Story by Irshad Akhbar | Photo by Ange Droz
Former headteacher Huw Thomas has recently celebrated his ordination and will now be working as curate of Christ Church Pitsmoor.
Huw was born in Swansea. While his father worked in the financial sector, his mother was busy running to school to hear of Huw’s appalling behaviour. At school Huw was a rebel. He would often get bored with his subjects and turned to being disruptive. Stealing bins, locking teachers in their classrooms and getting into trouble was the norm.
Huw eventually ended up in the sixth form, where he became passionate about education and wanted to become a teacher. Huw realised that children have the ability and teaching needs to be inspirational.
Having graduated from University with a degree in biblical studies, Huw did not want to become a pastor and obtained a teaching post in London. He arrived in Burngreave in 1989 and was excited about coming to Burngreave to join his wife Kate.
The first day at Ellesmere School was not what Huw had expected, Ellesmere School was renowned for its lack of discipline and in his first lesson a child threw down a bookcase and ran out of the room. The day went from bad to worse and in the evening when he met Kate for a celebratory meal he broke down and cried after this horrendous day.
Huw is resilient and persevered with the school. The head teacher Pat Jackson developed a team which took an interest in the children, resulting in a massive improvement in school behaviour. Huw’s approach was innovative and he inspired the children through play and fun to take an interest in their schoolwork.
Religion was not a part of Huw’s early life. When he was twelve, The Gideons came to his school and gave him the New Testament to read. The Gideons told him, “Read this book,” which started his interest in religion.
Over the years in Burngreave, he became involved in the church and came across great vicars including Martyn Snow and Michael Jones, who are leaders in the community. Huw contacted Martyn in 2010 and discussed how he was enjoying the involvement in the church, Martyn suggested that he should get ordained.
Huw has faced many challenges in his life and his advice is that, if you are honest and truthful, people will help you.
One day he told his pupils at school about his fear of flying and that he had never been in an aeroplane. Two of his pupils came up to him after the lesson with a toy aeroplane and told him to hold the aeroplane to help him get over his fear.
Life for Huw is hugely exciting. It has problems and pains, but people are fantastic and life is full of people. He is angered by injustice and inequalities but is encouraged by his faith. He can always find something new from the scriptures that are 2000 years old.
With a fantastic family and supportive friends, he always seeks opinion of others. His dream is to see Labour in power and Swansea City football club in the premier division. His vision locally is a church for everybody in the parish.
His advice to the community is “Love Burngreave, enjoy and make this is a great place to live and work,” and “Never make a bland salad, always put something interesting in the middle.”