A FORMER teacher who took up painting after retirement, has now published his debut book in his 80s.

‘Valley Boy’ is a semi-autobiographical account of Harry Young’s life growing up in the south Wales valleys, informing the reader of what life was like in the 1940s and early 1950s in a small Welsh coal mining community.

Published last month, the book comes after former teacher and lecturer Harry, from Builth Wells, raised £500 in 2020 for the Wales Air Ambulance from sales of 2021 calendars featuring his paintings – a hobby he took up after retiring in 2013.

Valley Boy describes the life of a boy born into a coal mining family and traces his life experiences from the age of three up until he leaves primary school in the village to pursue secondary education a few miles down the valley.

The main character is the little boy himself, vividly recalling incidents that shaped his young life and live with him to this day. Other characters include his family and school friends as well as individuals from the community itself.

County Times:  Harry Young, pictured with wife Kath and some of his impressive paintings of local scenes in and around Builth Harry Young, pictured with wife Kath and some of his impressive paintings of local scenes in and around Builth

All this is stored into his memory banks, never to be forgotten, each one driven by individual electronic dot pictures drawn by the author himself, that shape the whole book, so that by its conclusion the reader is completely familiar with the setting within which the little boy lives.

The events help the reader be a part of this little boy’s journeys, some of which are sad, others funny, but always conveying a deep felt emotion of what it was like then to have lived in those days in that particular coal mining community.

Harry moved to Builth in 1980 from Wiltshire, where he had been a deputy head at a large junior school. He took on the headteacher role at Irfon Valley Primary School, a new area primary school in Garth, following the closure of small village schools in the area.


He remained in post until retiring in 2001, but after a year of recharging his batteries he was invited to be a post graduate lecturer in primary science to those post grads looking for a career in teaching, finally ringing the bell on his teaching days in 2013.

Since then he has taken up watercolour painting more seriously and likes to feature local scenes in and around Builth. Having now added a first book to his repertoire he hopes it will not be the last.

Harry is sure Valley Boy will resonate with all types of people, whatever their particular circumstance.

The 106-page book is available via Amazon from £5.99 as well as in Kindle edition.