Huw Edwards joins Merthyr Tydfil historic synagogue’s Jewish heritage project

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Huw Edwards joins Merthyr Tydfil historic synagogue’s Jewish heritage project

BBC presenter tells Jewish News: “I am honoured to be a patron of this exciting project to preserve and bring back into use the striking grade II listed Victorian synagogue.”

Huw Edwards
Huw Edwards

News anchor Huw Edwards has agreed to become the patron of a Welsh synagogue which could be restored with National Lottery money.

The journalist, a devout Christian who has written about his homeland’s treasured churches, has agreed to become a Patron of the project to transform the grade II listed former synagogue in Merthyr Tydfil in Wales into a Welsh Jewish Heritage Centre.

Merthyr Tydfil synagogue

The 60-year-old joins former Google director Sir Michael Moritz and comedian and writer David Baddiel as the latest patron of this project, developed by the Foundation for Jewish Heritage.

Edwards told Jewish News: “I feel honoured to be a patron of this exciting project to preserve and bring back into use the striking grade II listed Victorian synagogue in Merthyr Tydfil, which is an important Welsh landmark building.”

The structure is the oldest purpose-built synagogue still standing in Wales.

Edwards, born in Bridgend and raised in Llangennech, Carmarthenshire, joined the BBC as a trainee in 1984, and has been reading the Ten O’clock News since 2006.

He has been the BBC’s chief political correspondent and has also reported for Panorama and Newsnight.

The BAFTA award winner also covered the death of Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, the inauguration of Barack Obama and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

In 2012, the proud Welshman presented The Story of Wales for the BBC. A series on the South Wales valleys included ‘The Merthyr Valley: Lessons from the Past’.

He is currently vice-president of the National Churches Trust and Patron of Addoldai Cymru – the Welsh Religious Buildings Trust.

He has campaigned for the upkeep and restoration of Welsh places of worship, including the Jewin Welsh Presbyterian Chapel in London which features in his 2014 book City Mission: the story of London’s Welsh chapels.

Merthyr Tydfil Synagogue

The Gothic revival synagogue was built by a community established in 1848 – when Merthyr Tydfil was the largest town in Wales.

Its 1855 building was replaced with the surviving synagogue building in 1877. The congregation had 27 head-of-household members in 1900 – 10 years ago it had four.

The synagogue was closed in the 1980s and was sold to became the Merthyr Christian Centre. For a time it became a gym.

The Foundation for Jewish Heritage bought it in 2019 and carried out urgent repairs in 2020. In 2021, a detailed business plan became part of an application for funding to the National Lottery Heritage Fund – submitted in February this year. A decision is expected at the end of June.

Michael Mail, Chief Executive of the Foundation added: “The Foundation is delighted that someone of the prominence of Huw Edwards has agreed to serve as a patron of our special Merthyr Tydfil synagogue heritage centre project.

“Huw Edwards is a leading personality in Wales and indeed across the UK, and a major champion of Welsh culture and the cause of heritage preservation. This is a major boost to our efforts to save Merthyr synagogue to serve the local community and wider Welsh society.”

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