A LEADING figure in the promoting the South Wales Valleys across the world has been commemorated with a park bench at a museum where he was the director for many years.

The dedicated bench was unveiled in memory of tourism leader Mick Payne, who died in April last year after a short illness, has been installed at the Rhondda Heritage Park Mining Museum near Pontypridd where he was previously a long-serving project manager and director.

The bench was officially unveiled by Peter Andrews, Bailli of the Ordre des Chevaliers Bretvins Bailliage du Pays de Galles, an organisation dedicated to the wine, food and culture of Brittany of which Mick was an enthusiastic member.

A dedicated professional who promoted the region worldwide, Mick was regarded as a true gentleman and committed family man renowned for his sense of humour.

Peter Cole, Regional Strategy Director of South East Wales tourism partnership Capital Region Tourism, said: "Following his appointment at Rhondda Heritage Park in 1992, Mick worked tirelessly to turn the venue into a thriving attraction and to put the South Wales Valleys on the tourist map, breathing new life into a region that was faced with the rapid disappearance of traditional industries.

"After retiring as Director in 2001, Mick continued his mission and gave his time and experience to key tourism groups in Wales.

"This included roles as Chair of Wales Association of Visitor Attractions, Chair of Southern Wales Attraction Partnership and most recently, Chair of Capital Region Tourism. I am sure the bench will be appreciated by people visiting the park for many years to come."

John Harrison, current Director at Rhondda Heritage Park said: "We are delighted to have received the memorial bench in memory of Mick. It is a fitting tribute to the exceptional work that Mick put into the park and the South Wales Valleys area."

The bench was purchased with donations from Chevaliers Bretvins with assistance from Capital Region Tourism.