Press Releases 2014-2015

UWTSD-Based Swansea Jazz Volunteer Wins Prime Minister Awards


Jen WilsonA jazz pianist from Swansea who runs an archive project, based at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), to preserve the heritage of jazz music in Wales and across the world has been named a Point of Light by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Jen Wilson jazz pianist and historian, and retired auxiliary nurse and university lecturer, started Jazz Heritage Wales in 1986. Through her passion and enthusiasm the charity has grown into a valuable historic and educational resource chronicling the role women have played in the development of jazz music across decades. The archive has now been incorporated into UWTSD Swansea with Dame Cleo Laine as Patron.

Jen is the latest recipient of a Point of Light award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.

Jen has always been interested in jazz music and performs regularly in the clubs and pubs of Wales as a jazz pianist. She realised that the story of women in jazz was not often told and started to collect memorabilia, records, books, journals and stage gowns to celebrate the incredible contribution that women have made. In 2009 UWTSD agreed to house this priceless archive to enable others to access the thousands of items stored for study and research.

Jen is the 243rd winner of the Points of Light award which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA and was first established by President George H. W. Bush. Over 5,000 US Points of Light have been awarded and both President George H. W. Bush and President Barack Obama have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK which honours shining examples of volunteering across the country.

Regardless of whether it’s a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Point of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "Jen has developed a personal passion into a unique historical record of women's contribution to jazz music.

"It is fantastic that this important archive of memorabilia, records, books, journals and stage gowns can now be accessed for study and research at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. I am delighted to award Jen a Point of Light."

Professor Medwin Hughes, UWTSD Vice-Chancellor, said: “The University of Wales Trinity Saint David is committed to promoting the culture and heritage of Wales. Therefore, we are proud to support the work of Jazz Heritage Wales.

“We are delighted that Jen Wilson’s exceptional work in preserving the heritage of jazz music in Wales, and highlighting its social and cultural impact, has been recognised through this prestigious award.”

Jen said: “I am pleased to receive this Award especially as it is a first in Wales for jazz and its heritage of African American music. It was a delight to sit in libraries and archives as a volunteer and discover our rich history which can now be accessed by future generations.”

Jen also founded the all women Allstars Swing Band, Swansea’s only all-female big band since the Second World War. The band, with a pool of 25 members, performs at events across Wales creating inspirational female role models for young female jazz musicians to admire.

Further Information

Steven Stokes
Principal Corporate Communications and PR Officer
07872 423788