Celebrating Extraordinary Contributions: Wonderful Welsh Women in Black History 

Resilience, Dedication, and Community Impact: Stories of Betty Campbell, Vernesta Cyril, Professor Uzo Iwobi, and Roma Taylor


BETTY CAMPBELL – Born in Butetown in 1934, Betty Campell was brought up in Tiger Bay where her mother struggled to make ends meet after her father was killed during the Second World War. She was always a keen reader and won a High School scholarship, but when she said that she wanted to become a teacher, she was told “Oh, my dear, the problems would be insurmountable”. Betty Campbell once said that this response made her cry. She declared that this was “the first time I ever cried in school. But it made me more determined; I was going to be a teacher by hook or by crook” She was one of the first six female students at Cardiff Teacher Training College and qualified as a teacher before working her way up to headteacher. Determined to introduce her students to Black history, she championed multi-cultural education and helped to set up Black History Month.  She is now immortalised in a statue in Cardiff; Wales’ first black headteacher and responsible for putting Black culture and history on Cardiff’s curriculum. 


VERNESTA CYRIL OBE born in Castries, St Lucia and travelled to the UK in 1962. She carried with her one burning ambition – to be a Nurse. Mrs. Cyril trained first as a Nurse at the Royal Gwent and St Woolos Hospitals in Newport and then as a Midwife. She worked at Lydia Beynon Maternity Hospital (now part of the Celtic Manor Resort) for three years, before returning to the Royal Gwent where she remained for the next thirty years. Mrs. Cyril worked tirelessly and was promoted to Senior Midwife Manager. Vernesta’s services to the community were recognized in 1999 when she awarded an OBE for community relations in South East Wales and went to Buckingham Palace to receive her award from the Queen. In 2003 Sir Trevor Macdonald presented Mrs. Cyril with a Pride of Britain Award for her contributions to Midwifery.  


PROFESSOR UZO IWOBI CBE Uzo, originally from Nigeria, is both a qualified solicitor and barrister. After gaining experience as a barrister in Nigeria, she relocated to Wales, where she now serves as the chief executive officer of Race Council Cymru and actively participates on the boards of several voluntary organizations. One of her remarkable achievements is serving as the chairperson of the African Community Centre in Wales, an organization she founded back in 2004. Uzo’s dedication to promoting diversity and equality is evident through her involvement with the Police National Diversity team, where she played a pivotal role in developing national policies on race relations and diversity, working closely with the Home Office.

Her passion for education and law led her to work as a Lecturer in Law at Swansea Law School for nine years. In 2004, Uzo embarked on a career with South Wales Police while simultaneously establishing the very first African Community Centre (ACC) in Wales. Her significant contributions to the ACC were evident as she served as its chairperson for an impressive 15 years. Furthermore, Uzo served as a Commissioner with the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) UK until its merger with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in October 2007. Over the years, Uzo has received several prestigious awards that acknowledge her outstanding contributions to society such as Swansea Bay Woman of the Year Award for Community Achievement and  was awarded an OBE (Officer to the Order of the British Empire). Uzo’s accomplishments are a testament to her unwavering commitment to promoting equality, diversity, and community relations. Her passion and dedication have left a lasting impact, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps and strive for positive change in their communities  


MRS. ROMA TAYLOR Roma Taylor is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Despite this, wherever there is a need, Roma is helping, giving her life to charity, church and community work. At 79 she is still pushing boundaries and making a difference in her community. Aged 15, Roma arrived in Cardiff from Antigua in 1959 and settled with her mother in Tiger Bay, Cardiff Docks. She began to catch the attention of the press at this early age when she dressed up in a Welsh costume to meet Queen Elizabeth II at the Rainbow Club in Tiger Bay. Roma attended Nurses training and later joined the 203W General Hospital (now 203W Field Hospital) Army barracks in Llandaff North, as part of the Queen Alexandra Nursing Corp. She served the Queen and country for 25 years, leaving in 1984, to continue to serve in the community. Roma has given a lifetime of service to Wales through her commitment to the army and community groups.

She has a huge heart and is always willing to share the love with whoever is in need of a smile, a meal or a kind word. Roma has also worked tirelessly to improve the lot of her community, from nurseries to foster caring, to Labour campaigns with Julie Morgan MP, Cardiff North and beyond. She is an inspiration to many, as she always has the best intentions at the forefront of all she does. Roma still gives to the community via the Windrush Cymru Elders, which she set up with backing from Race Council Cymru.

She took on the task of the group to give those who arrived in Wales (and family & friends over 50 years old), during the Windrush era of mass immigration in answer to the call to rebuild the UK following World War 2. The group ensures the ‘Elders’ have safe, weekly meetings, which is a lifeline to many, as they have something to look forward to and not have to be home alone, “twiddling their thumbs.” The group is a success and all are appreciative of the contact it provides. Roma is a force to be reckoned with and many are grateful for her commitment and ‘get it done’ attitude; it has served her and her community well.