Welsh look for great thinkers

August 27, 2004

Physical beauty and prowess command ever-more respect in today's celebrity-obsessed world, but Glamorgan University is seeking to redress the balance by launching a poll to highlight the world's great thinkers.

Glamorgan got the ball rolling by asking leading public figures whom they would nominate as their "Great Thinker".

Peter Hain, Secretary of State for Wales, nominated Nelson Mandela. He said: "His selfless example in the face of a tyrannical regime and his curial role in the creation of the new South Africa puts him in a class above."

Kim Howells, the former Lifelong Learning Minister and now Minister for Transport, said: "I'd probably go for Jack Kerouac whose novel On The Road made a Penywaun teenager ache to experience the great world and its art beyond the confines of the Cynon Valley."

Jon Owen Jones, MP for Cardiff Central, chose Charles Darwin. He said: "As a 15-year-old, I realised the 'truths' held by eminent elders conflicted with evidence. It's a lesson I've never forgotten."

Wayne David, MP for Caerphilly, opted for Dai Smith, Glamorgan's pro vice-chancellor. Mr David said: "He is one of the most clear-thinking, knowledgeable and inspiring individuals I have come across and his views on modern Welsh history have influenced my own outlook."

Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West, named Bill Frost of Tenby, who applied for his patent for a flying machine in 1894. "He went to his death swearing blind that his design for an inflatable dirigible with wings had flown, but there was no record of it."

* To nominate a thinker and stand a chance of a winning prize, visit www.glam.ac.uk . The closing date is September 10.

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