I wish that W. J. Pate had said more about himself in this history of the YMCA in Wales, but it is typical of his innate modesty that the important part he played for over forty years is glossed over, while he is careful to give full credit to very many of the sturdy band of devoted workers, lay and professional, who provided this inspired form of practical Christian witness in our country from 1852 onwards. His own role is barely mentioned; this modesty combined with a quiet friendly persistence of purpose and a buoyant faith were characteristic of the man.
I can remember him from my childhood in Ton Pentre, Rhondda, when he was a student at Cheshunt College, Cambridge, and coming home during vacations. I was friendly as a boy with two of his younger brothers and was fascinated by his parents - his father, a man of powerful physique, a noted quoits player as a young man, and sustained by a simple Christian faith; his mother was a good example of a Rhondda housewife at her supreme best, a
careful manager of limited resources, deportment, modest, quietly cultivated
deft with her needle, and in , dignified and full of grace -
qualities which W. J. inherited to the full.
He left primary school to work in the mine and had personal experience of the 1904/5 revivalist prayer meetings held at the pit bottom. This experience and the encouragement he received from his Minister at the time, of Bethesda, Ton, the Rev. Joseph James, prompted him to study for the
Christian ministry and to offer himself eventually Society. The sudden death of his friend and fellow same mission field, while they were both in France order to work in Madagascar delayed this plan, the further complicated by the outbreak of war in 1914
to the London Missionary student, intent on the acquiring French in realisation of which was . The outcome was that
W.J. Pate found himself engaged in various army canteens run by the YMCA which led to his joining this organisation on a permanent footing at the end of the war.
For the next forty four years he was the mainstay of YMCA work in Wales, with his emphasis always, it seemed to me, on education, particularly of young people. For that reason I suppose one of the activities which gave him most satisfaction was the establishment and building over a period of five years, of Coleg y Fro, Rhoose, which sadly the YMCA has been compelled, by changed conditions, to sell as a building site.
W. J. Pate's whole account of the work accomplished by the YMCA in Wales since 1852 is suffused with his friendly charitable Christian grace and his indefatigable faith in the social gospel to the practical expression of which he devoted his life. Furthermore I am inclined to the view that he intended this account not so much for publication as a book as for internal circulation among those actively interested and engaged in the work. As such it is inspiring and it provides a body of information upon which a student of the social history of Wales in the last hundred years can rely and can safely draw.
His own buoyant active Christian faith comes through to the reader on each page and I am privileged to have been asked to write this preface.