We always love hearing from members of the #WorldWideWelsh community and we love sharing your stories. We were therefore delighted to hear from Alwyn ‘Taffy’ Parry over in New Zeland, who has just released his latest book ‘A Brush With Love, Life & Laughter’ which shares his own story of growing up in North Wales in the 40’s and 50’s and ending up in New Zeland. We decided to organise an interview with Alwyn to learn more.
First of all Alwyn, tell us a bit about where you grew up
I was raised in Caernarfon. The book itself shares the whole story but I lived on a street of terraced houses in this small town in North Wales. The castle is one of its most famous landmarks and I lived there in the 40’s and 50’s. My Father, like many men at the time, was a local Quarryman.
What memories do you have of your time here in Wales?
Part of my heart will always be in Wales. I left at the age of 16, 72 years ago! I love the Welsh language and can still speak Welsh but the language has evolved a lot. I also have fond memories of enjoying a Noson Lawen in a pub or two!
Why did you leave Wales?
During my youth there were very few opportunities for employment in Wales and I didn’t help matters with my abysmal school results! My first job was in London with the Board of Trade but it didn’t take me long to realize that I didn’t want to spend my life there. I first applied to go to the then Rhodesia as a policeman when I was about 18 but my father and his solicitor friend managed to torpedo that move. So, at the age of 21 I paid 25 pounds and boarded the SS northern Star for a 6 week journey to New Zeland to join the public service there. I have lived here ever since except for about 18 months or so when I joined my NZ friends to do my overseas experience… in the UK!!!
Before leaving NZ, I had left the public service and had a job as a salesman covering the lower half of the North island …they had not asked me if I could drive and so when I was given the job I had only three driving lessons and I was off!! From that beginning and my return from my overseas experience, I started a plastics company with my then wife. It became one of the biggest of its kind which I eventually sold and retired at the age of 38.
Waw! That’s an incredible achievement.
Yes! The story of my entrepreneurial achievement is well documented in my eBOOK on Amazon – The Quarryman’s son.
So, what have you been up to since you retired?
Many things! In the last 17 years I have become single and have written several books. One named Tommy Tui’s Journey, which sold 2000 copies without the help of a publisher! I hope they inspire others to write and share their stories. I took up photography and in the past three years taken up painting somewhat naive pictures of my childhood, you can find examples in my latest book ‘A Brush with Love, Life & Laughter’. Apart from that I lead a quiet life!
Tell us a bit more about where you live in New Zeland
I live about 20 kms north of the capital Wellington, surrounded by about 500 acres of bush (5 only) are mine! I am fortunate enough to be able to gaze over the Cook Straits towards Kaikoura and its snow-capped mountains which are 80 kms away.
There’s a strong connection between Wales and New Zeland. How much do they know about Wales?
New Zealanders are well travelled and naturally Wales is regarded fondly due to its rugby prowess. Unfortunately, few travel further than Cardiff and their experience is therefore limited. There are of course a large number of pomes and many are most conversant with the Welsh. Most are still unaware of the Welsh language.
What inspired you to write?
I have been writing most my life as I spent much of it in marketing and designing products, some of which entailed writing manuals etc. I have published three books (the 4th was lost when a burglar pinched the computer!!) one Is out of print the other available on Amazon and the third is available on PDF format and I’m happy for you to share that amongst your Wales International Members. I’ve decided not to waste further what little life is left seeking a publisher and am distributing it to people in pdf form hoping that it might encourage others to write their own stories for their families.
Diolch yn fawr – a massive thank you to Alwyn for sharing his fascinating story with us and don’t forget to check out his books to learn more about his adventures and his successes. We look forward to sharing the PDF with our members. If you haven’t joined us yet visit https://walesinternational.cymru/en/membership/ and join our ever growing international family – you’ll receive a warm welcome. If you’re joining as an individual, you will also receive lots of special offers from our partners!
If you would like to share a story with our #WorldWideWelsh community, email us on [email protected].
Heulwen Davies, Wales International.