An art gallery owner has been named Wales’ High Street Hero.
Beth Giles, of Giles Gallery in Pontyclun, scooped the top spot in the prestigious new awards scheme, which was established by Communities Minister Lesley Griffiths to celebrate the retailers, services and individuals who help to make an enormous contribution to the survival of Wales’ diverse local high streets.
The High Street Heroes Awards help recognise the vital contribution busy high streets and town centres make to the Welsh economy and community life.
The community gallery exhibits, promotes and sells the work of independent artists from across South Wales. Now celebrating her eighth year in business, Beth, who has a degree in illustration, helps nearly 100 people a week achieve their artistic potential through regular art classes and workshops at the gallery.
Those who nominated 31-year-old artist Beth spoke of the huge contribution she makes to community life, supporting local people to become creative and helping artists develop their careers.
Passionate about giving something back
Beth said: “I feel incredibly honoured to have won the High Street Hero award. I live and breathe my job and am passionate about giving something back to the community, so to be recognised for that means the world to me.
“I hope that the gallery continues to bring people into the village and gives them a reason to stay and enjoy everything Pontyclun has to offer.”
The announcement comes during High Street Week, the highlight of the Welsh Government’s Support Your High Street campaign, which encourages people to make use of the shops and businesses available on their doorstep.
As part of High Street Week events and fun family activities will be taking place across Wales, such as food and craft fairs, children’s activities, vintage days and street parties.
At the beating heart of their communities
Communities Minister Lesley Griffiths, visited the gallery to congratulate Beth on her success.
She said: “When I established these awards, I wanted to find people who are the beating heart of their communities – those who not only provide excellent services and products, but who are an integral part of community life.
“Beth is all this and more. She has converted an old chapel into a lovely gallery which is valued and well-used by the local community.
“I congratulate Beth on this excellent achievement and hope the business continues to go from strength to strength.”