Monro Walters - a tribute
It has taken a full 24 hours for the death of our dear friend Monro Walters to sink in.
A man for all seasons - a voice for all occasions.
Monro's sudden death leaves a massive hole in the life of the community we call Llanelli.
It is hard to comprehend what Maxine and family are feeling. His departure was so swift that there is still a profound sense of disbelief.
I was proud and privileged to call Monro a friend.
But he was also much more - a committed professional, a wonderful colleague, a truly humble man with a lovely, warm and generous personality.
He had a laugh that could kick-start a chorus.
He could sing - but he could also inspire, inform and entertain just by being Monro and talking.
The voice was class.
Our last conversation was on Wednesday night.
As speaker's secretary for Llanelli Rotary Club, he was responsible for persuading Llanelli Scarlets rugby coach Wayne Pivac to perform as guest speaker at our weekly meeting.
Monro was unwell and unable to attend the meeting but was keen (in his usual professional manner) to make sure that everything went according to plan.
And, so, I was briefed on the plan for the evening - "make sure Wayne's looked after and it goes OK, Rob."
Our last text message exchange was Thursday morning, when Monro (still not well) was keen to make sure the evening had gone according to plan.
I'd recorded Mr Pivac's speech and he was keen to sit down to listen to the tape.
The next call I received on my mobile from 'Monro Home' was on Saturday morning, when Monro's wife Maxine broke the sad news.
Monro had been taken ill in the early hours of Saturday morning and had died shortly afterwards.
Just a week before Monro and I had been working on the Llanelli Talking Newspaper for the Blind (he was my vice-chair, trustee and a newsreader) and we'd been discussing plans for improving the service.
We'd also been chatting through possible opportunities in voiceover and narration work. We both felt that 'The Voice' had much more to contribute both in voiceover and compere work.
We'd often shared the stage at concerts and events - a wonderful opportunity which gave me the chance to build a great professional rapport with Monro.
Down the years, we'd shared a few adventures. Most notably, Monro carried the burden of being my room-mate on Côr Meibion Llanelli's North American tour during the 9/11 year of 2001.
That was a trip which provided us both with a suitcase full of after-dinner stories.
During the last 24 hours everyone I've spoken to has repeated the words - 'lovely guy, what a true gent, great voice, great guy'.
Monro was a committed Christian and a firm believer in the Rotary motto of 'service above self' - always going that extra mile to help his fellow man.
As a former PE physical education teacher, sport formed a very important of his life.
Family was a strong first, but sport was there in second.
As a young man, he played rugby, even making an appearance for the second team for Leicester Tigers.
But it is perhaps as the Voice of Stradey Park and the Voice of Parc y Scarlets that he will be best remembered.He was the man who provided the rich baritone commentary to some magical rugby moments.
Visitors to Parc y Scarlets will be well familiar with Monro’s distinct and distinguished delivery over the PA system.
He first started on the the PA system in 1995 when the Scarlets were at their old home at Stradey Park.
The former teacher and well-known local businessman covered many high profile matches in the Celtic Magners League and The European Heineken Cup.
He also worked on a Rugby World Cup game in 1999 between Argentina and Samoa.
During the 2004-2005 season, he handled the PA at the world famous Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on four occasions.
Two of those matches were international rugby matches played in November, 2004 – Wales v Romania and, two weeks later, Wales v Japan.
Monro also covered football internationals both at schools level (Wales v England at Under-15s) and at senior level, Wales v Luxembourg (Under-21s UEFA Championship) and Wales v Estonia.
In 2001, Monro joined Côr Meibion Llanelli Male Voice Choir on their prestigious three-week and six-city tour of the United States of America.
Monro sang in the second bass section and also acted as the narrator in themed concerts which reflected on the prose and poetry of Wales.
In 2007, Monro attended a training course for voice-overs with Voice Master Limited in London, run by former actor and current voice-over artist Steve Hudson.
Monro had provided Welsh-speaking voiceovers for a leading London-based agency.
His voice could also be heard on the information line for Carmarthenshire Theatres and at other venues up and down the land.
Of Parc y Scarlets, he once declared: "It is a wonderful place to work."
Monro grew up in Furnace in Stradey Road before the family moved to Hedley Terrrace, Llanelli.
Unusually, for a Llanelli boy, he attended the famous Queen Elizabeth Grammar School for Boys in Carmarthen, being one of a select group of 20 boys who travelled daily to Carmarthen by train.
After college, he taught at a secondary school in Lincoln and at a leading grammar school in Leicester.
In his teaching career, rugby was never very far away.
After teaching, he went to work for the Western Mail newspaper, selling advertising space.
After 10 years in the 'hot metal' of newspapers, he moved to work with Rank Hovis.
Later, he set up his own publishing and advertising business, working with local authorities, sports clubs and businesses throughout Wales.
His stint on the PA at Stradey Park began after the death of his father Glyn in March, 1995.
Glyn was a Stradey Park stalwart, widely admired for his own public address duties and the secretary of the Scarlets during the side's centenary year celebrations.
Looking back on the start of his public address career, Monro said, "Friends encouraged me to try and I was the only guy daft enough to have a go," he said.
"It's a no-win situation — if you make a mistake everybody hears it. But it is a great job."
Former baritone singer with Côr Meibion Llanelli Male Voice Choir, choir vice-president.
Member of the newsreading team at the Llanelli Talking Newspaper for the Blind, Vice chairman and a trustee of the Talking Newspaper Association.
Member of Holy Trinity Church, Pwll.
Stadium announcer for Llanelli Scarlets rygby region at Parc y Scarlets and Llanelli Reds football team at Stebonheath.
Member of Llanelli Rotary Club (joined 2011) and speaker's secretary for the club.
Monro lived in Pwll. He is survived by his wife Maxine and children Gethin, Rhys and Rhiannon. He was 69.
Read more: http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/Stadium-gig-Scarlets-mic-man/story-12443914-detail/story.html#ixzz3VkiPEg00
South Wales Evening Post story -
Llanelli's rugby fraternity is mourning the loss of Scarlets and Reds matchday announcer Monro Walters.
A minute’s silence will be observed this afternoon at Scarlets’ Guinness PRO12 fixture against Edinburgh Rugby at Parc y Scarlets today for the much-respected man.
The club has expressed "great sadness" at his passing.
A devoted Scarlet, Monro took charge of hundreds of games at both Stradey Park and Parc y Scarlets and introduced the recent memorial service in honour of former CEO Stuart Gallacher.
Mr Walters had been the voice of public address at Stradey Park since the mid 1990s following in the footsteps of his late father Glyn Walters.
He continued his work as match announcer when the Scarlets moved to Parc y Scarlets working alongside Andrew ‘Tommo’ Thomas.
In recent years, he also officiated public address at Stebonheath Park for Llanelli Town AFC as well as Wales international games at the Millennium Stadium.
As chairman of Llanelli Choral Society, Walters was raised in Hedley Terrace, Llanelli, and attended Carmarthen Grammar School. A teaching career beckoned in the Midlands before returning to Wales to work for the Western Mail.
Llanelli Star story -
Tribute on Scarlets website -
Tribute on Scarlets website -
It is with great sadness that we today announce the passing of Scarlets' matchday announcer Monro Walters.
Monro, a much-respected member of the community, had been the voice of public address at Stradey Park since the mid 1990s following in the footsteps of his late father Glyn Walters. He continued his work as match announcer when the Scarlets moved to Parc y Scarlets working alongside Andrew 'Tommo' Thomas.
A devoted Scarlet Monro took charge of 100s of games at both Stradey Park and Parc y Scarlets and introduced the recent memorial service in honour of former CEO Stuart Gallacher.
In recent years he also officiated public address at Stebonheath Park for Llanelli Town AFC as well as Wales international games at the Millennium Stadium.
Chairman of Llanelli Choral Society, Monro was raised in Hedley Terrace, Llanelli, and attended Carmarthen Grammar School. A teaching career beckoned in the Midlands before returning to Wales to work for the Western Mail.
A minute's silence will be observed at Scarlets' Guinness PRO12 fixture against Edinburgh Rugby at Parc y Scarlets today.
A few years back, I persuaded Monro to commit some of his memories to paper. Here's one story he came up with . . .
Rugby pitch, fever pitch, ‘perfect pitch’!
“Do the Anthem quickly, as I don’t want the boys getting cold!”
Those were my instructions, delivered in Welsh by the great Llanelli, Wales and British and Irish Lions winger Ieuan Evans.
The tongue-in-cheek ‘order’ was part of my final briefing in a physio’s room which doubled as a briefing office, half an hour before kick-off at a cold Stradey Park during early November 1995.
The Welsh speedster was getting ready to play in his Testimonial game at the famous old ground – a match between a British Isles XV and a Rest of the World team.
Stradey was full to the rafters (a sight to set the blood coursing through the veins). It was cold, yes. But it was dry and there was a bumper crowd of 13,500 at Stradey.
The Stradey faithful were entertained before the start by the Llanelli Town Band and Llanelli Male Choir (Cor Meibion Llanelli).
In my role as the PA (public address) announcer for the Scarlets it was always customary to prepare thoroughly for the match by learning how to identify players and pronounce their names (always an interesting task with participants from all four corners of the globe).
Preparations had gone well and I’d been handed the printed team sheet by Ieuan himself, resisting the temptation to get him to autograph it!
With everything in place, or so I thought, I made my way back to the PA Box at the back of the old stand at Stradey to start proceedings, keep the crowd informed and announce the teams.
Many of the world's leading rugby names were in town to help Ieuan celebrate, including the man they all wanted to see, Jonah Lomu, the famous New Zealand All Black winger.
It was a case of, so far, so good.
There was a delay in the kick-off to enable the large crowd to get in, but the teams eventually ran out to a rousing welcome and, after a brief warm-up, they quickly stood in line in readiness for the Welsh National Anthem.
I picked up the microphone and asked the crowd to stand for the anthem only to find the band and choir had left the field.
A hush descended on Stradey Park. The silence was deafening. The stage was set, but there was no director in the wings to say, “Cue music!”
Without thinking twice, I flicked the ‘on’ switch on the microphone and heard myself singing the opening bars of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau to a silent stadium.
Fortunately (for me!), the silence didn’t last and the crowd joined in to sing the anthem with plenty of typical Stradey passion.
I put the microphone down, let the crowd continue, silently wondering if the coronary care unit at the hospital was still open, my heart having missed more than a few beats.
The surprise ‘solo performance’ was noted and remarked upon the following evening at a rehearsal session for Cor Meibion Llanelli.
I ran the risk of sounding a little like the great Ray Gravell in asking, “Was I alright? Did it sound OK? Did I pitch it right? Was I too loud, too quiet?”
One choral colleague had no worries about denting the Walters ego; he stepped forward with a smile on his face and declared; “You’re a bottom bass. You pitched it too low, good boy.”
I still wonder: Did the other 13,499 in Stradey that night notice?
Monro Walters, PA Announcer for the Scarlets at Stradey Park and Parc y Scarlets since 1995.
Monro (The Voice) Walters and wife Maxine, mum and dad of groom @rhyswal , at their son's wedding reception.
Monro at the team at the memorable World War One commemoration concert staged at Greenfield Chapel, Llanelli, last year.
Monro and Maxine with fellow Rotarians and guests at Llanelli Rotary Club's St David's Day dinner this year.
Monro Walters at the funeral service for Llanelli Scarlets rugby legend Stuart Gallacher at Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli.
Monro Walters catching up on the news at a meeting of Llanelli Rotary Club earlier this year.
Blast from past - @rlloydpr & Monro (The Voice) Walters on Mount Evans (14,265ft) in The Rockies in 2001
Rupert Moon @RupertMoon
Very sad to hear of passing of @scarlets_rugby announcer Monro Walters - proud to have given him his @WelshRugbyUnion (announcers) Cap.
Rob Lloyd @RobLloyd2
Minute's silence impeccably observed at Parc y Scarlets for PA announcer Monro Walters.
David Greg Jones @DavidGregJones
Fitting tribute to Monro Walters in #ParcYScarlets @scarlets_rugby - he was a great man.
Carolyn Hitt @carolyn_hitt
Sad to hear of death of Monro Walters - the elegant and educated voice of @scarlets_rugby
Terribly sad news today. Let's win this game for Monro Walters today bois. #voiceofthescarlets
Rob McCusker @robmccusker
Unbelievably shocked and saddened by the passing of Monro Walters. A true gentleman who will be greatly missed by all @scarlets_rugby
NIGEL RICHARDS @nigelreds
Sad news to report. Llanelli mourns the passing of Scarlets and Reds announcer Monro Walters: RIP Monro! Great Guy!
Nick Parry @journalnick
Sad to read this. Proper gent. Tributes to Scarlets announcer Monro Walters: http://ow.ly/KUSKy "
Phil Steele @philsteele1
Very sorry to hear of death of @scarlets_rugby announcer Monro Walters - always looked forward to a chat with him at pitch side at PYS
Interview recorded for the Llanelli Talking Newspaper for the Blind in 2012 -