Cardiff’s Betty Campbell statue wins award

Cardiff’s awe-inspiring statue which honours Wales’ first black headteacher, Betty Campbell MBE, has won the public vote at a prestigious awards ceremony.

The celebrated statue secured the win at last night’s, (Thursday November 24),Public Statues and Sculpture Association (PSSA) Marsh Awards 2022 for Excellence in Public Sculpture. 

The Betty Campbell monument was designed and created by renowned figurative sculptor Eve Shepherd and was unveiled in Cardiff city centre in September 2021.The sculpture was commissioned following the Hidden Heroines campaign organised by Monumental Welsh Women, broadcast on BBC Wales. Betty Campbell topped a public vote to decide who would be the first ever statue of a named, non-fictionalised woman in Wales.

Betty Campbell was once told her childhood dream of becoming a headteacher was “insurmountable”. Born and raised in Butetown, Betty Campbell was told by her teacher that a working-class Black girl could never achieve the academic heights she aspired to. She proved her doubters wrong in the most inspirational way, becoming Wales’ first Black headteacher and champion of equality and diversity. Mrs Campbell was honoured with the permanent monument in Cardiff’s Central Square to mark her incredible contribution to education and community.

For the first time in the history of the PSSA awards, the public were given a chance to vote for their favourite work. People voted from a shortlist of nine public works of sculptures from across the UK.

Cllr Huw Thomas, Leader of Cardiff Council said: “It is a true reflection of how well the statue has been received since it was unveiled in Cardiff. Not only is it a fitting tribute to Betty – such an important woman in Welsh and Cardiff history – but it has been a focal point for people visiting the city, a commemoration for our monumental women and now a credit to its creator Eve Shepherd and the public who voted for it.”

Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks & Events, Cllr Jennifer Burke-Davies said: “What a fantastic way for the Betty Campbell Monument to be celebrated by the public who voted for it to win this award. It is such an iconic public sculpture which has already been recognised for the powerful story behind it, and now it has been prized for its visual aesthetics and design. I’m delighted for the artist, and for Betty’s family.”