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Wales' first black headteacher to be honoured with statue

HONOURED: Betty Campbell

WALES' FIRST black headteacher has been announced winner of the Hidden Heroines vote and will be immortalised in a public statue.

The statue, the first of a named woman in an outdoor public space in Wales, will be placed in the plaza of Central Square, Cardiff.

Thousands of votes were cast by members of the public in the vote hosted by BBC Cymru Wales, with the winner announced live on Wales Today on Friday (Jan 18). A picture of the winning heroine was projected on to BBC Wales’ new headquarters at Central Square.


The child of Butetown who was told by her teacher a working-class black girl could never aspire to the academic heights proved her doubters wrong in the most inspirational way.

She became the first woman of colour to be a headteacher in Wales and championed her nation’s multicultural heritage throughout her life. It is no wonder that Nelson Mandela sought her out on his only visit to Wales.

Her school became a template throughout the UK for good practice in multicultural education, while Betty also helped create Black History Month. She continued to influence Welsh life through a series of public appointments, serving as an independent councillor for Butetown, a board member for BBC Wales, a member of the Home Office’s race advisory committee and a member of the Commission for Racial Equality.

Betty Campbell was chosen from a shortlist drawn up by a panel of experts from a list of 50 historical Welsh women, put together by the Monumental Welsh Women group and the Wales Women’s Equality Network in May last year as part of the celebrations for the Centenary of some women getting the vote. The women on the list epitomised and illustrated the achievements, talents and successes of Welsh women over the years.

The five shortlisted women - Elizabeth Andrews, Betty Campbell, Sarah Jane Rees (Cranogwen), Elaine Morgan and Margaret Haig Thomas (Lady Rhondda) - were considered by the panel to be great examples of the impact and contribution made by Welsh women across a number of different fields.

Helen Molyneux, a member of the Monumental Welsh Women group leading the campaign to erect the statue, says: "We are delighted that so many people took part in the vote and that it has generated so much interest. The reaction to the project has been fantastic.

"We will now get on with commissioning the artist who will design and create the statute and look forward to seeing it unveiled in 2020. We will also be challenging other towns and cities in Wales to follow Cardiff’s example and honour their hidden heroines.’’

BBC Cymru Wales Director Rhodri Talfan Davies says: “We’re delighted by the terrific response to the Hidden Heroines series. The whole project has been a unique chance to celebrate five extraordinary Welsh lives - and their rich contribution to the world.”

BBC Learning has produced educational resources based on the five heroines that are aimed at key stage two teachers. Each teaching pack contains a film, lesson plan and activities for children aged 7-11.

The resources give an insight into historical events that took place during their lifetimes and compare them with modern Wales. The content assists with elements of the National Literacy and Numeracy Framework as well as the Digital Competence Framework.

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