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Caribbean Firsts

By Alwyn Howson
January 2005, Aberystwyth
A digital story from Capture Wales

Seismic events

Alwyn looks back at some of the highs of his rich and active adolescence in Montserrat and reminds us that seismic events aren't all bad.

"There are a lot of Alwyns in Wales but I bet I'm the first black one.

I came here from Montserat, a small British colony close to Antigua. Looking back, life for me there was pretty cool.

At school, sport was my passion; I held the 800 metres record and had a real talent for high-jump. Living 50 yards from the beach training came easy. I was the first in school to have a pair of real training shoes, which I'd inherited from a local international athlete.

And I was also the first one in 6th form to drive a car. Not only was I tearing up the the track, but the roads too. With the car came beautiful women and alcohol. The girls just loved that car! But that's a long time ago and now I'm living here in Wales.

It was 1997 when I finally ran to Britain. Montserat had become really unsafe - this time the volcanic eruption from the Soufriere Hills volcano had taken many lives.

Seven years on, great progress has been made to rebuild towns and communities and you know, volcanic activity can bring some good - the vegetables grow at an enormous rate producing magnificent dasheens, tannias, potatoes and carrots, and the grass in the garden needs cutting every week now!

In Montserrat I worked as a Chief Statistician for the government. In Britain I pursued postgraduate training in international business law. And now in Aberystwyth I am re-training for the Bar. I love this place and all the people I've met, so I have decided to stay here after I qualify.

After all I'm the first black Alwyn in Wales!"

Alwyn Howson

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am from Montserrat, a small British Colony. I've worked with government throughout my life in Montserrat. I have been a boy scout, a jaycee treasurer of cricket and athletes associations and have taught in the Methodist Church.

What's your story about?
My story explains life in Montserrat after a volcano which was dormant since 1646, suddenly erupted in 1995. I was forced to migrate to Britain in 1997 and changed careers. Now I am training to be called to the Law Bar as a solicitor.

Why did you choose to tell this particular story?
I've found that the volcano really was a real shock to the country and its inhabitants.

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
The workshop was really well organised. The instructor had a systematic way of getting the process together.

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