OVER several decades, a series of books, and hundreds of articles and drawings in the South Wales Argus, historian, artist and headmaster Fred J Hando became something of a household name in his beloved Gwent.

Now his first cousin (once removed) – president of Newport County AFC, retired teacher, and former Newport councillor – David Hando, has himself gone into print to tell the story of his ‘Uncle’ Fred.

‘Uncle’ as Fred Hando always referred to himself as Uncle Fred and, said David, “who was I to argue?”

It is among many stories and anecdotes David Hando tells, in print and conversation, with a warmth illus-trating a deep affection for a man whose work as a teacher at Maindee School and later as headmaster at Hatherleigh Central School, also in Newport, shaped the lives of generations of boys and girls.

“The launch of my book (last month, at St Julians Methodist Church) was attended by, among others, three authors, two poets, a judge, and a number of ex-Hatherleigh pupils, one of whom discharged himself from hospital to be there,” said David.

“Another was a lady of 94 who brought along her school report, of which she was very proud.”

Fred J Hando was awarded an MBE in 1953 for services to education and to Monmouthshire, and by then his words and drawings had been a regular feature in the Argus for 30 years, as they would be until just days before his death, in February 1970.

These are generously represented in David Hando’s book, Fred J Hando, A Proud Son of Gwent, which contains examples of Fred’s drawings of local landmarks, the area’s more out-of-the-way places, and the covers of – and a chapter from – each of his books.

“He had a great appreciation of the beauty of the countryside, prompted by his experiences in France (in the Royal Engineers) during the First World War, and seeing the devastation in Flanders,” said David.

“He tried to encourage people to appreciate what he called “the little places of a shy county”. He was passionate about, and fascinated by, Gwent. He loved the countryside, and he loved Newport.”

“This has been a labour of love for me, and I wanted to tell his story using his words as much as possible, and including examples of his work.”

* Fred J Hando, A Proud Son of Gwent, is available, priced £14.50, by contacting David Hando on 01633 413166.

South Wales Argus:

One of Fred J Hando's columns for the Argus:

South Wales Argus: