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Hefin was born in 1929 in Bethesda, North Wales, a small slate quarrying town. His early pathological training in Cardiff led to a lifelong interest in lung pathology, and he had a particular interest in asbestos-related mesothelioma. After his consultant appointment, he carried out a postmortem study of asbestos-related lung disease among Clyde shipyard workers, for which he was awarded an MD. His expertise in this field was widely recognised, and ultimately he became a member of the UK Mesothelioma Panel. In an era when the pathology departments in the more peripheral hospitals were perceived to lie in the shadow of the university departments, Hefin was profoundly sceptical of academia. He was, however, a fine teacher, and his methodical approach and diagnostic acumen inspired a generation of pathologists in the west of Scotland who sat with him at the microscope as he puffed at his pipe. He ran a very happy department and was held in high regard and great affection by his colleagues and trainees. He had been an insulin dependent diabetic for over 50 years, having been diagnosed while a resident. In recognition of this he had recently been awarded the Alan Nabarro medal by Diabetes UK.
Hefin leaves a wife, Eirlys; twin sons, one of whom is a consultant radiologist; and a daughter.