UWTSD is proud of its St David Award 2017 winners


UWTSD’s Honorary Fellow Sir Karl Jenkins, Professor Mererid Hopwood, Professor of Practice Jen Wilson and law and public services student Cairn Newton Evans, stood proudly amongst the winners of this year’s St David Awards.

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The St David Awards, which were inaugurated in 2014, celebrate the great deeds and extraordinary achievements of Welsh people from all walks of life – from saving lives to inspiring a nation.

This year saw 24 nominees across eight categories including international, bravery, sport and culture. The winners of this year’s St David Awards were announced at a special ceremony at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on Thursday, March 23.

Professor of Practice Jen Wilson was the winner of the Culture Award. Professor Wilson was born and brought up in Mount Pleasant, Swansea. She is a self-taught jazz pianist and accomplished jazz musician and composer, writer and archivist.

For 50 years, she has played a central role in promoting jazz music in Wales and in documenting its history and social impact – particularly the role of women in jazz. In the early 1980s, Professor Wilson joined the Swansea Women’s History Group as she became increasingly aware that jazz women didn’t feature in cultural histories.

She founded the registered charity Women in Jazz in 1986, continuing to add to her collection of oral histories, jazz sheet music, books, artefacts and records. Dame Cleo Laine became patron in 2003.

Her work has inspired radio programmes like Alan Plater’s three-part drama for BBC Radio 4 (1991) ‘Devil’s Music’, and Radio 4’s ‘The Lost Women of British Jazz’, which was nominated for the Prix Europa in 2015.

Professor Wilson was awarded the WCVA Wales Volunteer of the Year 2014, and the Point of Light Award from the then Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015. She was appointed Honorary Professor of Practice by University of Wales Trinity St David in 2016.

Professor Wilson said she was delighted to have won the award on behalf of Jazz Heritage Wales. “It was an absolutely splendid evening, and I was so shocked to have won, but tremendously proud and so honoured at the same time," she added.


Cairn Newton-Evans won the Citizenship award. Eight years after he was attacked in a shocking homophobic assault, Cairn is now working to help others battling against homophobia and other forms of discrimination.

Cairn, a regular volunteer and a passionate advocate for LGBT rights - was put forward in the citizenship category for having “joined the police to try to stop such attacks happening to others”.

Cairn is a well-regarded Special Constable in Dyfed-Powys Police and has his sights set on joining the regular ranks once he has left university.

Cairn, from Ammanford in Carmarthenshire, said being attacked gave him the push to do something positive. The law and public services student at UWTSD gives up as much as 16 hours a week to his unpaid role in the special constabulary.

"Being announced as the winner of the Citizenship category at the St David Awards by the Welsh Government was a real shock and I have been overwhelmed by the level of support I have received since Thursday’s ceremony,” he said.

Professor Mererid Hopwood and Sir Karl received the First Minister’s Special Award. October 21, 2016, marked the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster, which tragically claimed the lives of 116 children and 28 adults.

The eyes of the world fell on the small former mining village in October to remember one of the bleakest chapters in Welsh history. The community remarkably came together with dignity to remember loved ones and pay their respects, while Wales and the rest of the world looked on.

The anniversary commemorations marked five decades since a waste tip slid down the mountain into the village of Aberfan. The slurry engulfed Pantglas Junior School and neighbouring homes after schoolchildren had returned from an assembly.

Sir Karl Jenkins and Professor Hopwood were commissioned by S4C to compose a new choral piece in memorial of the disaster for a concert called Cantata Memoria, the world premiere for which was held at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

Speaking after the awards, Professor Hopwood said: “All of those involved in the Cantata Memoria were equally determined to do our very best to try to be worthy of the bravery and dignity of our compatriots in Aberfan; and in accepting the award with gratitude from the First Minister, the deepest hope remains that we shall never again see such a tragedy and that the lessons have been learnt.”

Speaking about the First Minister’s Special Award winners, Carwyn Jones said: “What Sir Karl and Professor Hopwood accomplished was incredible. Through their music, they brought together not only the community, but so many people from Wales and the world to share in the incredibly moving commemoration.”

On the group of winners, he said: "What a truly inspirational group of winners – I feel incredibly proud that we in Wales can call such an exceptional group of people our own. You make Wales what it is. Congratulations to everyone who has won an award and to all the finalists who made the award’s shortlist. You are a credit to your families, friends and the nation; I hope you are rightly proud of your achievements.”


Note to Editor

For further information contact:

Rebecca Davies

Swyddog Gweithredol Cysylltiadau â’r Wasg a’r Cyfryngau
Executive Press and Media Relations Officer

Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol a Chysylltiadau Cyhoeddus
Corporate Communications and PR

Tel: 01792 483695
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Email: Rebecca.Davies@uwtsd.ac.uk