My mum, Ceri James, who has died of heart failure aged 72, was a speech and drama teacher. A fine actor, Ceri taught secondary English and drama, and children with special needs at primary level.
She had a beautiful singing voice and wonderful diction, plus a gift for languages (she was fluent in French and Welsh). Always glamorous, Ceri loved shoes, jewellery and clothes, but also magnolia trees. She was well travelled and enjoyed exploring new foods and cultures.
She had a passion for social justice, and was a member of the leftwing political group Militant. Later, Ceri became a committed Christian. She talked about Jesus a lot, and converted several car salesmen to Christianity.
Born in Swansea, the daughter of John Edwards, a funeral director, and his wife, Ceridwen, Ceri went to school in Swansea, first to the Welsh-language primary Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Lôn Las, then Glanmor girls’ grammar. She began a degree course but this was cut short by a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.
Ceri married Alan James in 1969, and they had two daughters, me and Brioni, and set up home in Writtle, Essex, where they became active in the local Labour party. Ceri gave private speech, drama and elocution lessons, helped found a women’s refuge in Chelmsford, and was a keen member of the Cards amateur dramatics group.
Our family settled in Cardiff in 1978, and after a degree in humanities at Glamorgan Polytechnic (now the University of South Wales), Ceri gained a PGCE qualification, and began teaching English and drama at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen (now Ysgol Garth Olwg) comprehensive in Pontypridd.
In her 50s, heart problems cut short her teaching career, and she put her passion into volunteering with refugees in Cardiff and various projects in her church. Ceri helped hundreds, maybe thousands, of people.
She is survived by Alan, by Brioni and her children, Ariella, Elias, Talitha and Caleb, and by me.
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