Like many people, I was very sad to hear that Harry Andrews of Gilfach had passed away. I had the privilege of knowing Harry since before I became the MP for Caerphilly, and after my election I got to know him very well.
Harry was born and brought-up in Gilfach and, as the local councillor for over 40 years, he represented the community he knew and loved with honesty and diligence. I well remember going to see Harry at his home only to be told by his wife, Doreen, that Harry was “up the school”. I then went to Gilfach Fargoed Primary School and there was Harry painting the school fence. He told me I was lucky to catch him because he had been out picking litter. That was typical of Harry. He always did that bit extra for the community.
Throughout his life one of Harry’s great commitments was the Bargoed YMCA. For years the YMCA in Bargoed has been at the centre of the community and Harry, since a young man, was at the heart of the YMCA. Whatever event or activity at the YMCA, Harry would be present or supportive behind the scenes. He deserved to be Life President of the YMCA and there is no doubt that he will be missed.
For a short time, Harry was the Leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council. During a difficult period he led the Council with honesty and integrity. And even though Harry was a Labour man through and through, both in the community and in the council, Harry never made “enemies”. He believed that everyone, no matter what their views, should be respected and listened to. In this, as in so much more, he led by example.
In many ways, Harry was a “one off”. I believe that he epitomised all that was good in public service and he richly deserved to be awarded an MBE. He will be remembered with affection and gratitude by the many people who he worked with and helped, and I am sure that he will serve as a “model” for others to follow.