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Dawn Bowden MS

Profile image for Dawn Bowden MS

Party: Welsh Labour

Constituency: Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney

Contact information

Office Address: 
110 High Street
Merthyr Tydfil
CF47 8AP

Senedd Address: 
Welsh Parliament
Cardiff Bay
CF99 1SN

Phone:  0300 200 7170


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Term of Office

  • 06/05/2016 -

Membership of Cross Party Groups

Additional Information

Key interests and achievements

Dawn’s main sporting interest is football. She has been a lifelong supporter of her home town team, Bristol City, and still travels to games there when time allows.  However, she is also a season ticket holder of Merthyr Town FC and has a keen interest in most local sports in her constituency.

Travel is another one of Dawn’s leisure interests, particularly if it involves being in Italy. Her love of Italy started with a school trip there was she was just 12 years old. She honeymooned there and has spent many holidays in different parts of the country.

Along with Dawn’s love of Italy comes a love of Italian food.

In her spare time, Dawn also likes to read, listen to music and spend time with her family who are spread across south Wales, north Wales and the west of England.


Personal history

Dawn was born and brought up in Bristol, very much the product of a traditional working class family whose parents were both trade unionists and Labour Party members. She has one brother. 

Dawn attended St Bernadette’s Catholic Secondary School and studied to GCSE level.  After leaving school, she attended Soundwell Technical College where she gained qualifications in secretarial, business studies and law. She later qualified for the Institute of Leadership and Management Diploma through study with the TUC.

In 1989, Dawn moved to south Wales where her two sons were born, educated, brought up and still live and work. She has been married to Martin since 2011.


Professional background

Dawn’s first job after leaving college was as secretary to the Regional Managing Director of Guest Keen and Nettlefold Distributors in Bristol.

She moved from there to work as a medical secretary in the NHS before spending a brief period of time working as a Local Government officer. It was during these years of employment in the public sector that Dawn became actively involved with her trade union NALGO (later to become UNISON).

At the age of just 23, Dawn was appointed as a full-time Branch Organiser for NALGO working with the union’s NHS membership in Bristol. In 1989, she moved to south Wales to become the youngest and first female District Officer in the area.  She rose through the ranks of her union to become the UNISON Cymru/Wales Head of Health, a position she held up to her election as Assembly Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney in May 2016. She counts amongst her proudest achievements leading on the negotiations that delivered the Living Wage into NHS Wales in 2014.

In her union roles, Dawn was an advocate, negotiator, public speaker and campaigner for members working primarily in the public sector services of Local Government, Health, and Higher and Further Education, as well as the privatised utilities of gas, water and electricity and the voluntary sector. She also had management responsibility for a large team of UNISON organisers covering mid and south east Wales.

Dawn worked with a number of organisations representing her union, including the NHS Wales Partnership Forum, Local Government NJC for Wales and the Welsh Government Workforce Partnership Council. She regularly attended and spoke at the Wales TUC and Welsh Labour Party Conferences as a UNISON delegate.


Political history

Dawn joined the Labour Party in l983. She is also a member of the Socialist Health Association and a member of the Public Services union, UNISON.

Her political views were shaped by her upbringing and by parents who were both trade unionists and Labour Party members.

During the miners’ strike of l984-85, Dawn worked with the South West TUC to collect both money and food to support the south Wales miners. 

It was the miners’ strike and other industrial unrest during the 1980sthat drove her into politics. She joined CND in l984 and in April l986 won a by-election in the then Conservative-held ward of Staple Hill to become a Labour Councillor in Kingswood District Council at the age of just 26. Dawn served on the Policy, Housing, Personnel (Shadow Chair), Environmental Health and Planning Committees.

Dawn has served as a local authority nominated school governor for Labour in both secondary and primary schools and was also a Labour Community Councillor in Pontyclun where she was living prior to her election as Assembly Member in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney. She also stood as the Labour candidate for Pontyclun ward of Rhondda Cynon Taff Council in 2004.

Dawn has regularly attended and spoken at both Welsh Labour and UK Labour party conferences.


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