RESPECTED Monmouthshire man Harry Isles has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the University of South Wales.

Artist and Chair of the Welsh Refugee Council, Harry Iles, has been given the honour for his work supporting people seeking sanctuary in Wales.

Born in Tiger Bay in 1951, Harry grew up in the seaside town of Morecambe, before teaching with VSO (voluntary service overseas) in Swaziland, where he was inspired by the vision, politics and friendship of people fighting apartheid.

Returning to the UK to study Zoology at Cambridge University, Harry then became a full time, self-taught sculptor, learning how to cast bronze and carve in wood and stone, and exhibiting his work widely across the UK.

For many years he worked for a charity providing hand tools to co-operatives in Africa, and after moving to Abergavenny with his wife Ruth almost 40 years ago, he became Monmouthshire’s Director for Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations, working to build the capacity of voluntary organisations.

Harry was the Head of the Wales office of the Charity Commission for 12 years, providing regulatory advice to some of the largest charities in England and Wales.

For the past six years he has been the Chair the Welsh Refugee Council, which empowers asylum seekers and refugees to build a new life in Wales.

USW has worked closely with the Welsh Refugee Council in recent years.

Dr Mike Chick, the University’s Refugee Champion, led on a collaboration with Cardiff charity Oasis and the WRC to provide English language classes for refugees and sanctuary seekers.

The project brings USW students together with the refugees, who are often a similar age, to deliver language education and break down barriers for people arriving in Wales, to integrate into their new community.

On receiving the Honorary Fellowship, Harry said: “I am deeply committed to upholding human rights, shared humanity, and belief in the potential of those who flee persecution and war.

“I share the vision of Wales as a Nation of Sanctuary and feel privileged to be part of the Welsh Refugee Council, which brings together such a lively and diverse team of staff, volunteers, and trustees.

“I am delighted to have been awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the University of South Wales, as we already have already worked together to bring about positive change to so many lives, and I hope that we can continue this partnership for many years to come.”