Early influences

His early fascination with all things mechanical caused John and Morella to give their older son a set of red-bound Arthur Mee's Children's Encyclopaedias. In them, he found endless pages of subjects that provoked and sometimes satisfied his childhood quest for answers. These days, he credits the books with being at the very origin of his interest in how things worked. He recalls spending countless hours curled up in a comfortable chair with his beloved encyclopaedias, absorbing information.

Towards the end of June 1940, Luftwaffe bombs occasionally rained down on Cardiff, but war truly came to the city on 15 September, when massive German air strikes were carried out on several large cities on a date that came to be designated as Battle of Britain Day. Fortunately, the Luftwaffe bombing was not very accurate, due to a determined and spirited defence by Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter pilots, but Cardiff still suffered extensive damage and a number of civilian casualties that day, together with London and other major cities across Britain.

Harassing night attacks by German bombers continued however, now with an emphasis on major ports and harbour installations, which made Cardiff a prime target. John Llewellyn also worked as a civilian for the Royal Navy, and this caused the family to move around often during the war - and afterwards - to cities that also came under bombardment, such as Bristol, Plymouth and Southampton. The war years were a deeply concerning time for the civilian population, and Tony Llewellyn remembers those times: ''It seemed that the Luftwaffe followed us, since bombing always seemed to speed up after we arrived!''

With peace declared, the family returned to Cardiff and life slowly resumed its course. Tony now attended Cardiff High School, graduating in 1949. He recalls one teacher named Whittle as being an early inspiration to him in that time. He was also active in the Boy Scout movement and would eventually achieve the honour of becoming a King Scout - the British equivalent to an American Eagle Scout.

A future in science now seemed to lay before him, and with this conviction in mind, Llewellyn registered for a Bachelor of Science degree at the University College of Cardiff, which he eventually achieved in 1955. During the course of his degree studies he had become excited about the specific field of chemistry, and once again an educator was to provide the inspiration: ''I had read about the 'magic bullet' idea of specific molecules to cure everything and thought chemistry was interesting, but found (in college) that organic chemistry was messy ... physical chemistry was much more logical. At the university, A.G. Evans' lectures convinced me that physical chemistry was where I belonged, especially his stuff on statistical thermodynamics.'' It would be a determining revelation in his life, as statistical thermodynamics plays a vital linking role between quantum theory and chemical thermodynamics, yet most students find the subject difficult to grasp and therefore unpalatable.

While studying for his degree, he had found a little diverting relaxation and the thrill of competition as a member of the college's swimming team, where he soon found himself drawn to another distraction - a young lady also from Cardiff named Valerie Mya Davies-Jones. ''She was a Physics/Math major, but that wasn't a handicap!'' They were married in 1957, and their first child, a son they named Gareth Roger, was born on 30 October that year.

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