Gareth Bowen: Ex-BBC Wales journalist dies aged 86

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Media captionGareth Bowen was one of the first reporters at the scene of the Aberfan disaster

The "distinguished" former BBC Wales journalist, Gareth Bowen, has died at the age of 86 after a long illness.

A reporter and later news editor, he was in charge of BBC Radio Wales' news coverage in the 1970s and 1980s.

He was one of the first reporters at the scene of the Aberfan disaster 50 years ago.

His son Jeremy, the Middle East editor of BBC News, said his father's reports from the disaster were "still very powerful".

Director of BBC Wales, Rhodri Talfan Davies, said Gareth Bowen would be remembered as one of Wales' most "distinguished and incisive radio journalists".

He added: "He played a vital role in the development of BBC Wales's news services over more than three decades as a reporter, producer and editor.

"His intense professionalism, coupled with a deep commitment to Wales and its people, was typified by his broadcasts from the Aberfan disaster 50 years ago this year."

The son of a steelworks clerk, Gareth Bowen was born in Merthyr Tydfil and moved to Cardiff as a child, attending Cardiff High School for Boys, where he was Head Boy.

He studied English at University College Cardiff and served in the Welsh Regiment during his national service.

He started a career in journalism in newspapers, initially covering showbusiness and sport.

He became editor of the national Sunday newspaper, the Empire News, when he was still in his 20s and met his wife Jennifer when he was working for the Western Mail and Echo.

Mr Bowen joined BBC Wales in Park Place in Cardiff in 1964, at first for the BBC External Service (now the World Service) later becoming editor of the Good Morning Wales programme.

In the 1970s he was appointed editor of Radio Wales news.

After his retirement, he continued to broadcast part-time for BBC Wales.

He is survived by his wife Jennifer, their five children; Jeremy, Nick, Matthew, Brigid and Charlotte and ten grandchildren.

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