Who was Betty Campbell and why has a statue of her been unveiled in Cardiff?

A statue of Wales' first ever black headteacher has been unveiled in Cardiff, with the bronze monument set to be a permanent reminder of her work.

During her life, Betty Campbell made strides to improve the lives of many people in Wales, as well as champion diversity and equality.

The statue is the first named and non-fictionalised monument of a woman in an outdoor public space in Wales.

It comes after a campaign by the Monumental Welsh Women's group, with Betty Campbell topping a public vote.

Who was Betty Campbell?

Born in 1934 in Butetown, Betty was raised in poverty in Tiger Bay. She was a studious child who is said to have loved learning and won a scholarship to the Lady Margaret High School.

However, during her time at school Betty was told by her teacher that a working-class black girl could never achieve the academic heights she aspired to.

She proved her teacher wrong, becoming Wales' first ever black headteacher and her work on equality has been recognised around the world.

Betty worked hard to raise awareness of equal rights and diversity.

Whilst she was at Mount Stuart Primary School in Cardiff, she became inspired by the US civil rights movement and taught her pupils about slavery and black history.

As a champion of Wales' multicultural heritage, she sought to provide a sense of belonging and identity for young people and the wider community.

She received a series of public appointments including becoming 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.

Her work gained so much attention that Nelson Mandela wanted to meet her in 1998 on his only visit to Wales.

Nelson Mandela arriving at Cardiff City Hall when he received the freedom of the city in 1998. On his trip he met Betty Campbell.

Betty also helped to create Black History Month and in 2003 was awarded an MBE for her services to education and community life. 

She died in 2017, at the age of 82 where she was born, in Butetown.

Sculptor Eve Shepherd explains the concept behind her Betty Campbell sculpture:

Elaine Clarke, Betty Campbell's daughter has said she is very proud that her mother will be remembered in such an iconic way.

"The monument is a powerful piece that maps out in sculpture not just a likeness of Betty Campbell, but also the community she lived in and championed as well as the people and things that she drew inspiration from throughout her extraordinary life."

Members of Betty's family watched today's unveiling of her statue.

Helen Molyneux, the founder of Monumental Welsh Women who helped start the campaign for the statue has said, "Our Mission is to celebrate female ambition and success by commemorating the achievements of great Welsh Women - and to inspire the next generation of great Welsh women.

"We were thrilled when Betty Campbell was chosen by the Welsh public to be the first Welsh woman to be commemorated with a statue in Wales. 

"Betty's impact during her life was incredible, but, as with so many women throughout history, likely to be forgotten or overlooked by future generations unless something was done to bring her to people's attention. 

"It is a truly iconic, beautiful piece that will attract the world's attention to Cardiff."

Betty Campbell was known for reaching out the members of the community.

The statue has been designed and created by figurative sculptor Eve Shepherd. She has said she is privileged to have created a monument of this kind.

"I hope this sculpture is a fitting tribute to Cardiff and Tiger Bay, the richly diverse community in which Betty grew up in and loved.

"I aimed to continue through this monument, the education in which Betty felt so passionately about, especially black education. Finally, I hoped to pay homage to Betty, the precious and formidable woman, to allow her legacy and memory to live on."