New Play Brings Betty Campbell’s Story Home to Butetown School Children
A new play about Betty Campbell - Wales’ first black headteacher and a champion of multiculturalism – is coming back to Betty's hometown of Butetown, Cardiff, to educate school children on her story of acceptance.
The one-woman show, called Betty Campbell - A Journey through Butetown, will take school children, including pupils from Mount Stuart where Betty was Headteacher, on a historical journey through Butetown, Cardiff, from the building of the docklands through two world wars and on to modern-day Cardiff Bay - all told through Betty’s eyes.
Nicki Prichard, Headteacher at St Mary the Virgin Church in Wales Primary School, said, “As a multicultural, diverse school community it is so important that our pupils are able to recognise role models from our own community. Betty lived all of our school’s core values and provides an inspirational story of what can be achieved, despite the many challenges she faced.
“Our pupils will all be able to learn so much from this play – not only the history and legacy of Betty Campbell but how they can have the confidence to recognise and realise their dreams, and flourish as individuals and members of society.”
Born in 1934 in Butetown, Betty was a bright, studious child, but was told by one of her teachers that as a black working-class woman, she could never achieve the academic heights she aspired to. Betty proved her teacher wrong, becoming Wales’ first ever black head-teacher. Betty’s work on equality has also been recognised around the world.
Fr Dean Atkins, vicar of St Mary’s Church, said, “Betty was not just an important part of the wider community of Tiger Bay but was also part of the congregation here at St Mary’s.
“At St Mary's we enjoy and value being part of a diverse and vibrant community, of which Betty was so proud, and so to be able to host this play which celebrates the story of Tiger Bay as told through the life of Betty Campbell, and pass it onto children, is an amazing opportunity."
Betty Campbell is played by actress Kimberley Abodunrin, originally from Pembrokeshire, and now living in Birmingham after moving to the city to study drama. Kimberley Abodunrin said, “I’m excited and proud to play such an inspirational woman as Betty Campbell, and to be able to share the rich history of Butetown with children across Wales."
Mewn Cymeriad/In Character worked closely with Betty Campbell’s family, who have supported the project from the outset. The play and its production has been developed in partnership with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and with support from BACA - Butetown Arts and Culture Association.
Betty Campbell’s daughter, Elaine Clarke, said, “Mum was a passionate teacher, committed to enriching the lives of her pupils. She was also an innovator, teaching her pupils about slavery and black history, later working for the Commission for Racial Equality and helping create Black History Month. We’ve been delighted to work with In Character on this play, which continues my mum’s legacy. We hope children across Wales will be inspired by Betty’s story to achieve their own goals and dreams.”