Above Peter Clarke
PETER CLARKE, the Children's Commissioner for Wales, died yesterday following a long battle with cancer.
Mr Clarke, 58, who became the first person in the UK to hold such a role, was last night hailed as a "pioneer" and an "inspiration" by colleagues and politicians.
In addition to establishing the office of Children's Commissioner, he will perhaps be best remembered for setting up the Clywch inquiry into child sex abuse by Welsh writer and teacher John Owen.
First Minister Rhodri Morgan said, "I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Peter Clarke.
"Peter was very much a pioneer. Not only was he Wales' first Children's Commissioner, he was also the first to hold such a post in the UK. He had the difficult job of establishing the office of Children's Commissioner from scratch and worked tirelessly to develop his demanding role as champion of the rights of children and young people. He always placed the highest importance on listening to the views of children and young people and making sure that their voices were heard, and responded to, particularly by government at all levels.
"He could sometimes be tough and demanding as a champion for children but that was his job. He always fulfilled his duties with passion, dedication and commitment. He blazed a trail for others to follow. He made an enormous contribution to the lives of children and young people in Wales in the past six years and many thousands have benefited, and will benefit in the future, from his work.
"On behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government and the people of Wales, I send deepest sympathies to his wife and sons."
Llandudno-born Mr Clarke took up post as Children's Commissioner on March 1, 2001. He was previously director of Childline Cymru/Wales, a position he held for over five years. Before that he had moved back to Wales in the early 1990s to become Director in Wales of the National Schizophrenia Fellowship.
A social worker by profession, he lived in Carmarthenshire with his wife and two sons.
His family were at his side when he died shortly after 6am yesterday.
Maria Battle, Acting Children's Commissioner, said, "It is with great sadness that we have had to say goodbye to Peter, who established this organisation and worked so tirelessly to improve the lives of our children and young people.
"We all took strength from the tremendous courage that Peter showed in the face of his illness and from his continued determination to speak up for Wales' children and young people. He has inspired his staff to take his vision forward.
"For those of us who had the privilege of knowing him and of working with him, it will be no surprise to know that up until the end his thoughts were of the children and young people of Wales.
"We offer our deepest, heartfelt condolences to Peter's wife Jenny and his sons Liam and Bryn. His devotion and love for his family was always clear."
An online remembrance board was yesterday being planned in Mr Clarke's memory.
Among his most lasting legacies will undoubtedly be his role in setting up the long-running Clywch inquiry after John Owen, author of S4/C school drama series Pam Fi Duw?, committed suicide in 2001 before he could be brought to trial on charges of indecent assault.
The findings of the public inquiry, which described how Mr Owen abused pupils over two decades, called for big changes in the protection available for children.
Assembly Education Minister Jane Davidson last night paid tribute to a commissioner who would be "a hard act to follow" while Assembly Children's Minister Jane Hutt described Mr Clarke as an "authoritative voice" for children's rights.Source: icWales