Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, and
Key interests and
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
In the last Senedd term, Dawn
served on the Health, Social Care and Sport; Culture, Welsh Language and
Communications; External Affairs and Additional Legislation; Climate Change,
Environment and Rural Affairs; Children, Young People and Education and
Equalities, Local Government and Communities Committees. She also Chaired the Committee on Senedd
Reform and represented the Welsh Parliament at the European Congress of Regions
and was a Member of the Valleys Taskforce.
At the beginning of this Senedd
term, Dawn joined the Welsh Government as Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport
and Chief Whip.