Swansea University has awarded an honorary degree to Welsh actress and broadcaster, Gwenyth Petty.
The award was presented to Ms Petty on 19th December at the University’s degree ceremony for the College of Arts and Humanities.
Gwenyth has roots in Crug y Bar in rural Carmarthenshire and the more industrial urban town of Maesteg in Glamorganshire.
She was a shy child, but found delight in listening to the wireless that was constantly on in the house and provided an endless source of entertainment including Children’s Hour and Saturday Night Theatre.
During the war, big stars of the day were invited to entertain the colliers at Maesteg Town Hall and the Little Theatre where Gwenyth’s mother helped behind the scenes. All stayed overnight at the Petty’s house, and their presence left a lasting impression on the young Gwenyth.
Gwenyth credits numerous teachers who saw in her far more than she saw in herself. She chose wireless because she could tell stories and remain anonymous at the same time but she found the courage to attend auditions and one of her early roles was in Heidi.
She attended the Rose Bruford School and then RADA, the Royal College of Dramatic Art. But her career really started in Swansea at the BBC Studios, in the Uplands, and on Alexandra Road, where she would perform live to the nation on the radio. She was one day asked to read for a poet in the room next door: Dylan Thomas.
She is the only surviving member of the main cast of Under Milk Wood, which broadcast live on the BBC’s Third Programme, alongside Richard Burton, and she then went on to be in the cast of Under Milk Wood at the Globe Theatre in London. She was a member of the BBC Repertory Company where she was immersed in all the classics from Ibsen to Shakespeare and the Welsh classics such as Saunders Lewis.
She has many film and TV credits. One in particular is the film David made in 1951 by Paul Dickson and based in the mining town of Ammanford. Even today, David is considered the best film ever made in Wales. Other credits include Theory of Flight with Kenneth Branagh, The Dark with Sean Bean and Very Annie Mary with Kenneth Griffith. Her television credits include Teulu on S4C and Mortimer’s Law for BBC One.
She is most proud of her White Robe at the National Eisteddfod’s Gorsedd of Bards.
On receiving her honorary degree from Swansea University, Gwenyth Petty said:
“I was in total shock when I received news of this award; still can’t quite get over it but am filled with gratitude and immense pride…Diolch o galon Prifysgol Abertawe!”