Jimmy Carter to welcome visitors to Dylan Thomas house

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BBC Wales archive report on Jimmy Carter's visit to Swansea in 1995.

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Former US President Jimmy Carter, a lifelong Dylan Thomas fan, is to lend his voice to welcome visitors to the poet's Swansea birthplace.

He will introduce a new audio-visual tour at No 5, Cwmdonkin Drive which has been restored by a couple who say they are "mad about Dylan's writings".

Anne and Geoff Haden will meet Carter in Atlanta, Georgia next week.

In 1995, President Carter opened Ty Llen, now the Dylan Thomas Centre.

He and his wife visited Swansea, which was hosting the UK Year of Literature, of which he was honorary patron.

The former president said then: "For 45 years I have had an affinity for Dylan Thomas's poetry and in my opinion he is one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century.

"I bought all his books and records and remember reciting his poems to my children until they memorised them."

Message of support

Start Quote

This is not a museum but a living house in a lovely area where people can explore, enjoy and perhaps be inspired by Dylan”

End Quote Anne Haden

He was also instrumental in getting a memorial plaque erected to Thomas in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey in 1982.

During their US trip, the Hadens will present President Carter with a bust of the poet made in preparation for a full-size statue being put up close to his birthplace ahead of his centenary in 2014.

The couple say the statesman has been behind their restoration of the Edwardian No 5 Cwmdonkin Drive in Uplands, Swansea, sending them a message of support when they began in 2005.

Thomas was born in the front bedroom in October 1914, a couple of months after the family moved in.

A tour around Dylan Thomas' home

But now it is open for tours and holiday stays.

"This is not a museum but a living house in a lovely area where people can explore, enjoy and perhaps be inspired by Dylan.

"We organise events in the house and there is nothing better than when it is full of words, people and music.

"We completed the restoration without the aid of public funds so the support of President Carter - a long time Dylan admirer - and other Dylan enthusiasts make it all worthwhile."

During their US visit, the Hadens will also travel to New York to visit places made famous by Thomas during speaking tours before his death on 9 November, 1953, aged 39.

Dylan Thomas The Hadens are to discuss a statue of Dylan Thomas being erected in New York

While there they discuss the potential for a statue of the Welsh poet in Central Park or Greenwich Village.

President Carter's intervention during his 1977 UK trip calling for Dylan Thomas to be recognised at Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey resulted in a memorial plaque.

A service is held there every year on the Saturday closest to the date of Thomas's death, and this year it takes place at 11:00 GMT on 12 November.

Carter is not the only Dylan Thomas fan among former US presidents.

Bill Clinton, during a visit to the Hay literary festival in Powys outlined his admiration for the poet, who is still one of Wales' most famous names.

In 2008, Carter, now in his mid 80s, followed in Clinton's footsteps when he too was a speaker at the literature festival.

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