BBC journalist honoured

10 July 2013

Betsan Powys being received as Fellow by the University’s Vice-President, Mrs Elizabeth France CBE
Betsan Powys being received as Fellow by the University’s Vice-President, Mrs Elizabeth France CBE

BBC journalist and Radio Cymru Programmes Editor, Betsan Powys, has been presented as Fellow of Aberystwyth today 10 July.

An Aberystwyth German and Drama graduate, Betsan was presented by Alwena Hughes Moakes, the University’s Policy and Executive Officer.

Recently appointed as Editor of Programmes for Radio Cymru, Betsan has a wealth of broadcasting and presenting experience.

She joined the BBC in 1989 as a News Trainee and has since carved out a successful career as a bilingual bi-media presenter and political blogger.

A familiar face on the BBC and S4C, Betsan has presented a number of political news programmes including Panorama, Week In Week Out and Byd ar Bedwar.

Presentation of Betsan Powys by Alwena Hughes Moakes.

Is-Lywydd, Is-Ganghellor, darpar raddedigion, gyfeillion. 

Pleser o’r mwyaf yw cyflwyno Betsan Powys yn gymrawd Prifysgol Aberystwyth.

Vice-President, Vice-Chancellor, prospective graduates and supporters. 

It is an honour and a privilege to present Betsan Powys as a Fellow of Aberystwyth University.

Mae Betsan yn barod yn un o deulu Prifysgol Aberystwyth, yn gyn-fyfrwraig a raddiodd mewn Almaeneg a Drama o’r Brifysgol ym 1987.

An alumna, of the University and a graduate of German and Drama, Betsan is already a member of the Aber family.

Brought up in Bangor and Cardiff, Betsan chose to study at Aber as she was inspired and supported by Len Jones, one of her personal heroes.  This, combined with the University’s excellent reputation for German, and the forward thinking and progressive Drama Department which then, and now, attracted students from far and wide, meant that Aber was an easy choice for Betsan.  Coupled with that, her brother had an excellent time here and enthused about the lectures and learning gained from leading academics including Emily Davies, Elan Closs and Hazel Walford Davies – Betsan was sure she’d be happy here.

And happy she was, she enjoyed her time here at Aber and was actively involved in UMCA, as a member of the committee.  Oes yna unrhyw un ohonnom ni’r Cymry all osgoi bod ar bwyllgor? As part of her role she wrote about the courses that each department offered through the medium of Welsh – an early start to her career as an investigative journalist.  I’m pleased, as an alumna myself and someone who was also involved with UMCA, to tell you, Betsan, that we offer many more courses through the medium of Welsh here today.

During her second year at Aber she was one of the founding members of the International Youth Choir for Peace, and today she continues to play an active part in Côrdydd, the award winning Cardiff based choir.

On completion of her degree at Aber, Betsan went on to complete a MLitt on the life and works of the Austrian author, Jura Soyfer, at Jesus College, Oxford.  Then, in 1989 she joined the BBC as a News Trainee and embarked on her career as a bilingual bi-media journalist and broadcaster.  Since joining the BBC, Betsan has worked as a correspondent from over 20 countries and covered a broad range of issues.

After a period working in London as a correspondent for Panorama, Betsan returned to Wales in 2005, in order to raise her children, Manon and Madog, through the medium of Welsh.  In addition to being a familiar face covering major political events, Betsan was for some time the arts and media correspondent for BBC Wales, the host for S4C’s Mastermind Cymru, and also worked as an investigative journalist for Byd ar Bedwar and Week in Week Out.

From 2006 to the end of June this year, Betsan was the Political Editor for BBC Wales and led the BBC’s political team in Wales and covered some of the most significant political events in Wales’ history – including devolution, and the referendum, for which she hosted the programme from our Department of International Politics here at Aber.

As part of her role, she covered numerous elections, and a mutual friend of ours recalls one occasion where Betsan was rehearsing for the election coverage in 2005 with one of her children firmly hugging her hip – succeeding to juggle her work with motherhood, Betsan is the ultimate Super Mum.

Of course, being a political correspondent in Wales isn’t always as glamorous as it sounds. In 2007, when Labour and Plaid Cymru agreed to set up a coalition and form a Government for Wales, Betsan was there to report from the event.  The deal was struck in Pontrhydfendigaid and Betsan spent much of her time walking through the village in search of high ground, and more importantly, mobile coverage.  When she finally found a spot on top of a grassy mound which had a hint of signal and reported the event down the line to the News Channel in London, the journalist at the other end of the phone had difficulty understanding her... “you’re in Pont.. Pontryd... Pont..what?  Pont something, standing on a grassy hill, with hardly any mobile signal and absolutely no broadband and you’re telling me they’re forming a Government in Wales...  are you absolutely sure about that?”

In addition to working for television and radio, Betsan has been an avid political blogger and attracted a significant body of followers worldwide.  She is a well-respected, well-liked and supremely knowledgeable political journalist – politicians, her BBC colleagues, and the watchers and listeners at home all hold her with high regard.

However, Betsan has now moved on to pastures new. Since the 1st of July, Betsan has embarked on a new role within the BBC as the Programmes Editor of Radio Cymru.  A role I’m sure she’ll have no problem in succeeding in. Pob lwc iti Betsan yn dy swydd newydd.

Is-Lywydd, mae’n bleser gen i gyflwyno Betsan Powys i chi yn Gymrawd.  Vice-President, it is my absolute pleasure to present Betsan Powys to you as a Fellow of Aberystwyth University.

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Arthur Dafis
Communications and Public Affairs
01970 621763 / 07841 979 452