Sculptor responsible for statues of Welsh sporting legends dies suddenly

A renowned sculptor who immortalized one of the finest Welsh artists of the 20th century in bronze has died aged 74. Roger Andrews, who worked from his home studio in Llantwit Major, was the artist behind the statue of Sir Tasker Watkins which stands in front of the Principality Stadium in Cardiff today.

The statue of the former Welsh Rugby Union President, unveiled in 2009, was one of Roger’s favorite works. In his familiar slanting pose with his hands behind his back, Roger said of the 9-foot-tall, one-ton bronze statue: “If I never finish another work, I’m sure this is the only sculpture I’m passionate about creating.” wanted.”

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Roger died suddenly on July 9, leaving behind his wife Andrea of ​​51 years, son Richard, daughter-in-law Julie, daughters Katryn and Olivia, and grandchildren Eliza, Eshan, Saffron and Josh. You can get more Porthcawl news and other story updates straight to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Sharing the news, his brother John Andrews said, “As a family, we want to do more than just announce his death.” His legacy will live on in his work, he added.

Sir Tasker Watkins outside the Principality Stadium, Cardiff(Image: South Wales Echo)

Born in Porthcawl on 31 January 1949, Roger was the first of three sons and lived his early years with his parents and maternal grandparents in Kenfig Hill. His father, who was a senior mechanical engineer at British Steel, was transferred to Newport and the family moved to Cardiff. It seemed that Roger was never destined to hold a regular office job, which was in part the reason for his creative success. His family described him as a “high intellect but unremarkable scholar”.

Roger decided to do an electrical apprenticeship at Llanwern Steel Works. And like his father, Roger pursued an engineering career, combining it with his affable and contagious personality to become a well-respected and sought-after sales engineer with a market-leading German crane manufacturer.

In 1979, at the age of 30, after a short but illustrious period working for others, Roger started his own company, ASA Crane & Hoist Limited. Supported by his father, the company sold industrial cranes across the UK from its Cardiff base. After initial success, the company suffered two recessions in 1980 and 1983, which dealt a devastating blow to the company and eventually led to bankruptcy. This led to 10 years of frustration and financial hardship for him.

This happened until he began to reconnect with his artistic abilities. In 1992 he was invited by a local community to design Llantwit Major’s medieval town hall and he has never looked back.

Roger designed the aircraft to commemorate the Shetland Islands war effort in World War II(Image: John Andrews)

The 15 x 10 cm model was so popular that he redesigned it and sold more than 100 copies. He then began work on St Illtyd’s Church, also in Llantwit Major, which became another big seller. Roger named his product Local Landmarks and went on to model a number of Wales’ most iconic structures including Castell Coch, the Old Arcade in Cardiff, the former national stadium and home of Welsh Rugby, the former home of Cardiff City and Ninian Park and a number of exhibits from St. Fagan’s Folk Museum.

Local Landmarks has been marketed across Wales and sold by the dozen in gift shops, museums and department stores. Finally, he also expanded his repertoire through his sister company Roger Andrews Studios, where he created ornamental, bronze-finish versions of the classics, personal commissions such as favorite pets, WWII airplanes, adored academics and television characters, and certain family members.

After his father’s death in 1993, Roger created a perfect bust to commemorate his father, whom he nursed and cared for throughout his illness. The limited edition casts remain the focal point of the family home.

In later life, Roger received even more prestigious commissions and invitations to sculpt life-size figures. In 2007 he created the statues of two of the youngest VC holders from WWI: Thomas Young and Richard Annad. They are still on parade in their native South Tyneside to this day. This was followed by his iconic work depicting Sir Tasker Watkins, as well as his statue of Fred Keenor – a former Cardiff City FC captain and FA Cup winner and an icon to so many Cardiffians.

Roger’s brother added, “With that in mind, Roger was a central part of a loving and close-knit family, which included his wife, children and grandchildren, younger brothers, parents-in-law and numerous nieces and nephews.”

“In 1969 he married Andrea Symons, the eldest child of Ken and Betty, whom Roger immediately accepted as part of their own family. Likewise, his circle of friends stretched from his past to the present and into the Masonic fraternity where he achieved high status and much respect.

“Roger lives on through his legacy as an artist and as a beloved family member and friend.”

Roger died suddenly on July 9th(Image: John Andrews)

John was involved in his brother’s work from time to time and was always amazed at Roger’s intuition for what he was doing. He said, “It wasn’t about the money for him,” he explained. “He could separate it and still be totally focused on the art itself.”

“He was struggling financially and I remember that art was both therapy and income for him in the 80s. I was so proud of what he achieved with his artwork because it was never about wanting recognition.”

“Looking back now, in any other era, if he had started earlier, he would have been celebrated as a leading sculptor not just in Cardiff and Wales but throughout the UK. It’s funny because I remember when he was younger he announced he wanted to go to art school but was dissuaded – but as he got older he turned back to art anyway.

He continued, “As a person, he had an infectious sense of humor. It wasn’t the same at a family party when he wasn’t there. There were nine years between us and as my big brother he was in many ways.” Like a second father who gave me so much presence in my childhood and became my rock.

“My favorite memory of him will always be when we were teenagers – we were home alone and he made a little mess outside on one of his mechanical projects that he didn’t clean up. He ended up having a bit of a mess of an argument with our parents, like you do, about the mess.

“He turned and took a broom outside and he was so angry that he broke the broom while cleaning up. It probably doesn’t even sound that funny to everyone else, but it will always make me laugh—” It’s those little things that you’ll always hold onto.

A funeral service will be held at 2pm on Friday 28 July at St Illtud’s Church, Church Lane, Llantwit Major.

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