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Bevan is top of the Welsh heroes

First there was the sex bomb. Then there was the illicit campaigner. But now, finally, the do-gooder looks likely to have come out on top.

Since the beginning of the year, the Welsh public has been voting in a poll to determine the favourite national hero. Ballot papers were sent to every Welsh school and college, and biographies of nominees were published on the internet. And, now, after two months and more than 40,000 votes, the polls have closed. The results will be announced at a ceremony in Cardiff on St David's day, March 1. But the last unofficial count, four days before polls closed, showed a clear winner: Aneurin Bevan. The former Labour home secretary, credited as the founder of the National Health Service, received 1,863 votes.

When the 100 heroes were nominated, Mr Bevan came in second to smoothly masculine singer Tom Jones. But, once votes were cast, the medallion-clad crooner, renowned for his hits "It's Not Unusual" and, more recently, "Sex Bomb", was relegated to third place, with only 1,674 votes.

And in second place was Owain Glyndwr, a 15th-century prince who led a rebellion against the English, with 1,727 votes. The failure of the prince to come out on top will be a personal blow for Robin Gwyn, communications director at the National Museum in Cardiff. Shortly before the polls closed, Mr Gwyn caused a controversy with last-minute attempts at vote-rigging. With three days to go, he sent out a Welsh-language e-mail to almost 50 contacts, urging them to ensure that the Welsh nationalist came out on top.

Miles Fletcher, spokesman for Culturenet Cymru, which is running the poll, believes that such political machinations indicate a wider voting trend.

He said: "Wales has two historical traditions. There is the Welsh-speaking tradition, and there is the tradition of the very industrialised society that produced Aneurin Bevan.

"And then there is Tom Jones, who appeals to those who don't care about politics, but just like a good voice. Voting reflects the social make-up of Wales."

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