My family moved to Sandwell when I was six. My early memories are of a West Midlands TV production that went on to become a national sensation – at least in my mind. Chris Tarrant was the host of Tiswas. The anarchic Saturday morning kids programme was a West Midlands creation that went on to national acclaim.
Mum and Dad were both teachers. Mum taught French at a secondary comprehensive and my dad taught at a special school. Our family come from a Welsh non-conformist background. My parents taught me the value of education - and sought to ensure that I had a great one. They taught me that as neighbours, we have obligations to one another. They taught me that looking after the old lady down the street isn’t charity – it’s what it means to be a good person.
My mum used to talk a lot about her grandfather. He was a farm worker who left school at 11. He was incredibly well educated – much of which he taught himself before he went blind. Education was very important in our house when I was growing up. It was so important – and remains so – because it gave me choices in life.
I’m very proud to be from the West Midlands. Our region holds an incredibly special place in world history – but all too often we don’t celebrate where we’re from. Think about what’s come from the West Midlands.
Shakespeare – arguably the most creative figure in history. His body of work is unparalleled. The steam engine. The Lunar men. Manufacturers of world-class cars. The spitfire – made in Castle Bromwich.
The collective geniuses of the West Midlands are game-changers - global and historic leaders. We should celebrate this more. If we were a nation, we’d be the 58th biggest country in the world.
We’ve got so much to be proud of in the West Midlands.