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Swansea man to be honoured with blue plaque in China

Over 5,000 miles away from home, a blue plaque will celebrate a Swansea man's life and achievements in future.

Blue plaque to China

When a visiting delegation from Wuhan in China next visits the city, Swansea Council will present them with a blue plaque in recognition of Griffith John.

Working as a missionary in the 19th century, John spent many years in China.

The plaque -written in Welsh, English and Mandarin - will be installed outside Wuhan Union Hospital, which John founded 150 years ago and now acts as one of China's most important medical research facilities.

John, born on Swansea's Llangyfelach Street in 1831, was one of the first Christian missionaries to set foot in central China. As well as translating the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament into several Chinese dialects, he also established a number of churches, schools and colleges during his time in the country. 

Tracey McNulty, Head of Cultural Services at Swansea Council, said: "Griffith John's missionary work led to him founding and promoting education and healthcare systems and facilities in China, which arguably changed their society in ways that they still celebrate today.  

"Over a century after his death, John continues to be revered in China's Wuhan province, which speaks volumes for his character and the enduring impact of his legacy. 

"Exporting a small marker of remembrance to one of the institutions he founded, in the same way we mark the significance of people and places in Swansea for our own cultural heritage, is a gesture that recognises our links with Wuhan. We're also pleased to be able to mirror this with our own blue plaque in Swansea that was unveiled in John's memory outside Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2013.  These are accolades he thoroughly deserves.  

"As a city, it's important we recognise pioneers and trailblazing people both past and present.  Inspiring stories, innovation, risk and ambition are a key part of our current bid to be named UK City of Culture 2021, where we are looking to draw on our rich culture and heritage to forge a new future for the city. Culture and opportunities for everyone in Swansea are also at the heart of our city regeneration plans."

An exhibition about Griffith John is also now on-going at Swansea Museum.

Books, Chinese silk banners gifted to John by the people of Wuhan, and a collection of artefacts and traditional musical instruments that belonged to him are among the features making up the exhibition, which runs until Sunday June 25.


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