosi Sikelele, the anthem of the South African anti-apartheid movement which Mr Morgan had supported.

The ceremony ended with a rendition of the Welsh national anthem. The crowd applauded as Mr Morgan's coffin left the Senedd, followed by his family.

A service of committal will be held at the Wenallt chapel, Thornhill crematorium, Cardiff, on Thursday at 14:00.

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