A PACKED room of family and friends gave an emotional send-off to the “man of Oakdale” Allan Pritchard yesterday.
Around 500 people attended the funeral of the former Plaid Cymru leader at Caerphilly council, who died earlier this month aged 71 following a brief battle with cancer.
His casket, adorned with the Welsh flag and daffodils, made its way through crowds of mourners at the Maes Manor Hotel in Blackwood, surrounded by his wife Pauline, his two daughters, Kailey and Rhayna, and his three grandchildren.
It was decided that the funeral service would be held at the Maes Manor Hotel due to the number of people expected to attend. It was followed by cremation at the Gwent Crematorium in Cwmbran, before refreshments at Oakdale rugby club.
The service, officiated by Claire Mountain, began with the singing of ‘Calon Lân’, before finishing with a rendition of the Welsh national anthem, ‘Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’.
In a moving tribute, Caerphilly AM Lindsay Whittle said his dear friend was a proud Welshman who “had it all”.
He said Mr Pritchard was an accomplished guitarist, a great poet, but above all “a great family man”.
He added: “When the history of Wales will be written, some of us might get a word, some a line, some even a paragraph. But there will be pages for people like Allan. Sleep well my dear friend - cysgwch yn dawel.”
Mr Pritchard was also a rugby enthusiast and a former captain of Tredegar, Blackwood, Oakdale and Monmouthshire County (Gwent).
Members of Oakdale rugby club were among the audience members, which also included the Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner Ian Johnston, who was a close friend of Mr Pritchard.
Mr Pritchard remained heavily involved with the Oakdale Silver Band up until his last days. The band’s principal euphonium, Terry Wells played a solo of ‘Going Home’ at the service, to the applause of a crowded room.
Jeff Jones, secretary of Oakdale Silver Band, whose music accompanied both 'Calon Lân' and the national anthem, said: “Allan was our president for over 20 years. He was very involved and a great stalwart. Any problem we had we would go to Allan – he was the one responsible for getting us a rehearsal room at the Oakdale Presbyterian Church. He was an inspiration.”
Mr Pritchard found work as an underground mining trainee in 1957 at the age of 15 with the National Coal Board.
He then went on to be elected as a councillor on the former Islwyn Borough Council in 1979. He left the authority due to work commitments in 1991 but after the formation of Caerphilly County Borough Council, decided to stand again in 1999 and won back his old Penmaen ward seat.
When Plaid took control of the authority in 1999, he was elected deputy leader and was responsible for personnel and modernisation.
In 2008, he again became deputy leader and cabinet member for Human Resources and Constitutional Affairs, but lost his seat in the 2012 elections.
The Caerphilly county borough flag at the council’s headquarters was being flown at half mast on February 13, as a mark of respect.
Tributes were also paid to Mr Pritchard at a recent council meeting by members across the political spectrum.