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Celebrating our Welsh Girtonians in 2024, the Year of the Dragon

A chinese golden dragon with the text Happy Lunar New Year 2024

As we mark the move into the Year of the Dragon on 10 February 2024, get to know some of our trailblazing Welsh alumni who characterise the innovation, creativity, and energy synonymous with the national symbol of Wales. 

Professor Elwen Evans, KC (1976 Law) 

A barrister and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales and University of Wales Trinity St David. Professor Evans read Law at Girton College, graduating with a double first and was called to Bar in the UK in 1980 by Gray’s Inn. Professor Evans has been described as one of the UK’s leading criminal barristers. She led the prosecution in the April Jones murder case and the defence team in the Gleision mine disaster case. She became Head of the College of Law and Criminology at Swansea University in 2015.

Rachel Lomax (1963 History) 

An economist, banker and former government official who was a Deputy Governor of the Bank of England from 2003 to 2008 and Permanent Secretary to the Welsh Office in the UK Civil Service. She served in the latter role from 1996 to 1999, overseeing the establishment of the National Assembly for Wales. She held a number of other senior civil service roles, including in the Cabinet Office, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Transport.    

Julia Gillard AC (2023 Honorary Fellow)

Was the first woman to serve as Prime Minister of Australia from 2010 to 2013. Born in Barry, Wales in 1961, Gillard moved with her family to South Adelaide Australia in 1966. She was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1998 as a member of the Labor Party. In 2006 she became the running mate of Kevin Rudd, becoming Deputy Prime Minister after Labor’s victory in the 2007 general election. She became an Honorary Fellow of Girton College in 2023. 

Laura Bleehen (2016 Medical Sciences)

A junior doctor who began playing rugby in her fourth year of studies at Cambridge. Within a year she played in the Cambridge University Rugby Football Club’s (CURFC) annual varsity match against Oxford at Twickenham and was called up to play for the Welsh national team against Scotland in the Six Nations. 

Carol Bell (1977 Natural Sciences) 

An experienced industrialist and financier who started her career in the oil and gas industry before moving into banking. She held senior posts at UBS, Credit Suisse, First Boston, JP Morgan, and Chase Manhattan Bank. Carol is a board member of the Development Bank of Wales, which invests in SMEs in Wales, a council member of Research England and the Vice President of National Museum Wales. In 2019, Carol became the first woman to join the board of the Football Association of Wales.

Gwyneth Lewis (1978 English; 2011 Mary Cummins Harvey Visiting Fellow Commoner) 

A writer and poet who became the first National Poet of Wales. After studying creative writing in the US followed by a DPhil in English Literature at Balliol College, Oxford, Gwyneth worked as a journalist in New York. She publishes poetry in both Welsh and English, as well as non-fiction writing (including Sunbathing in the Rain: A Cheerful Book on Depression). Her words appear on the front of the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff in six-foot-high stained-glass windows. 

Margaret Llewellyn (1973 History) 

Margaret’s 30-year career has seen her own and operate a container shipping line, port terminals and road haulage fleet. Margaret is currently Chair of the Network Rail Supervisory Board and was previously Chair of the Tourism Advisory Board for Wales and Vice Chair of the Welsh Development Agency.

For 9 years she was Deputy Chairman of the Port of Dover and Chairman of the Dover Harbour Board Pension Fund. She is a director of SeaPort Development and the Ports of Jersey and has held a number of senior positions in shipping, transport and logistics.Margaret is a long-standing adviser to the Welsh government and in 2004, she received an OBE for services to economic development in Wales.